Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Telephones - Cellphones

Naomi and I, after dinner, stand around the kitchen island discussing how to make contact with our teenage grandchildren: Email - they almost never open their account; Call on the phone - they don't answer and their voice mail is full and they never check it anyway; Text - we live too far off the grid for our cellphones to work.
During our excursions out into the 'grid' we do find 'Texting' often elicits a response. I find myself wondering out of frustration - do young people even think of using phones for voice. Even the word Telephone seems quaint and out-of-date. It is now 'smartphone' or 'cell phone'. I find myself feeling like a hopeless hick every time I say telephone - sort of like dropping the 'g' on words endin' in ing. The word telephone seems as dated as 'rotary dial'. I don't begrudge the changes in the world. I just wish I could keep up without having to work on it. I feel like a play actor in a foreign culture where I have to keep studying new scripts handed out to me by forces beyond my control and I'm struggling to keep up.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Woodcock Romance

A couple of evenings ago I heard my first 'Peent' of the season. That's not to say that it was the first of the season, but it was the first I heard. Well after sunset, as the twilight gathers in the early Spring, even while there is still significant snow on the ground, you can hear this persistent penetrating, rasping with some high pitches puncturing through the rasp - 'peent'. While it is making this sound the Woodcock is slowly walking around a little clearing in the tall grasses or alders somewhere near a stream with its body gently bobbing as it makes each 'peent'. It looks like a little wind up toy. It is also very hard to see and you have to be still and very observant. Fortunately, the animal is not too shy and allows a quite close approach, if you exercise a modicum of caution. But this is not the interesting part.
After a short time marching around 'peenting', the bird launches itself pretty much straight up in the air like an overgrown grasshopper, or a small fluttering helicopter with its rotors not exactly balanced. It goes up pretty much out of sight to all but the keenest eye on the clearest evening making quite a sound as it does so. Then in a few moments you hear the actual mating song and then the bird will drop in a zig-zag fluttering manner like a falling leaf and land on the ground right next to where it took off. If you are really careful, you can sort of sneak up on the launching and landing place and wind up with the bird almost landing on top of you in its return flight. Here is a sound recording of the whole performance. And here is a youtube of the flight under the lighting conditions that you might encounter.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Right Now!

I sit - wood fire cozy - in my favorite chair
Looking out at a snow buried back yard.

Old gray snow
Littered with pine needles, small branches, leaves -
All the detritus of Winter's storms.

Picnic table upside down
Leaning against a boulder
Keeping punky feet dry.
Maybe one more season?

Hammock frame's splayed posts
Sticking up from the snow.

Blue tarp grasping the woodpile
Flappin' in the wind.

Pair of Ravens cruising overhead,
Hoping melting snow reveals some missed morsel -
An earlier victim of Winter's trials.