this is the title

This is the process of describing a thrice-daily perambulation along a specific grid-like configuration of streets and alleyways. It’s the beginning and the end all at once with the middle excised for brevity’s sake. Words are fit together to form a compelling narrative designed to exaggerate the significance of this chain of events. Through the use of a complex algorithm, details from thousands of similar perambulations have been extracted and connected to form a generic description suitable to represent the ongoing series.

Turning a corner there appears a panoramic view of downtown. One day there will be two more buildings on this block instead of a field, obscuring the view and evicting the red-winged blackbirds whose raucous calls now punctuate this observation. No more will the barn swallows arc with precision above the grass, soaring overhead and below knees. The city is a gaping mouth fitted with concrete teeth and asphalt tongue. All open space is in flux, available for negotiation by any wealthy interested parties.

Navigate another leftward right angle turn to complete the rectangular route. Arrive at the correct set of concrete steps leading up. Note the foul mess at the nest box opening left by the fledged house wren brood. Ants move in to investigate. In the garden coneflower blooms open. On the arched trellis coral honeysuckle buds battle to stay ahead of the aphids. Manual removal of the latter seems to be aiding the fight. Along the second level railing the gold dust plant exhibits the lush results of another vigorous growth spurt. Looking around, all appears to be in the usual foliar disarray. Now climb the steps, open the door, shut and lock it.

This is the conclusion of what was begun in the first paragraph. It serves to tie up any loose ends and bring the narrative to a satisfactory close. No new information is introduced so as to avoid confusing the reader, thus preventing any lingering uncertainty as to the nature of what has been heretofore presented. Thus, to be accurate, the true ending occurred with the period following the phrase ‘lock it,’ meaning one could actually stop reading there and not suffer any ill effects.


My noble co-pilot:

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Farley

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Farley

New arbor for the front yard below. Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) is creeping up the left side, although it’s hard to see in the sunlight. The hummingbirds should be pleased this summer.

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Arbor in front yard

shadow forecaster

The wind rises and scatters my attention span. How to greet a late January day warmed to the low 60s on the Fahrenheit scale? I feel a twinge of guilt enjoying it, knowing how unnatural it is and wondering much of this is our fault. Birds are migrating sooner, only to find food not yet abundant in their summer haunts. Southern insects are expanding their ranges northward. [Gardeners, take note!] Mother Nature’s long-established cues are failing her denizens. Are these little and not-so-little signs of impending ecological collapse? Perhaps. It would make sense. And surely we deserve it. Too long have we moved at the speed of profit, with blinders plastered to our fat heads. Our slavering consumerist jaws know no bounds. We think with our wallets, and we don’t remember any other way. We forgot how to mend and learned instead how to slide cards through readers. The problem is colossal in scale. The solutions too little, too late. So maybe all we can do now is pull up some chairs and wait for the end of this chapter of life on our planet. Bleak, perhaps, but it could just be my shadow speaking out again. Some days I let it do all my talking for me, and I just sit back and stare at the clouds.

the sound of drilling gets me down

Today they are repaving the street, thus deeming it unfortunate that this is the first Friday in a long long time that I’ve actually been home all day. Numbered among the factors that kept me at home instead of out romping in the forest and field with the birds were:  (1) logistical difficulties, (2) general malaise, and (3) the crash that comes at the end of migration (it’s just knowing that there will be far fewer birds out there, while most of the ones that are there are busy with family duties).  Even though I didn’t go out in the field, I did enjoy a bit of home birding.  I was happy to see some robins and mockingbirds gulping down wild cherries from both the tree out front and the weeping cherry out back.  And this morning a catbird’s constant song made the sounds of road resurfacing much more bearable.  Even a house finch stopped by to sit on the power line and sing his cheerful song, as a couple of goldfinches flew by in the background (haven’t seen many of them in the neighborhood this spring).

In general, though, I found that I did not enjoy being home all day.  I was restless and agitated, and while I did complete a few tasks I had wanted to, for the most part I languished unproductively.  I did not write the reviews I planned on writing (that are due in just over a week).  I tried but couldn’t bring myself to critique other people’s work, especially when I have absolutely nothing to show of my own, so really, what right do I have to criticize others when they are at least making an effort?  But whatever…it’s really neither here nor there what I did with my day.

As promised here are a few photos from last week, the first two of which are from Soldier’s Delight Natural Environmental Area.  

One of the blue-eyed grasses from Iridaceae, the Iris Family (I did not have my wildflower field guide with me, and the photo doesn’t allow for definitive identification of all the necessary field marks, but I think it’s either Sisyrinchium angustifolium or atlanticum). 

Eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus):

Finally, from the garden…


dragon monday breathing down your neck

Yes, once again it is Sunday night and I am reluctant to bring the weekend to a close. It started out great on Friday with an excellent day of birding at Lake Roland. Many new arrivals were on-site, both summer residents and migrants passing through.  I found most of the birds I was hoping to see, with the exception of a Brown Thrasher.  The day started out a bit slow but I eventually came upon a mixed flock of Palm Warblers and Yellow-rumped Warblers.  It was wonderful to see swallows hawking insects out over the lake again.  The crew I spotted included Barn, Tree, and Northern Rough-Winged.  Other highlights included a pair of Wood Ducks, three Red-tailed Hawks soaring on a thermal (as well as one being acrobatically harassed by a crow), a high-flying Black Vulture, and the buzzing of many newly returned Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.

Much of the rest of the weekend was spent working in the yard, ripping out the evil multiflora rose and pulling weeds.  I have battle scars from the rose bush.  Many of the vegetable seeds in our new raised bed have germinated over the past week (photo forthcoming).  Today we went to a native plant sale and bought an inkberry bush and two butterfly weed plants.  Unfortunately, I found out later that inkberry bushes are dioecious, which means they require a male and female plant in order to produce their berries.  Now we must determine what sex the plant is; if it’s a female, it will need a male to pollinate it.  If there’s not one in the neighborhood (probably not likely), then we need to plant a male so the birds can have their berries.

Tomorrow begins a new week of stifling office hell.  Hooray.  One day I will extinguish the putrid fire of the Monday dragon forever!

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