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In Birdland, we sit on the porch in the gentle drizzle. The roof keeps us from getting wet, but the chickens don’t seem to mind the rain, continuing their slow meander through the yard, digging and pecking.

Ursula, the black dog, is on her third pear. They fall off the tree still green, and before I can find one in the grass, she has sniffed it out. My sister once told me my dog was fat, and I should put her on a diet to avoid painful back problems for her and expensive vet bills for me.

I did that, at least paid more attention to kibble portion control, but in harvest time, there is no way to control how many mulberries and pears she eats, and though I try to find eggs in the nest boxes before she can steal them, I’m not always successful, so she still grows fat.

The wind is pleasantly whispering through the leaves, but also whispers that fall has come. The goldenrod is in full bloom, the asters have just burst their tiny white stars all over my corner meadow, the beans are yellowing and the redbud leaves are outlined in a paler shade of green.

Ursula is on her fourth pear, but instead of chomping on it down in the yard, she has brought it up on the porch and dropped it at my feet. It is so hard that it makes a big bang on the wooden floor, like a rock.

These pears are not fit for eating, but they make decent-enough pear butter, if only I weren’t so spoiled by the big yellow pears Pam lets me pick from her trees.

Ursula, however, enjoys them. She has had a belly full by now, so she is content to offer this one to me.

The skies are overcast and clouds ramble past, showing darker and lighter gray as they go.

Cate from Cincinnati is in the chair next to mine, and Michael has brought another out of the house. They two, my husband and my dear friend, are reading and I peck away at the computer.

It’s good to have friends you can be quiet with.

Ursula has taken back her pear gift and hidden it somewhere for later. I’m going to guess it is in the corner meadow because she has come back with a streak of burrs on her back and some kind of brown sticky seeds nestled in one of her haunches.

I hear the distant buzz of a propeller plane. Beyond the bean field, the corn is still pretty green, but I saw my first combine shaving a field of corn on the way to work this week.

We are waiting for more friends, Paulie and another Michael, to join us, and then the rain will stop, and we will walk around the yard for a bit. I will show off my new Siberian irises dug from Bryant Cottage by the Master Gardeners, and we will decide to take a spur-of-the-moment field trip to Bement.

At the cottage, we will meet a lovely young woman who will give us a detailed history lesson with our tour of the four-room cottage where Lincoln and Douglass met to plan their series of famous debates.

She will tell us that the tiny cottage was pretty common for the times and, it seems to me, it did the Bryant family well as a starter house. She’ll point out the indicators of wealth you might not find in most houses in a prairie town, like two warming stoves (in the parlor and the sitting room), in addition to the cookstove in the kitchen (which itself was pretty fancy with levers to control temperature) and the (now reproduction) wallpaper and carpets that more modest cottages wouldn’t have had.

We’ll ask her to take a photo of us on the porch, and she’ll invite us to walk around the grounds and see the beds where my Siberian irises were dug from.

But for now, it’s enough to have a little quiet time, three friends on theporch, not having to say much of anything.

Walk in beauty; work in peace; blessed be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. You can follow Birdland on Instagram (@BirdlandLetters) and Twitter (@BirdlandLetters). Mary can be reached at or via snail mail care of this newspaper.