Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Geese Are Not the Least

I’ve got about a dozen fat little squirrels down there, chewing away on the seeds I threw out there this morning.  They are an industrious bunch.  The believe that eating beyond one’s needs is the best insurance against food shortage.  And then, just like that, they all scatter, fast.  It was a false alarm.  Within a minute they return without much ceremony.  Was it a bird call that set them off?  Was it a warning signal from one of the squirrels themselves?  Are there squirrel punishments for “crying wolf?”  Are there some members of the community that no one takes seriously?

The sun still hasn’t yet struck our yard, rising from east behind me.  But nearly all the canopy stretching out for miles to the west is drenched in morning light.  Overhead a dozen geese just went right across our airspace.  Nobody cried-wolf when this took place.  Everyone seems to know that geese are not the least bit threatening.  Neither are the crows.  Those little squirrel eyes can tell the difference, even one hundred yards or more away, if a large soaring object is a goose or a red tailed hawk. 

Sipping coffee, but I probably out to head to bed.  Slept a bit but rose for a call in the middle of the night.  By then I was up.  Did the next call at 2:00AM and another one at 5:00AM.  Just before the 6:30AM call I began to feel it.  This Kenyan coffee I bought yesterday at Starbucks kept the nod at-bay for that call and the send-off of my daughter at the top of the driveway, as the big yellow school bus arrived.  Driving back down The Pidge on the WFMU “Wake and Bake” show was playing sloppy-sexy thrash from Detroit that had me laughing as I drove back down the hill. 

Now I’m sitting here with a second cup.  Tastes good.  But I am at odds with the crisp winter morning that everyone else is presumably stepping out into.  Perhaps I’ll go out on the porch and look around with the binoculars and then come back in for a nap.  There is nothing pressing.  I’d managed a few steps ahead of the curve, working through the night.  

My 6:30AM meeting made me laugh.   He was in Brazil, it's two hours later in the day there, and he reminded me that Carnival would begin this weekend.  I asked him to send me some photos to which he replied that it was probably better if he did not.   

To the porch then.  Off you go.

Wednesday 02/19/20

Will Always Get You

I’m from 5:00AM on a call.  It’s over at 6:30AM and I tell one person and then another that I’ll be free in thirty minutes.  When my younger one heads downstairs, I’ve already got the car keys out so I can go warm the car up.  This her first day back at school after her Quebec trip and after the Monday, President’s Day holiday.  “Can I get a ride over to school this morning?”  I had one and then another call queued up.  “I need to finish some homework and I can’t do it on the bus.”   I grumble a bit but acquiesce.  Homework, even last minute efforts with homework, will always get you special consideration. 

She sits at the dining room table and I return to reschedule one call and take another just now.  Remarkably good news on a deal I’m cooking with two other fellows.  Wow.  Could it be that straightforward?  It isn’t.  But I’m buzzing on this all way over to Poughkeepsie, considering, idly, what a wonderful thing it would be if this deal came through.  I’ve already spent all the money I’ll make in my mind’s eye. 

My wife dug up a pair of speakers from the basement that plug into my computer.  We tested them out and they pack a punch.  Sounds good, even from the other room.  All our stuff is in storage back in Beijing and I’ve been putting up with the tinny sound of my lap top or my phone for much of last six months.  It’s good to finally have some depth.  I play a Red Garland album “Red Alert”, featuring Harold Land on tenor which I play once and then play again, loud enough to enjoy in the other room.

Later in the day I’ve got to mail something off to the IRS.  It’s the same postal lady I dealt with last time.  She’s kind, patient.  I feel for her as she is forced to repeat the same question about whether or not there are lithium-ion-batteries in my letter, even though she just saw me put the simple form in.  “Do you want any stamps?”  She is required to ask me.  She asks me.  Like everyone else I tell her “no.”

Tuesday, 02/18/20

A Gallon of Sunflower

Early morning, I take an empty milk gallon carton I’d cut the bottom out of and fill it with sunflower seeds.  A cup bearer with a crude vessel, I head off around the garage and down into the back yard.  Once I come into my office window’s view, I begin tossing seeds around on the lawn area, first down below, and then back up towards my window.  I can hear the birds and the squirrels in the bush talking amidst themselves about this strange development, as I walk back to the front door, with a gallon of sunflower seeds now deposited on the lawn. 

Predictably, squirrels and sparrows and cardinals and blue jays as well as a few chipmunks, are all beginning to scour the lawn, by the time I’m back up at my desk.  There is far more available than any one creature could consume, but they still bicker chase each other away from their petty hoards.  And even these efforts are half-hearted because there is such a bounty.   Their activity also attracts the next rung of the food chain.  There are foxes and fishers in the woods, owls in the trees and hawks sailing around overhead.  There is nothing half-hearted about what happens once someone on the lawn has indicated that there is danger afoot:  In that case, everyone clears the open ground in a flash, with chipmunks in bushes and squirrels up trees.  Every time it happens, I take a glance upward to see if there is a hawk in the sky.  Usually, though it seems to be just a false alarm and they slowly return to what they’d been doing.  It is impossible for any of them to relax when they eat.  Peril is always close at hand. 

We took a walk later in the day, down to the trail.  The big barred owl that was calling the other day, cut off to the left, through the woods, as we made our way down the yard.  I took my binoculars with me for the walk and tried to find him.  Remarkable how he can fly so capably with his broad wings through the dense winter brush.  We cut around to the trail and when we did he flew off again.  But by now he was too far and I could only see his shape in the distance.  Later, down on the rail trail, fifty yards off in the opposite direction, what must have been a different owl, (the significant other?) flew off to the north west.  Once again, I only got a glimpse. 

At around 5:30PM, the sun was setting and my sister and my nephew stopped by.  We were eating cheese and humous in the living room when I told everyone to “shhh” and stretched over to turn off the music.  “There he is.  Can you hear him?”   Four staccato hoots followed by five.  Over and over.  I looked out and the twilight on the lawn.  No owl within site and certainly no little critters anywhere to be seen, down on the lawn. 

Monday 02/17/20