Ah, well, this is an unexpected development born of our experiment and a human sort of chronicle for The Garden, You, and I.
One of the most puzzling things in this living out-of-doors on our own place is the reversal of our ordinary viewpoints. Never before did I realize how we look at the outdoor world from inside the house, where inanimate things force themselves into comparison. Now we are seeing from outside and looking in at ourselves, so to speak, very much like the robin, who has his third nest, lop-sided disaster having overtaken the other two, in the old white lilac tree over my window.
Some of our doings, judged from the vantage point of the knoll, are very inconsistent. The spot occupied by the drying yard is the most suitable place for the new strawberry bed, and is in a direct line between the fence gap, where my fragrant things are to be, and the Rose Garden. Several of the walks that have been laid out according to the plan, when seen from this height, curve around nothing and reach nowhere. We shall presently satisfy their empty embraces with shrubs and locate various other conspicuous objects at the terminals.
Also, the house is kept too much shut up; it looks inhospitable, seen through the trees, with branches always tossing wide to the breeze and sun. Even if a room is unoccupied by people, it is no reason why the sun should be barred out, and at best we ourselves surely spend too much time in our houses in the season when every tree is a roof. We have decided not to move indoors again this summer, but to lodge here in the time between vacations and to annex the Infant.
Oh, Mrs. Evan, dear! there is one thing in which The Man from Everywhere reckoned without his host! Stopping the clocks when we went in camp did not dislodge Time from the premises; rather did it open the door to his entrance hours earlier than usual, when one of the chiefest luxuries we promised ourselves was late sleeping.
Stretched on our wire-springed, downy cots (there is positively no virtue in sleeping on hard beds, and Bart considers it an absolute vice), there is a delicious period before sleep comes. Bats flit about the rafters, and an occasional swallow twitters and shifts among the beams as the particular nest it guarded grew high and difficult to mount from the growth of the lusty brood within. The scuffle of little feet over the rough floor brings indolent, half-indifferent guessing as to which of the lesser four-foots they belonged. The whippoorwills down in the river woods call until they drop off, one by one, and the timid ditty of a singing mouse that lives under the floor by my cot is the last message the sandman sends to close our eyes before sleep. And such sleep! That first steel-blue starlit night in the open we said that we meant to sleep and sleep it out, even if we lost a whole day by it. It seemed but a moment after sleep had claimed us, when, struggling through the heavy darkness, came far-away light strands groping for our eyes, and soft, half-uttered music questioning the ear. Returning I opened my eyes, and there was the sun struggling slowly through the screen of white birches in Opie's wood lot, and scattering the night mists that bound down the Opal Farm with heavy strands; the air was tense with flitting wings, bin! music rose, fell, and drifted with the mist, and it was only half-past four! You cannot kill time, you see, by stopping clocks - with nature day Is, beyond all dispute. In two days, by obeying instead of opposing natural sun time, we had swung half round the clock, only now and then imitating the habits of our four-footed brothers that steal abroad in the security of twilight.
Copyright, 1901, K. Hendrickson.
The Screen of White Birches.
June 24. Amos Opie, the carpenter, owner of Opal Farm, is now keeping widower's hall in the summer kitchen thereof. A thin thread of smoke comes idly from the chimney of the lean-to in the early morning, and at evening the old man sits in the well-house porch reading his paper so long as the light lasts, a hound of the ancient blue-spotted variety, with heavy black and tan markings, keeping him company.
These two figures give the finishing touch to the picture that lies beyond us as we look from the sheltered corner of the camp, and strangely enough, though old Opie is not of the direct line and has never lived in this part of New England before, he goes about with a sort of half-reminiscent air, as if picking up a clew long lost, while Dave, the hound, at once assumed proprietary rights and shows an uncanny wisdom about the well-nigh fenceless boundaries. After his master has gone to bed, Dave will often come over to visit us, after the calm fashion of a neighbour who esteems it a duty. At least that was his attitude at first; but after a while, when I had told him what a fine, melancholy face he had, that it was a mistake not to have christened him Hamlet, and that altogether he was a good fellow, following up the conversation with a comforting plate of meat scraps (Opie being evidendy a vegetarian), Dave began to develop a more youthful disposition. A week ago Bart's long-promised, red setter pup arrived, a spirit of mischief on four clumsy legs. Hardly had I taken him from his box (I wished to be the one to "first foot" him from captivity into the family, for that is a courtesy a dog never forgets) when we saw that Dave was sitting just outside the doorless threshold watching solemnly.
The puppy, with a gleeful bark, licked the veteran on the nose, whereat the expression of his face changed from one of uncertainty to a smile of indulgent if mature pleasure, and now he takes his young friend on a daily ramble down the pasture through the bit of marshy ground to the river, always bringing him back within a reasonable length of time, with an air of pride. Evidently the hound was lonely.