May 16, 2004

Yesterday was a day of long walking, of covering mouth and nose until the ubiquitous wind allowed some small part of the construction dust to precipitate out of the air, of dodging deep mudholes left by rain and hail and frost and the first twisting air funnel of the season. A pair of late geese vee'd north, toward a more extensive wetland than the nearby bog. An eagle made large spirals on the leftover thermals, low, almost directly over my head. Its presence might explain why I saw no rabbits, that day. The construction explains why I have not seen any deer since its initiation.

The area where I live, still, remains as close to wild as something being slowly conquered by the urban can be. Construction of box store malls works its way between scrub forest and wetland and the domineering scent of a pig farm's siloes. Construction of demi-rural condominiums names itself proudly for the trees that were chopped to allow its existence. A sign goes up, a few miles further into the city's creeping edges: seems a wild turkey with no survival sense has taken up residence in the area, with semi-frequent wanderings into the road. It says something about that part of my social environment that this causes traffic to stop and snarl up. I have been on buses where the driver has jumped off to wave the turkey off the road.

Insects like me. The blood banks won't accept it, but biting insects seem to get along with my blood just fine. Any given swarm will tend to move in my general direction, and since I don't kill if I can possibly avoid it (although living in this world of itself is of a killing nature), and since I prefer not to calmly watch the mosquito land, and insert its proboscis, and begin drinking: this frequently results in an interesting dance as I try to wave away gnats and mosquitoes and biting flies before they have that chance to land. It was the way I discovered when still very young that, left to themselves, not all living things mean one well. Stinging insects, strong mutual respect there, such that I have only been stung twice in my life: but that time there was a horsefly amid the wasps. I chose to stand still -- and the horsefly chose to land on my bare skin.

This may explain some part of why I don't find it particularly relaxing to take a book outside to read; or indeed why I enjoy the brisk, biting winds so much more than the lazy summer days. I love the changeability of weather. Some would say that I am obsessed with the watching of weather. There are those who take my personal appreciation of snow and storm and wind as something of a personal addendum to the existing torture of cold and wet: and yet I won't deny that there can be times that these are better appreciated from within a climate-tempering shelter. Roses against the glass have their place, but so do gorse bushes and dandelions, outside.

How we would appreciate those valuable flowers, giving us beauty and food and herbal treatment alike, were they but rare and difficult to grow!

Smile of the day:

A farmer purchased an old, run-down, abandoned farm with plans to turn it into a thriving enterprise. The fields were grown over with weeds, the farmhouse was falling apart, and the fences were broken down. During his first day of work, the town preacher stops by to bless the man's work, saying, "May you and God work together to make this the farm of your dreams!"

A few months later, the preacher stops by again to call on the farmer. Lo and behold, it is a completely different place. The farm house is completely rebuilt and in excellent condition, there are plenty of cattle and other livestock happily munching on feed in well-fenced pens, and the fields are filled with crops planted
in neat rows. "Amazing!" the preacher says. "Look what God and you have accomplished together!"

"Yes, reverend," says the farmer -- "but remember what the farm was like when God was working it alone."

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