Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Day We've Waited For

Sunday, February 20, was the most blessed day of the year, the one I hope and hope for, the day the first crocuses bloomed-- right in my yard beneath the hickory tree. Here they are! A freakishly warm day, about 70 degrees. Nobody complained! And even better, it was the first day of the calendar year that I heard spring peepers, the world's most wonderful sound. And even better, a pair of bluebirds were claiming the bluebird house in the meadow. That is wealth!

Somebody asked me what was the most beautiful sentence in the English language and I thought a while about the sentence that made me happiest, and then quoted them from a cookbook: "While the second batch is baking, frost the first batch."

Well, that's culture, and here's nature. God am I happy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Popcorn at the Bank

Meet Donna, the Popcorn Lady at Rockwood Bank. Every Friday she sets up her street-vendor-style popcorn machine in the vestibule and makes popcorn, scoops it into little Rockwood Bank bags, and people eat it up because it's divine. I've been eatin' her popcorn and passin' her on my way in and out for 10 years and finally said hello, what's your name? "Donna." How long have you been doing this? "Oh, a long time," she said. I said, I'm amazed that a bank serves popcorn on Fridays, banks don't do that in Wisconsin. She said, "A lot of banks are catching on and doing it now, except they have cookies. Popcorn's better for you."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

As The Sun Slowly Sinks into the Mud. . .

I aint complaining! It's the January thaw about three weeks late; 74 degrees today. Holy to hear the rush of water through the property's waterfalls Number 1, 2, and 3 (there are five). Yesterday in the woods, the snow parted to reveal patches of chives on a north-facing slope. To me they are the second real sign of spring. So today, slipping and sliding in inch-deep mud, I harvested some chives and scissored them into a bowl of carrot soup dolloped with yogurt and eaten with homemade rye bread.

Even better news: A bluebird pair has inspected and approved my bluebird box. I saw them this morning for the first time and my heart became a big bouquet of roses.

And at 5:30 p.m., as I turned away from photographing this mango-colored sunset, I saw in the east a big beautiful pearly full moon. What a wonderful world.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

When Birds Aren't Pretty

Squawk! Scuffle! This morning I saw my homie the Downy Woodpecker and the visiting migrant, the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, sparring and threatening each other on the suet cage. Not one minute later, when the Yellow-Belly was pecking at the suet, came a Starling, his shawl still peppered with white stars; he and his big buddies all wanted some suet. Flapping his wings scared off the smaller Yellow-Belly. Meanwhile, Hairy and Downy woodpeckers clung to trees at a safe distance, and songbirds, such as Blue Jays and cardinals, and a row of Starlings, waited, clinging to branches...a perfect lunch counter for the Red-Tailed hawk perched on a cedar branch high above the feeder just waitin' to snatch somebody (he likes pigeons).

Then came the biggest woodpecker of all, the spectacular crow-sized Pileated, king of the birds around here, and everybody let him have as much suet as he liked. As soon as he was gone, the fighting and sparring began again, and I wondered (exasperated, like a parent) if I shouldn't just take the suet indoors until they learned to stop fighting and share.

P.S. I replaced suet for a few days with a chunk of shortening, an ingredient in many "make your own suet" recipes. Birds no matter how cold or greedy did not like it at all.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Closing His Estate

I am/was Demetrius' executor, or personal representative, and yesterday went to the bank to have the notary stamp the papers that closed his estate and bequeathed me what was left in his account after his doctors and attorneys were paid. If you can choose, don't be anybody's executor or personal rep. This small estate took two years to close and its file of legal papers is two inches thick.

Oddly I was not happy to get this out of the way. My eyes filled. (I berated myself, "Don't cry in front of a notary!") Because the involvement with my friend of ten years is now truly over. When we met he was 49 and things had happened to him that I will never know. For two and a half years he underwent gruesome tests and treatments, having to realize that his early death was inevitable and largely his own fault and he couldn't do s... about it except rage and yell. In a fury he informed me, "Dying is NOT FUN!"

But I'm inclined now to quote to myself James Baldwin: "Thou knowest this man's fall; but thou knowest not his wrassling."

And now I have the money, which is soulless, without memory, which will never write, have a name, or be angry, and it's very strange to have it not having anyone to thank.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I'm My Mother's Valentine

"For You, Daughter," says my mother's Valentine, which I received today. On the front it's got ten hearts, each pierced by/giving birth to a sturdy rainbow; the words "For You, Daughter," are in script type and silver foil. She'd phoned me to say it was coming, and added, "Just because I sent you a Valentine doesn't mean you have to send ME one."

Printed inside: "Valentine's Day/begins in the heart.../so every thought of you/ Makes it seem/ like Valentine's Day/ each day the whole year through. Happy Valentine's Day with Love Always"

Now I know I'm gettin' old because this chokes me up. There was a time when the word "family" made me sick to my stomach and I couldn't get away fast enough. It's more than thirty years ago now that I left home, went to school, got married, lived in the city, got single, moved here to the cabin. The only person still sending me Valentines is my mother.

Dear Mom, of COURSE I will get and send you a Valentine. Mom is now 76. Hard to believe, my mother, whose cool and smooth powdered cheeks and lilac perfume I remember from when I was very small and she was in her 20s -- now nearing 80. But she gives as good as she gets; when I fly down to visit she treats me like I am 9. Guess that's love.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Follow the Game Trail

One day a couple with a young son came over, and the boy, preferring to be known as "J.T.", had a GameBoy with him and barely lifted his eyes from it to say hello, and was directed into a corner where he could be entirely absorbed in it. The couple went for a walk, leaving me to entertain J.T., and I chatted boringly as adults tend to do, and then I mentioned the game trails. He perked up at the word. "Game trails?" "I said, "By 'game' I mean animals," and I lost his attention at once.

Snow makes the game trails more visible, and I get the urge to follow in this case the deer tracks, and see where they lead, here into the cedar forest. All animals (except man) take the path of least resistance. Beautiful walk through here, following the path of deer who sidestepped fallen trees, backtracked, and I liked imagining I was a deer, but prefer to be me who sleeps in a heated house.