Night falls in Raccoon Township

By P.C. Zick@PCZick

My  husband bends over the soil, gently poking his onion seedlings into the ground. His concentration on the task rivals the greatest of Zen masters. He’s in a race to beat the rain hanging heavy in the dusk of day. Birds swoop low to the recently filled feeders. I imagine they are stocking up before the storm.

Soon, when the tenderest of plants go in the ground, the bird feeders will disappear to the garage until October. The birds will still come to the trees in our yard, and later in the summer,  they will feast on the seeds of our 12-foot tall sunflower plants.

We have a new addition to our garden here in the hilltops of western Pennsylvania high above the Ohio River. A mallard duck couple escaped from the menagerie at the farm across the street and waddled over to our place. The two lovebirds sit in the grass just beyond the patio or stroll the grounds poking for bugs and dropped bird seeds. They walk together, with the larger and more colorful male always standing guard over the brown, black and white speckled female. The shiny dark green head of the male dips quickly for a seed before coming back to stand erect over his mate’s lowered pecking head.

Peace settles over the garden as a storm moves its way from the west.

“I planted them all,” my husband says as he unbends from the ground, his hands black from the soil he nurtured the day before with sand and mushroom manure.

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Planting onions

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Mallards on parade

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Sunflowers as tall as the trees

Later, the rain gently fell on the onions, while the storm never quite materialized. The ducks retreat to a spot beneath the deck in our yard, and I go inside to prepare dinner for my gardener.

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