A sunny January morning calls me outside. I take a ski pole and navigate our icy driveway. There, in my perennial island, a poor Hellebore whimpers for help.

I inspect the damage.

“Deer,” she says.

“I’ll be back,” I promise.

The sun’s melted the ice from our graded roads, so I round my first corner onto Townsend without a slip. The grumpy old man who lives in the bark of Mother Oak’s ancient edifice, scowls as I pass by. Truly, he should be glad that magnificent tree gives him refuge.

Birdsong urges me onward. I wish again for better birding ID skills.

Now, by no means does my handicap affect the bliss of rambling country roads. To see a wing in the air on a mild, January day catches my breath.

Then a jay spats and swaggers.

Jays, crows, redwing blackbirds and mourning doves include the extent of my birdcall repertoire. They’ve befriended my gardens and fen by the compost bin, offering opportunity to observe and learn their distinct songs and physical features.

However, the flighty and fast sparrow, finch, swallow, warbler and wren clans (among others) elude me. They prefer distant and spacious places to feed, nest, and sing that don’t allow intimate acquaintance.

Birdcalls attend me downhill where wings scout my second crossroad where the historic Brewer homestead stands.

Horses graze in an apple orchard on land purchased by farmers who left New York in the nineteenth century. They sought unbroken soil bordered by woodlands and waterways teeming with wildlife.

As the deer pants for Stony Creek, coursing her crooked route around and under former cow paths, so do the birds and I. Sometimes when approaching the Brewer bridge, I forget to anticipate flushing a nervous duck from the reeds.

Since I’m no better at duck ID, I cannot say if it’s a mallard, black duck, or another common visitor I often startle from its foraging to sudden flight and quacking.

This morning, however, the current rolls along in peace. Perhaps ducks aren’t out and about in January.

I admire the two beautifully restored Brewer centennial barns. Happy to have all their windows intact, boards upright, and gates attached, the barns smile, speak of longevity within their community settled by fellow New York agrarians.

The Brewer, Townsend and Yule barns of Addison Township still stand in service–productive, resilient illustrations of mankind’s affection for and devotion to husbandry.

I saunter along Stony Creek where rapids fall over man-made rock dams, perhaps once native footpaths crossing the stream.

Fallen snow-capped logs span the water, many rotted with fertile bellies sprouting seeds and growing all manner of living things. Red dogwood branches reach for the sky this bright morning.

Dear Reader, the winged and rooted things call my name. “Trust in the Lord,” they say. “For you shall be like a tree planted by the waters.”

This I believe, for the Lord is my faithful husbandman. He taught me to care for distraught Hellebores. And befriend grumpy old men in trees.

Contact Iris at irisleeu@sbcglobal.net.