I love watching the stars, like LED Christmas lights pinned to a blanket stretched like a child’s bedroom tent over my head. They all seem to be the same distance from where I lay, just out of reach of my fingers, though in my mind I know the distances from me to them varies.
There was a time when I enjoyed laying up wood for the winter fire. I would go into the woods to look for trees with signs of demise. Maples with dead limbs often were hollow, leaving a heavy shell of would-be human and, sometimes, field mice, comfort on dark frigid nights.
Imagine a movie in which you could walk around among the characters and activities. You can reach out and touch them, talk with them, and see them interact with each other.
Wandering in the forest is like that, where you’re an actor in a perpetually changing story, where trees are the stars of the show, providing the environment for the panoply of other characters.
We humans think we are special, and we are, but we are not quite unique. We have many similarities to many other inhabitants of our biosphere.
We have hearts and lungs and brains. Even fish have the same organs except notably, they breathe through gills that enable them to extract oxygen to fuel the rest of their machinery.
The pandemic has been a boon to plastics makers. Nowhere is that more obvious than in hospitals. It seems nearly everything in the hospital is plastic, single-use.
They once provided a cup of ice and a pitcher for the patient to have a steady supply of water. Since the pandemic set in, water refills come each in a new cup, which goes, when emptied, in the landfill.
Another plastic peskiness comes with take-out food. I have to remember to tell the person handing my dinner that I am eating at home and have no need for another set of plastic knives and forks.
I always have preferred to aimlessly wander, even on seemingly well-defined pathways, with little or no clear destination in mind. My Partner-in-Travel says I’m always looking everywhere except where I’m going. She exaggerates, but not by much.
I look also where I’m going. There is so much going on out there, and I don’t want to miss any of it, and it’s not really difficult to look in multiple places at one time.
A few years ago, a nearby township turned down a proposed zoning ordinance. Opponents declared a god-given right to do as they wished with their land – until a neighbor opened an entertainment venue in which young, mostly unclad, women danced and served customers. Suddenly, zoning was a divine protection.
Occasionally I peruse columns I’ve written to see whether I have changed my mind. For instance, I have not changed my opinion that too many Big Media reporters cloak their reporting with an emperor’s robe of non-information as they all seem to read from the same press release, and turn phrases of one into clichés of the other.
Repeatedly, for instance, we heard emphasized how much gasoline prices had increased “from the previous year,” with no mention that the “previous year” had sent gas prices plummeting when people stopped vacationing and commuting during the early years of the pandemic.
The coming spring is warming, though barely unfrozen, like the pond the first time I try to go swimming after ice-out, when I know if I’d just jump in it would be fine for the rest of summer but not yet so I walk in slowly, and feel the blue slide up my legs.
One day, probably soon, I’ll just jump in all the way and be fine.
In the middle of the 19th Century, oil refineries began pumping out kerosene, refined from crude oil, to light lamps along American streets. Kerosene had a useless byproduct which refiners, including Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller, needed to evacuate.
The events in eastern Europe over the past week (or 16 years) compare eerily with an episode of the popular television series, “Yellowstone.” Of particular note are the responses from several of our politicians who have pronounced their admiration for the biker club leader, er, Vladimir Putin.
In the TV story, a passing motorcycle gang cuts a barbed wire fence and moves into the pasture to build a fire and drink some beer. They are having a grand time when a couple of hands from the ranch stop to advise the intruders they were on private land and should leave. A fight ensues and the bikers leave rather than be buried in the pasture.
A couple of us were sitting around swapping tales of winter and keeping our coffee from getting cold. We all had seen snowy mornings, though not lately.
Our first snowfall of the year had left about an inch on the ground. The resident Keeper of Order In the Home gave her permission to not even shovel.
My trusty navigator and I took a drive last weekend, to Cincinnati, my son and the Cincinnati Bengals. Our drive took us across miles of unseasonably barren farmland virtually devoid of snow.
I’ve been making the trip for decades. I don’t recall any year in mid-February when there was so much brown ground.
Reading a book this week about Mother trees, I felt a need to find a picture of the author. I do that a lot. It is part of my relationship with the storyteller.
Sometimes I dig a little deeper into her background. Mostly I learn of her life from the story she tells, but my mind always wants to see her face.
Super Bowl Sunday is less than two weeks away. I’m looking forward to the annual get-together in front of the electronic moving-picture machine, all in bright sounds and colors, instant replays and live explanations from the refs.
It was not always thus.
I went out after the mail the other night. It is not a long walk. That odd tinkling sound when I came in was the water I’d drunk just before going out – turned to ice cubes in my tummy.
It’s Winter Olympics time. This year, the mountains are in Beijing, China.
In the Olympics, young people work hard for years with their eyes on the Gold. Skiers strengthen their legs and practice their timing, hoping some day someone will notice. One day, some of them find themselves on a mountain, competing for the honor of being named Best in the World.
Sidney Poitier left us last week, after my deadline for submitting my weekly wanderings. The myriad of TV accolades almost uniformly left out one of the most memorable of his scenes – at least to a certain young man then only two years out of high school.
Cabin Fever is that mid-winter ailment that forces one, eventually, to either leave the house or kill everyone too slow to escape. In some ways, I feel as though the ailment arrived shortly after Christmas a year ago and never really left.
In the past three years, maybe four, I haven’t burned a tank of snowthrower gas. One of those years I never even took the thing out.
“You should feel lucky then, haha,” my nephew wrote in a chat.
Nope. He is young enough to think clearing snow is a chore. I used to love clearing our driveway late at night, just me and the machine’s headlight and a stream of snow.