It was just past eight-fifteen.
The brilliant golden sunlight of a late summer morning danced on the small pond across the yard from my kitchen window.
I grabbed my old blue windbreaker from behind the kitchen door and slipped it on over my head and shoulders as I hurried outside. The zipper had broken months ago and "over my head" was the only way I could get it on. It was like an early morning wrestling match. I just didn't have the heart to pitch it in the bin. Of course, I could have grabbed a hoodie from the hall closet but I was in a hurry. Harriet, Lulu and Mr. George- my Toulouse Geese, would be waiting by the rickety picket fence for our morning walk.
We walked every morning at the same time.
A walk first and then all three would patiently wait for me to pour their morning feed into the three empty bowls that sat next to the old barn door.
A minute later I rounded the corner of the barn opposite the old cherry tree and there they stood. Mr. George was tapping one webbed foot looking indignant and wondering why he should have to delay his summer hike because of a human who obviously didn't value the purpose of a time clock.
"Hey Kids"- I called.
Harriet and Lulu honked a good morning in unison but I could see that Mr. George would take a little longer to warm up this morning due to my tardiness.
I understood how he felt.
Yesterday morning I was barely awake when I had to pull on my wellies at seven thirty to herd the sheep back up the path and into their pen. Someone hadn't closed the gate after letting them into the yard after a cozy night in the barn. That someone wasn't bright-eyed and bushy-tailed yet.
Now, one might think it was me who left the gate wide open- I suppose, however, it was more likely Karl. Karl was the hired hand.
He was probably a little tipsy after spending a few hours in the local pub as he was want to do. He'd perhaps forgotten his late night checks around the yard as he stumbled into the cottage at the edge of the apple orchard.
Sometimes I wondered if Karl understood any of my broken German at all. The past three months, I had insisted he speak to me in his native tongue- mostly. I was preparing for a tour of Germany ending with a wonderful cruise of the Rhine.
I think maybe a tour of England's Cotswolds might have been easier to prepare for!
Maybe next year.
The girls- and Mr. George and I, headed off through the south gate and along the leafy lane.
They honked happily to each other looking up at me now and again expecting me to join in the morning conversation.
I was interested in all the usual barnyard gossip.
I really was you know.
It was an entirely different world.
The ducks- according to Harriet were being their normal "quacky" selves and interrupted the Toulouse's quiet morning.
Mr. George insisted on quiet in the morning too. According to him, Bobbi the grey mare consistently whinnied at the morning sun and insisted on all that "horsey" singing to welcome the summer morning- much to the chagrin of Mr. George.
Peter the Pig and his girlfriend Brenda kept their pen in a horrendous state and something must be done to rectify the situation. At least according to Lulu.
"It was most distressing" she honked, especially when folks came over for a visit and had a chance to look over the driftwood fence into the pig's pen.
"A regular sty to be sure!" she added as she waddles along.
We had reached a turn in the lane where we headed left into the apple orchard. Harriet and Lulu chomped on a couple of fallen apples while Mr. George strolled over to the stream that cut across the orchard, eventually emptying into Lake Bee just on the other side of the road. He had a quick flap in the warm water and re-joined us as we head back through the orchard, past Karl's Cottage- where it was still very quiet- and into the barn yard.
I grabbed the bag of feed and filled all three Goose Bowls to the brim. All of the Toulouse Geese honked their appreciation- even Mr. George. I headed back to the house for coffee taking one last look over my right shoulder never expecting to see Karl standing at the door to his cottage slurping from a large mug.
I smiled and walked on to my kitchen door.
Soon, the enduring ritual of a country day would control all of the hours ahead.
The country life.
It's the quiet.
The clear blue sky and the sparkling waters of Lake Bee and Karl too.
It was the very definition of a bucolic lifestyle and I loved it.
All of it.