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As reasonably attuned city folk we’re accustomed to the animals, and the animal sounds, that one might find in an urban setting.

In a place like Takoma Park those sounds run the gamut from barking dogs and yowling cats through chattering squirrels all the way to the shrill and insistent squawk of a pileated woodpecker. One of my seasonal favorites is the mockingbird.

The male of that species picks a favorite perch up high and for hours each day sings its heart out for no apparent reason. In Takoma the steeple of the Adventist church in the town center is a good spot.

It’s a whole different matter here in Las Galeras, where we are no longer simply city folk.

The day might begin with the crowing of a particularly astute or remarkably stupid rooster who is perhaps anticipating the setting of the moon or the coming of the dawn, I don’t know which. Every other chicken on the campo has to mumble or call out a reply: “shut up,” or “yippee another day,” maybe a simple “, que passe, Clem.” I dunno. As I said, we’re city people.

Or the first animal sound of the day might be the familiar and sodden “thwap” of the frog returning home after a night on the town.

Either way, that first sound is soon followed by all the animals of the neighborhood, both domesticated and wild, captivated and free-range.

For starters we’re talking about cows, pigs, cuckoos and dogs, bleating sheep, gobbling turkeys and a braying jackass.

Come to think of it, those sounds don’t seem so different from those in the “other” Washington.

At 7:15 AM, mas o menos, we watch the cattle egrets fly to the fields for their morning shift. Just as predictably they fly the reverse route 12 hours later. I haven’t figured out what the several herds of cattle are up to, ebbing and flowing up and down the dirt track that is the road to la loma and our house. There is no discernable purpose to their movement, which is only occasionally governed by a small boy on a burro, a cowboy with a snap-popping bullwhip, or a really old guy who infrequently ambles after the herd like a half-remembered afterthought.

As often as not, the cattle are moving off and on this little hill untended and apparently of their own volition. This morning I saw the young burro skipping down the road happy as a lark, with no person and no big burro to be seen.

Speaking of happy larks, our mockingbird has been back for the past 6 or 8 weeks, singing for hours on end several times a day. He begins early and is at it now.

I think that I’ll bring a microphone and record the ambient sounds of life on this small mountain for a couple of hours. It should make a nice background when it’s cold in DC.

The hummingbirds are fattening up for their trip north and are nearly ready to set out. The whales have mostly left already, and Denise and I are beginning to think of doing the same.

It’s becoming apparent that certain projects will remain incomplete at our departure.

Again, not unlike DC.


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