More than the spattering sound against the porch and railings, the rain rushes and blows through the trees and beats against the windows and sides of the house. Thunder rumbles low and grumbling in the background, through the mountains that we can no longer see.
We arrived yesterday to the woods I've come to for thirty years. In recent years, they seem more towering and brighter than ever as their huge bodies sway in the wind, so unlike the low flat land where I live.
This morning when my mom got up -- she was the first of us -- she walked into the living room to find Silas fully dressed with binoculars around his neck gazing out the door (in his west coast brain it was 4AM). Each time I've spotted his little white-blonde head today, he's been moving and armed with some kind of equipment -- binoculars, walking sticks, telescope, shovel, machete, bear whistle. I think heaven for him, like Nana, will be this exact setting.
The rain has quieted enough now that it's changed to pattering and trickling drops, still with that low thunder behind it. The trees stand perfectly still. My hands are scratched from the rope swing and my hair soft from pond water -- a water so cold it sucked the breath out of me each time I dove in. Jesh, my one year old nephew, is bouncing on the rug next to Silas behind me-- cousins.
On the trail today Eden collected handfuls of treasures that she jammed into my jean short pockets: acorns and two "rainbow leaves"-- the august woods already lean toward fall -- crumpled green leaves Eden was "making play dough" from, rocks flecked with mica.
This summer the hills have been wild with black bears -- a newer development since I was a girl -- bears so bold they've climbed onto neighbors' porches and ambled under their apple trees. Last night at dusk, a neighbor spotted a mama and four cubs right down near the gate digging out a bee hive. We clustered on the porch but couldn't seen them, despite Eli's work with the binoculars, Silas's with the telescope, and Eden's the with magnifying glass. Instead we saw fire flies flecking the dark woods.
In a few minutes we'll walk through the thundery air and drive down to Asheville for bar-b-que, faces to the glass watching for bears as we go.