Monday, September 24, 2007

What Yer Litter Says About Yew

I have about 3/4 of a mile of road shoulder to clean. This is what I find, in order of volume:

Beer cans; soda cans; beer bottles; empty cigarette packs; pint bottles of Seagram's 7 (once I found an empty gallon bottle of vodka); scores of those plastic "Big Drink" "car cups," plus their tops and straws; paper and styrofoam trash from Mickey D's, Hardee's, BK, DQ, KFC, Jack's, White Castle; styrofoam coffee cups; tins from chewin'-tobacco (I thought everybody was too smart nowadays to take up that habit!); chip bags; candy wrappers.

And that's the stuff they aren't too ashamed to throw out of their cars. That's America, seen from the angle of those who clean your road shoulders. I hope you'll all have just as much fun at the CAT-scan center!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

11 Reasons Why MO is Better than WI

I love Wisconsin, but in Missouri we have:
  1. Barbecue
  2. Tomatoes and okra in one can
  3. Very few ice storms
  4. Grits
  5. Fossils
  6. Hills
  7. Polite teenagers, most of 'em
  8. Banks that give out bags of fresh popcorn on Fridays, and celebrate their birthdays with public hot-dog cookouts in their parking lots
  9. Legal fireworks
  10. Armadillos
  11. Postal clerks who will weigh your biggest tomato (Last one I saw: an old man brought in a tomato tipping the scale at 2 lbs. 1 oz; everybody in the waiting-line cheered.)

Pride Goes Before a Fall

The hummingbirds arrived here April 12. They departed September 22. That's five months and one week. Nearly half the year. So I shouldn't complain when I saw only one "bed and breakfast" migrant this morning, and she may be the last. It's just. . .

. . . that summer made me feel so RICH. Up to my shoulders in grass; turnips early and tomatoes late; hills tufted with broccoli-green; five kinds of basil; dew; I saw and reveled in it all. Then today, the autumn equinox.

To cure my panic -- because the thought of winter makes me feel put-upon and poor -- I hiked a prairie and saw my first blue gentians. I found a teepee stitched together with twigs and went inside and lay down; the light sifting inside was gold, and the sky above the lodgepoles bright blue; it is always autumn inside a teepee.

Autumn lasts as long as summer. My 51st autumn, leading into my 51st winter. Dread it? What for? This is my royal road!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It's Down a Ways, and That's God's Truth. . .

I'm not from here, so I say "crick" and "Rout 66," and if I'm giving someone directions I say, "It's down a ways," and I call a drinking fountain a "bubbler," and a haymow a "haymau," and if I was from a little farther north than I am I would call soda "pop," but I ain't such a hick as all that.

Here people say, "Better 'n' a sharp stick in the eye," and "His ain't the brightest porch light on the block," and "dumb as a bag of hammers," and an ugly woman can "sit on a tombstone and hatch haints," and a little west of here they say "It dudn't," when they mean "It doesn't," but I ain't such a hick as all that -- and they call a hick -- one who doesn't have any manners and doesn't care -- a "hoosier," which is a fightin' word, and nothing to do with Indiana.

And they finish a fervent statement with, "and that's God's truth." That last one I picked up and said, without thinking, in front of a bunch of people from out East who were visiting, and they cut their eyes at each other, like they was really gettin' local color.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

What Did I Run Over?

Doing 55 mph On Hwy 109 late on Thursday night, something shadowy entered my headlights. Definitely a quadruped, but not a deer; it looked like a cat, but a strangely large one -- was it a fox? A young fox? They're almost never run over. . . It panicked, and began to flee to the right, and I braked, but too late. Whatever it was went "whump" against the bumper on the passenger side.

Shocked, I realized that it was too late and dark, and the road too narrow, for me to back up and see what it was and if I had killed it, or if I could somehow save it, maybe getting it out of harm's way. The next day I checked the bumper for blood or damage. It was normal. I looked for bloodstains on 109 but couldn't remember the accident's exact location, and anyway did not see any -- and there was no road kill.

Maybe it lived.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hungry Hummingbirds

In droves -- glittering little bits of birds, but geared for battle -- hummingbirds are fueling up at the nectar feeders for their annual trip to Mexico.

They are tough little things but weigh less than a penny. They fight each other, and never get along! And they are all big drinkers! If they were people, they would be like the brawlers in the parking lot after last call.

Last year they left here on September 27. I know they will be back, but it's hard to feel consoled for the loss, for six months, of these buzzing little whirlwind beings, so very different from any others it makes me wonder what God had in mind -- or if they ARE little glittering pieces of some great intelligence.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Snake Suicide

This snake in the creek had its head plunged into the mud underwater. Oddest thing. It did not look dead -- it was still holding its curves, its musculature, and wasn't limp -- but I didn't poke it to make sure. Using the photograph I ID'd it as a Northern Water Snake, Nerodia sipedon, a common Missouri snake, and harmless. Approximately 16 inches long, this one must have been young.

You can see that the water here was about an inch deep, and and because of the heat and drought, the water left in the creek had warmed and thickened. I suppose the snake was trying to keep cool -- it is cold-blooded, after all --but I also wondered if I was wrong and it was dead, and the long, long drought that kept closing in, drying the creek down to nothing -- had driven it to suicide.