It’s a little after 7 in the morning here in the mountains. We had another frost last night – I can hear the frost melting off the roof and onto the back steps. I can hear it quite distinctly, because the window right above my pillow is still open just a bit, as it was last night. No, I wasn’t wasting electricity or fuel. We don’t have the main furnace installed yet and I couldn’t get the space heater plugged in – old oil heater plug plus old electrical outlet equals no heat. But I truly don’t mind – it must be the old Girl Scout in me that just loves the outside air, no matter what time of year it is! When I was a girl and my family was on a road trip, Mom used to tell Dad, “Okay, I need some real air now!” as she reached to turn off the air conditioning. Guess I have a bit of Mom in me, too!
So last night, I piled on the covers. Nothing quite like snuggling under the weight of several blankets when it’s chilly outside (and inside) to make me feel all is right with the world. And then I cranked open the louvered window just enough so I could hear Seneca Rocks at night.
Mountain sounds are the best. I guess some folks would argue that nothing beats the sound of surf pounding on a beach, but for me, it’s a treat to listen to the night creatures and the North Fork River churning its way through the bedrock. Before moving here, my home was fairly close to I-95 and its parallel highway, Route 1. I mention Route 1 because whenever traffic came to a halt on I-95, as it did a few times a week, every vehicle was diverted to Route 1. That was within walking distance of my townhouse. You can imagine the traffic noises I heard constantly. Sirens screamed frequently as emergency vehicles raced to the next accident on the interstate. Air traffic was ever-present, too, as were the “Sounds of Freedom” from Quantico Marine Corps Base. It was typical to hear muffled explosions from the base as different training exercises were conducted; occasionally, Quantico’s public relations office would issue a “Noise Advisory” when drills were going to get really loud. “Residents in the immediate vicinity of Marine Corps Base Quantico may experience an increase in noise as an affect from training or range clearance operations…” No kidding! I can only imagine how loud it must be when the Marines are close to those detonations. On rare occasions, it felt like a truckload of C-4 had gone off in front of my home.
You can understand that listening to mountain sounds is a very pleasant change for me. In the past few nights, I’ve heard fox kits playing beneath a full moon, the river as it tumbles over bedrock ledges in the “Blue Hole”, and on one night, an owl hooting from its perch on Germany Knob. I’ve never heard an owl hoot quite as loud or as deep as that owl! In my estimation, judging on sound alone, I would guess that old owl is about four feet tall. Imagine its wingspan! (Yep, I do have a good imagination!)
So even when it’s chilly here, I love cracking the window above my pillow open ever so slightly just to hear the night sounds. When I woke yesterday, it was 51 degrees in the house; this morning, it’s feeling downright balmy at 55.
Our dog, Snickle-Fritz, feels every temperature change, I’m sure. He has a very short coat and gets cold easily. The dear thing has been known to stand at the side of the bed and try to nose his way under the covers very s-l-o-w-l-y, as if I’d never notice his 65 pound body sliding ever so gracefully (?) into bed. Snickle really gets cold! I can’t help but make room for him when he jumps on the bed and dives under the covers. Look at his face – who could resist that?
Obviously, not me. Sharing my bed with a big lump of warm dog has all sorts of benefits in the mountains. Not only is Snickle as warm as a loaf of bread fresh from the oven, he curls up right next to me like an enormous, living teddy bear. I love this!
I discovered another advantage to having a dog under the covers with me on a cold night. Last night, I didn’t wear socks to bed and my feet were like blocks of ice. Not wishing to get out of bed – and into the chilly air – to retrieve a pair of socks, I did the next best thing. I wriggled my feet toward Snickle-Fritz. S-l-o-w-l-y. He never even noticed. So I wormed my toes in a bit closer to his delightfully toasty tummy. He didn’t stir! It was heavenly, thawing my frozen feet on Snickle’s warm, soft skin.
Folks know that a dog is good for a number of things – companionship, protection, and around here, bear hunting. But on cold nights, my dog is better than a pair of socks!