The squirrels showed up first,
Chittering and bushy tailed
Scrambling for acorns they’d hide
But never find again.
A flash of red announced a cardinal
Who watched warily as one
Determined squirrel chose to dig
Too close for his comfort.
Another cardinal followed,
Then a blue jay asserted himself
Into the mix, loudly searching for tidbits
Among the oak leaves littering the yard.
Even a lizard crept along the red bricks
Hoping to go unnoticed,
But I spied him, as did the cat.
All while gentle ripples stirred the lake
Dry leaves rustled in the wind, and
An unseen songbird trilled an apology.
He must’ve been late to the party.
On Sunday Studly Doright and I drove south for about three hours to attend a Celebration of Life service for a man I’d never met, and who Studly only knew superficially through business contacts. We went more to support friends who’d known the man well than for any other reason.
The service was held at Silver Springs State Park near Ocala. I’d visited the park a decade or more ago and it’s lovelier than I remembered. When we entered the park a family member of the deceased directed us down a winding path to a rustic pagoda with raised seating and a view of cypress trees rising out of the swamp. The October sun filtering through the surrounding foliage created the most perfect spot on earth that day. We found our friends and sat together as the service began.
From the photos around the pagoda one quickly surmised that the man being honored had been rather remarkable. There were photos of him at the summits of several major peaks including the Matterhorn. He’d also been a deep sea diver and an astronomer. I wished I’d had the opportunity to have met him.
Then one of the pastors officiating the service spoke about the deceased saying he’d disliked Democrats and hated lawyers, and that if the man could speak from the grave he’d tell us to never vote for a Democrat. A smattering of laughter accompanied by a few groans resulted from his statement. I looked at Studly and he put his hand on my arm, most likely to keep me from saying something I’d regret. I’m no idiot, but I must say words bubbled in my mind.
The second pastor then went on to tell us how the deceased had loved the environment and sought God in all the faces of nature. But he’d hated Democrats and lawyers. Now, I’d say the dearly departed thought he was looking for God, but quite honestly never really cared about the meaning of God.
Listen, when I die, I don’t want any mention of politics. Such talk doesn’t belong at a funeral. I wouldn’t mind being eulogized in the sacred forest of Silver Springs State Park, though. Surely the trees will cleanse the air of any negativity.
The beholder’s eye
Finds beauty in symmetry
Strength in the pattern
Yearn for immortality
What secret patterns
Affect the caterpillar
Who sprouts wings and flies?
Winds have bowed him awkwardly,
Casting him askew to the others.
Maybe, though, he’s just leavesdropping,
Inserting himself into the discussion between
The sweet magnolia and the mighty oak
Across the way, shaking boughs and
Whispering poetry, listening for the owl.
Maybe he’s yearning for the lake,
Hoping for a cool breeze and a sip of water,
Or perhaps, like you, he’s just weary and
Seeks the loving arms of a companion.
Who am I to judge this leaning tree?
I’ve leaned too, in my day, and
Will again in the days to come.
Yesterday my cat, Scout, and I watched a hawk fly all around our backyard here at Doright Manor, lighting briefly on a lamppost before flying dramatically to the ground. He poked around in the grass for a minute or two before doing this:
I told Scout it looked like he was initiating a mating ritual. Every now and again he’d stop his dance and look directly at me, as if to say, “Hey, good looking….”
Scout yawned and said, “I’m almost certain that hawks perform an elaborate aerial mating ritual in place of a dance. And, honestly, you’re not his type.”
The leading edge would
Have us jumping at each flash
Of tensile lightning
Flinching at thunder
Cowering ‘neath the covers
Yearning for a pause
Rumbles grow distant
Downpour tapers to sprinkles
This storm fades away
(Found all the photos on Pinterest)
I’m always fascinated by the flow and rhythm of a storm–The light and sound parade that precedes the rainfall, the tapering off of rain followed by an encore of the opening chorus. I get chills when I get to be a witness to the greatest concert on earth.
During an intermission of the storm I’m watching a small turtle make its way across my yard.
Looks like he/she has an appointment.
I do not hate snakes. That being said, I’d just as soon not encounter a venomous one in close proximity to my home, as I did one day last week.
The night following the encounter that cottonmouth occupied my dreams every time I closed my eyes to sleep. In my waking hours I mentally retraced the steps I took prior to noticing his presence next to the garage and realized I’d likely come within inches of stepping on him. It was a sobering thought.
I’ve changed some of my habits after my snake experience, and I thought the lessons learned might be worth sharing. If nothing else, they’ll help me solidify what I gained from the experience.
- Don’t walk and read simultaneously. The mail can wait to be sorted once you’re in the house. What a sad tale it might’ve been if I’d stepped on a viper while perusing a Talbots mailer.
- Not all bad guys give a warning. If my snake friend had been a rattlesnake, chances are I’d have been warned off from the start. This guy lay silently, coiled and waiting for some clueless broad walking and reading a Talbots catalog to blunder into its sharp fangs.
- Scan your surroundings. There’s a mnemonic acronym motorcyclists use to help avoid accidents–SIPDE. That stands for Scan (keep your eyes moving), Identify (note possible hazards), Predict (make an educated guess as to what the hazard might do), Decide (plan a course of action), and Execute (make it happen).
- Please note that we Executed the snake. That’ll teach him.
- Don’t trust your eyes, but scan anyway. He was camouflaged fairly well in his driveway matching color coordinated way. Look twice, then look again.
- Always carry a bazooka. (Note to self: buy a bazooka.)
- Don’t assume a snake is asleep just because it doesn’t respond to outside stimuli. It’s probably playing possum in hopes that you’ll be lulled into complacency. Or that you’re admiring a skirt in a fashion catalog.
I’m sure there are other lessons to be gained from my interaction with the snake, but thinking about it too much gives me the heebie jeebies.
(I found the photo directly above on twitter in order to show off the cottonmouth’s cotton mouth.)
This guy was poised next to my side of the garage when I came home to Doright Manor from having lunch with a friend on Thursday.
I’d walked past him probably four or five times as I carried groceries into the house. As I hefted the last of the groceries, a 30 lb. container of cat litter, out of the trunk I happened to see him, after which I dropped the litter on my foot while screaming something unintelligible and most likely profane.
I think we’ll call this one, “Holy Effing Sh*t! It’s a Water Moccasin!”
Studly Doright came home and took care of the problem. I could have, but why take the chance of wounding his ego? Right? 😳😳😳
Our elder cat, Scout, and I were lounging on the back porch yesterday afternoon having a heart to heart talk about the birds and the bees. Scout has been spayed, so it wasn’t THAT kind of talk. Instead, we were captivated by the appearance of what I believe to be a barred owl that makes a showing at Doright Manor every evening around 5 p.m.
It looks a great deal like the owl found on the Audubon Society’s page:
I told Scout that she wasn’t to try to make friends with the owl, as such an attempt wouldn’t end well for her. She assured me that she wouldn’t leave the safety of our screened-in porch, but she hesitated to vouch for her younger “sister,” Patches, saying something along the lines of, “The idiot will most likely be shoved, I mean, might accidentally run right out the door and into the grasping claws of that owl.”
There’s no love lost between my felines.
Within seconds of our conversation we heard a ruckus coming from the lake.
To me it sounded as if a predator had absconded with one of the offspring of our pair of nesting egrets. Ours aren’t as large as those pictured below, and would make a tasty snack for an alligator or even a turtle, but from the sound of the commotion something swooped down from the sky and alarmed our great egrets.
Scout turned to me and in all seriousness said, “Gee, I hope that was, I mean, wasn’t Patches.”
Clouds gathered today
Promised rain, then they scattered
Vandals on the lam
Gardeners’ hopes dashed
As wisteria wilted
And daisies declined
From the clearing azure sky
Only empty vows
(All photos found on Pinterest.)