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Theme time green 

It's nighttime in the big country. A dog races off into the woods. Chasing a deer, a far away siren, a moon shadow? He doesn't even know why. A green wave of running cedar tiptoes over an old firebreak, extending each day cross-country, nodding to early wildflowers, toward a rendezvous in fernland. The orange clay soil welcomes all.

A girl falls asleep in front of a warm wood stove reading Kurt Vonnegut. Snuggled under a quilt, she doesn't know how glorious the next day will be, and always be, with windows pushed open, March winds blowing and laundry waving on the line.

The chicken coop is alive with skitterings and anticipation. Green comes every day, just beyond the mesh wire, fresh shoots at every fissure of the moist, dark earth. Weeds, clover, grass, daffodils or moss cover. No matter; it's green, it's alive.

The dogs snoop and sniff the edges of the coop. Field mice tunnel multilane burrows to food and soft nesting beds on little-used supply shelves. They love that soft cedar bark! Birds find holes in the chicken wire, filling up on scratch cracked corn before desserts of early spinach buds. In the coop, buffed up with winter down, the chickens fluff up the wheat straw, note the extra daylight and start laying.

Puddles, rivulets and floating armadas of pine and tulip poplar show up overnight in stream creases. Micro-dams of twigs, flotsam and clogs of leaves dot the creeks. The beavers genuflect and get to work. The next day there are pointed stumps, fresh wood chips and fallen saplings. Gingerly honoring their handiwork, I straddle a crossing. Among the pond fronds, spring peepers yodel in unison at sunrise.

In the house, the Weather Channel desktop blinks all the time: blue, red, blue, "Go outside, there's plenty to do!"

Looking for paths less traveled is joyous. Rabbits have their bunny tunnels into bushes; the deer have their gentle curving, chest-high thoroughfares through old corn mazes in abandoned fields. There's a soft pile of husks just inside the tree line. But what's just beyond that rock pile? Honeysuckle and poison ivy plot their sinister returns.

Thickly thorned, deep purple blackberry briers close off passage in once-open spaces in a natural labyrinth, while bright green wild rose brambles, with wide spaced sturdy thorns, encircle wind-sheared loblollies down by an ox-bow. Meanwhile, their happy-go-lucky cousins, the Rabbit Eye blueberries, wait patiently for their pine straw mulch and reach for the sky, giddy with dark red bud clusters, poster children for edible landscaping. Thick, ancient, ever so slow-growing gray wild grape vines yawn and twist, seeking purchase on unsuspecting hickories.

It's an Audubon wonderland, and everyone knows it. Frosty tussocks glisten, then soften at sunrise. Digging the solar, the cats and dogs migrate to the warm southern exposures next to low walls, keeping a ready eye out for adventure.

Reintroducing herself, nature sweeps in from the east and northwest, with all her answers blowing in the wind.

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