From the mountain

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Mark Tidwell

 The last of the purple martins departed Highcliff on Aug. 9. The colony site by the garden is now utterly silent. I miss the cheerful martins and all the life that they bring to the farm. 

But, they’ve got their schedule, dictated by the instinct instilled in them by Mother Nature to follow, while we humans have our timetable to follow.

 I won’t be crossing the Gulf of Mexico on a wing and a prayer like the martins. I won’t be flying over the rainforests of Brazil, down below the equator, like the martins.

I won’t be dodging the coming winter like the martins. I will be looking forward to seeing the martins return to Highcliff next March, just as they too will once again be looking forward to getting back “home.”

 The gardens have pretty much played out as well. I bush hogged them down for the most part. That made room to plant greens for the fall. I do not like to eat greens, though several in the family do. I really enjoy growing a variety of greens; Florida broadleaf, curly mustard, radishes, turnips, spinach and the like.
 I do leave part of the garden just as it has developed over the summer. I love to see the corn stalks turn golden brown and listen to their dried leaves rattle in the wind. And though the garden is full of weeds and grass, the morning glories drape over all of the tired vegetables and adorn them with colors and beauty man cannot duplicate.  Morning glories sure do come in a wide range of colors; deep purple, pink, light blue, dark blue and stunning white.
 Squirrel season opened on Aug. 27. I ventured out, along with a couple of companions.  Fog was absent that morning. There was a stiff breeze as well. This made the squirrels extra suspicious and wary of any human activity. We finally dropped off the high ridges down into a deep, secluded hollow to get out of the wind.
 Once we found some quieted woods, we began to be able to put the sneak on some squirrels. We located a grove of black gum trees that were working alive, in their top branches, with bushytailed squirrels.

It sure was fun watching Randolph, my 11-year-old neighbor, try to get him a squirrel. After some shooting, the squirrels decided they best move along. The day heated up really fast, so the hunters also figured it best that they vacate the hot woods for cooler, less buggy climes. It’ll be a day we chat and laugh about for years to com, one of the finer days of life “from the mountain.”