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Wednesday, December 3, 2003

The weather took a slight turn for the better today. We even saw the sun this afternoon, and some of the smaller puddles in the driveway have disappeared. It's actually easier to walk out to the mailbox when you can see the wet spots. Once things start to dry out, you can step into the mud and not even know it until you try to pull out.

It was quieter today. Since the rain started a few days ago, I've been treated to the song of the frog. This isn't any deep-throated croaking bullfrog. It's more a "cra-ack," up in a higher register and a little more desperate. A teenage frog, most likely — earnest, endearing and insistent.

I could never tell what would set him off, and I never actually saw him. He seemed to be just outside my front door, but the way that voice carries it's hard to tell. I don't know if he's gone now or just not as interested in exercising his freedom of speech now that the rain has stopped. I guess I'll find out when it starts coming down again.

The rain didn't dampen the spirits of the quail, who were here in even greater numbers over the last week than before I went on vacation. I'm still not sure what their schedule is, but for a few days they were spending most of the afternoon in my yard.

Maybe they were lulled into a sense of security by my absence for ten days and then my hibernation while I was recuperating. In any event, whenever I'd walk out the front door they would scatter in a great flurry of beating wings and excited warbles. They moved as one, staying together and in sight of one another the way many large families seem to do. Stragglers were not endured lightly.

They didn't seem to be around today, though. As I said, it's been quieter since the rain stopped. Not that I'm complaining, because I think I needed a dry day with blue sky, just to keep from giving in to the grayness. Days like this are never more welcome than they are this time of year.

29 November 2003

The last leaves on the pussywillow that grows by the fence.

As I was driving home from coffee in Sebastopol this morning, I saw a hot air balloon hanging in the sky off to the northeast. As I was watching it (and the rear bumper of the car in front of me) a brightly colored small airplane scooted in front of the balloon. It was a brilliant orange and looked almost like a toy. Just after it passed the balloon, a great cloud of crows rose into the sky between the two. The impromptu air show had no meaning, as far as I could tell, and no purpose other than to make me smile. For which I'm grateful.

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