The dusk of evening seeped down off the purple bluffs, spreading over the apple orchard like frosting on a cake. Ahead of him lay the pine-green hills arched with the filigreed glow of sunset. A cardinal darted into the orchard, a crimson blue that might have been flung from the rising moon to necklace the shadow-shrouded trees. Lanky and thoughtful, the sandy blond boy felt more than saw the change as the sun slipped below the horizon and left the orchard in the cool blue light of fading day.
Nathan came to the orchard to think. In a rare moment of sedentary silence, the vivacious nine-year-old pondered recent events in the Hill County of south Texas:
ベ The afternoon spent patiently squatting in the muddy banks of a pond scrambling after frogs, tadpoles, crickets and toads
ベ Herding a feisty flock of chickens into the coop, including ｡ｧGrumpy｡ｨ, an MCWI (Mama Chicken With Attitude)
ベ Canon0balling into the chlorinated swimming pool at his new church
ベ Filling his omnipresent Bug Jar with enough grasshoppers, cicadas, geckos and other ｡ｧcreepy crawlies｡ｨ to make Steve Irwin proud ｡ｧBy cracky!｡ｨ
ベ ｡ｧConversing｡ｨ with a doe and her two fawns just 30 feet from his front door. These skittish, placid creatures allowed the boy close enough to count their spots.
ベ Redeeming a Red-Eared Slider Turtle from an asphalt grave. Later, Nat-o headed the parade celebrating the creature｡ｦs release in a nearby creek
ベ Playing Sharks & Minnows in the pool with his Dad and three brothers
ベ Sharing a star-spangled evening with Dad and his siblings. ｡ｧThe guys｡ｨ gazed in awe a velvet black sky peppered with pinpricks of light while tracing God｡ｦs handiwork ｡ｧfrom here to eternity｡ｨ with constellation charts, flashlights, and popcorn.
There was also the week of Vacation Bible School (VBS) where the boy joined 100 other kids for Cruisn｡ｦ the Amazin｡ｦ Amazon and the hot, sticky day wading and visiting dinosaur prints at the nearest town｡ｦs wilderness park.
A dinner-scented breeze ruffled the cedar trees. Frying onions, chili, enchilada, nachos and picante sauce flavored the rustling wind. He heard his mother calling him to set the picnic table. It was too hot to eat inside. Again. That was fine with Nathan ｡ｧDr. Doolittle｡ｨ Lowder. He loved the Big Outdoors almost as much as he loved adding critters to his ever-enlarging Texas menagerie. Grinning, he headed to the porch at the close of another south Texas day.
Now he knew what the cowboys mean why they sing, ｡ｧDon｡ｦt Fence Me In.｡ｨ He hummed the tune, too.
From Under the Starry South Texas Skies,
Chris and Kristine, for Nathan too!