Water. We human mammals – those of us born without fins, anyway – spend nine months in a balloon full of the stuff, plotting our escape, then spend much of our air-breathing lives trying to at least live next to it. We pay a premium for housing as close to it as we can to a stream, lake or ocean and post signs around it announcing our success to those who must settle for looking out their front windows at our back doors.
I finally photographed my first Osprey.
He came up from a creek, across the corn field where I stood trying to grab
some pictures of Red-winged Blackbirds./p>
I wonder what he thought of the stranger standing alongside the road. He had seen humans, sometimes walking, sometimes driving a tractor, carving rows in the soil.
‘Tis the season, for bicycle riding for some of us. I’ve hauled mine down from its hook in the garage. The wheels still are round and seem to stay that way under the weight of Yours Truly. Now to put some miles on it, as my medical person has been recommending. I walk quite a bit, or maybe it just seems that way.
There is something about the color of the trees after a heavy
rain, like a master painter had poured an extra ration of pigment onto the
canvas. There is a marked richness and intensity to the forest that wants to enfold
I eat red grapes the way some
people eat Hershey Kisses, or jelly beans. One at a time, sometimes two, by the
handful. Green grapes, not so much.
Earlier this spring, the
grocery store was selling large plastic bags full of red grapes for, well, an
affordable price. The price was proclaimed in large black letters; one had to
squint a bit to see whether it was a bag or a pound.
I have pictures of them chasing each other around the wood, playing tag, showing off, and sometimes producing copies of themselves.
When many of us think of the woolly mammoth, I’m guessing we think of Queen Latifah, or at least the voice she gave to Ellie the woolly mammoth in the “Ice Age” movie franchise. For the record, the ice age ended about 11,000 years ago, and so did Ellie and her mate, Manny.
One thing I’ve learned about dogs is, “don’t buy one.” The only dog to ever live with me that I paid for didn’t stay long.
Actually, I think someone stole him to hunt deer – you could
use dogs in Virginia when I lived there. I bet he didn’t object when the
dognapper promised a life in the woods. In a way, I don’t blame him.
LBelow and in front of the porch rail, the surface of Marsh
Creek is smooth like a 200-year-old farmhouse window pane, smoothly rippled as
the flow wanders and eddies its way to lower elevations. Reflections of creekside
oaks and sycamores decorate the translucent surface of the flow, itself browned
from nearby mountains’ muddied runoff – poor man’s fertilizer, some farmers call
it –in rounded jaggies across the stream. A short way up the creek, mated Red-tailed
hawks and a few Bald eagles prepare for their new families.
Across the glassine stage at the foot of the hill there pass
pairs of Canada Geese, a few mallards and their current loves – Canada geese
mate for life, mallards for convenience – and a clan of mergansers.
Like the rest of us, when the cost of some new endeavor outweigh
the potential benefits, we balk at increasing our expenses. My mom had an aging
pickup and wondered whether it was time to trade.
Red-tailed hawks are
warming to togetherness, indicating, more accurately than that four-legged
critter from Punxsutawney, that the weather also is soon to warm. Of course,
most Red-tailed hawks do not have television cameras staring at them to record
whether they see their shadow while swooping down on an unsuspecting breakfast.
It snowed last night. We had some snow – in November, I
think – that caused me to drag out the snowthrower. Since then, the machine has
been gathering dust in the garage, with still almost a half tank of last winter’s
gasoline in the tank.
Starlings are back. Murmurating clouds on snack break turn
large sections of local lawns black where they hide what is left of last week’s
My column writing career officially began in 1974, on Adak Island, in the middle of the Aleutian Chain about four hours from Anchorage in a fairly fast turboprop aircraft.
I wrote about mostly outdoorsy issues and about wandering around the tundra in the company of a Bald Eagle named J Edgar, who in turn got his name from one of my favorite Mason Williams ballads. J Edgar and I lived in a hollow log on the back side of the island, which was a puzzlement to many readers because there were no trees large enough to be hollow to be found on the island.
We went away to visit relatives we had not seen in too long, leaving behind trees in the beginning stages of fall color change, and returned to find our trees – well, most of them – naked.
I’ve visited Florida several times, even lived in the northeastern part of the state about five years in my 20s – but the want-to has been my closest approach to the Everglades. In my younger years, I must admit seeing it as just another tourist attraction, a huge swamp, home for some birds, and maybe a few alligators.
A recent airboat ride in the Everglades showed me it’s way more than a tourist attraction.
Coming up on a year ago, I visited an eye doctor. I was constantly crying. My eyes would not stop with the waterworks.
He told me the problem was I was not making tears, which was irritating my eyes, which was making them water like Marsh Creek after that rain we had at the end of July. He prescribed eye drops that would make me make tears so my eyes wouldn’t be irritated so they would not, well, make tears.
When I was about to retire from the Navy and move back to where I was raised, folks often would ask why I would want to move to the north woods.
“There’s nothing there,” they almost uniformly pronounced.
Well, not quite but, relatively, close.
Outside my window, the sky is falling. That’s what we say when the clouds, over-encumbered by wind, temperature and moisture, fall to the ground in large torrents of, usually, vertical rivers.
Meanwhile, flocks of eiders bounce in the waves, drifting upwind and down, occasionally diving, presumably for snacks, much as I dive for a box of Triscuits or a handful of grapes. We’re not so much different, the ducks and me.
“Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren’t paved.” Will Rogers said that, and I agree. I have invested a considerable portion of my travels searching out unpaved roads. Or at least roads less traveled.