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Just taking a day off lets you enjoy the wonders of nature.

Byline: Bill Fortier

COLUMN: SOUTH COUNTY NOTEBOOK

I knew there was a reason why I took last Monday off.

And it was more than it allowed me to skip the Auburn Board of Selectmen meeting that night, although I have to admit that was most appreciated.

Truth is, your loyal scribe does enjoy covering selectmen meetings, because in at least some way, we're telling the people in town about what is going on. But, a break is nice and it gives you a chance to recharge your proverbial battery.

At least in theory, anyway.

But what really recharges at least this ink-stained wretch's battery is a day and evening wandering around the garden and yard up there on Prospect Hill in Auburn.

Maybe the day was so nice because the June 11 forecast called for a cool northeast wind and clouds, kind of like what descended on the area later in the week.

Turns out much of the day was warm and sunny, sort of a bonus weather day, you might say.

All in all, a very nice day to end a vacation.

So, I grabbed a cigar and a beer about 2 p.m.

Yes, I know in these politically correct times that's probably a bad thing, but, hey, it was a sunny, warm day and that pretty much sums it up. No explanations or apologies will be forthcoming.

And besides, summer starts Thursday afternoon, and let's face it, is there anything better than hanging around outside in the sun?

Sure beats watching television.

Walking amid the tomato plants last Monday afternoon, a rustling of vegetation off to the side of the garden was heard and tiger cat Fletcher was spotted darting into the greenery in front of a tree where several robins were also enjoying the beauty of the day.

Suddenly, there was loud squawking - I think maybe there were some blue jays lounging around - and about six birds fluttered out of Fletcher's striking range.

Several minutes later, Fletcher came slinking out of the area, looked at the tree with the noisy birds, licked his paw and lay down in the sun.

Fletcher, by the way, had better luck on Saturday when he proudly brought a chipmunk into the house to show us. That caught the attention of Maddy the Rottweiler, who roused herself off the kitchen floor tile to offer some assistance.

And when you think about it, you have to say it is really pretty good being a dog. After all, a dog can lay around on the cool kitchen floor on a hot day, which is something that yours truly has always wanted to do on a summery day.

When you spend time away from the city, among the differences are that you can see more sky, hear more things because it is quiet, and see more colors because there's more wildlife.

For example, by late afternoon, thunderheads started to build up off to the east and west of Prospect Street, and by 5, it was thundering even though the sun was still out. From about 6 to 8 p.m. there was a train of thunderstorms that passed by to the west, but not a drop fell on Prospect Hill.

Just after 6, Kathy decided she wanted to do some work in the garden, so I went out and helped, which in this case, was prattle on about what an enjoyable afternoon it had been.

By then the sun was hot on my back and neck and, well, you just can't beat summer.

You can't beat the colors in the yard, either.

As we walked to the just-past-their peak pink lilacs, a large yellow and black butterfly hovered close by.

Being a city kid, the assumption on this end was it was a monarch butterfly.

Isn't every butterfly a monarch butterfly?

Research, however, revealed it was an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

Just behind that is an arch of purple wisteria, where a big, black and yellow bumblebee was hard at work.

Just a real rush of colors.

Later in the evening, static on the AM radio meant there were some thunderstorms nearby.

A return trip to the yard resulted in seeing heat lightning flashing in the star-lit night sky.

And - this is the real difference between a quiet town and a loud city - barely perceptible rumbles of thunder could be heard with the brightest flashes.

In Worcester, there is no such thing - at least in most spots of the city.

You will see the heat lightning, but you don't hear the thunder until it is on top of you.

Just for the record, a search of various Web sites shows that thunder can be heard usually up to 15 miles away, sometimes 20 miles.

The thunder that night was far different than the crashing that went on Saturday afternoon when bolts ripped through the sky on Prospect Hill for about 30 minutes and a good friend said a close flash of lightning and ear-piercing thunder near St. John's Church on Temple Street in Worcester sent some church-goers walking outside after the Mass scurrying back inside.

No need for the faithful to worry, however. After all, how many parents have told children scared during a summer storm that thunder is just angels who are bowling.

And so with that, happy summer.

Step outside and just look around, sniff the air and listen to nature. It beats anything you can see on the television or computer.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jun 18, 2007
Words:909
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