Walking. Anybody Can Do This. (Not)

2:30 a.m., I’m wide awake, ready to start the day. Hello Day!

It’s a few hours before I set off on the 55th consecutive day of a five-mile walk to greet the sunrise at Cove Island Park.

I’m anxious to see what’s in store for me this morning. And worried that I might sleep through the 4:55 am to 5:15 a.m. peak feeding time for the waterfowl. Normal people set an alarm. I have four gadgets on the night stand next to me ready to jump into action. But for some reason I can’t explain, I don’t. I can’t. A life time of never needing an alarm to get up, I’m not going to start now. I don’t change. And, let’s face it, You don’t either.

4:25 a.m.  I gather up the camera gear. I double check to find the memory card is in its place — the recollection of backtracking 1.5 miles three days ago, getting soaked by a sprinkler system that turned on at 5 a.m., cursing the rest of the way home, and needing to take the car to the park for fear of missing feeding time. All of this is fresh. And it ain’t going to happen today.

I throw the sling around my shoulder. Take a long swig of ice cold water. And I’m out the door.

Photography.  Camera. New hobby thing. Mixing it up a bit.

I’ve watched hundreds of instructional videos on Youtube. Paged through the camera user manual – a lot of damn good this did.  Texted back and forth with a buddy who gave me some tips.

ISO. Shutter speed. Aperture.  Exposure Compensation. Continuous tracking. EVF. LCD. Autofocus. Manual Focus. Single Point. Zone. Wide Angle. Tracking. Single shot. Burst. Still. Video.  Good God. My Head is spinning.

Then add to the soup, small (very) buttons. A small, sensitive touchscreen. Clumsy, large hands. Not yet arthritic, thank God, not yet anyway, something to look forward to. Throw in farsightedness, and you have menus and pop-ups jumping in and out. And blood pressure surging. Jesus, I’m of average intelligence, it just can’t be this hard.

And forget the quality (and breathtaking expense) of the camera equipment, lenses, battery (and back up), and memory cards, there’s so much more to this Photography-thing that was lost on me. [Read more…]

The day broke around me like a cool dream

The day broke around me like a cool dream. Sea; sand; a sky that melts into the sea — a landscape of misty pastels with a look about it being continuously on the point of melting.

~ Angela Carter, from The Bloody Chamber in “The Bloody Chamber And Other Stories” (Vintage Digital; October 31, 2012)


Notes:

  • Photo: DK – Daybreak. 4:58 & 5:00 am. June 17, 2020. 58° F. Wind: 5 mph. Gusts: 8 mph. Cloud Cover: 19%.  Weed Ave, Stamford, CT.
  • Quote via andrasteiax

Running. And, a disturbance of the peace.

 

Long run. Sorry. Not long. This little white lie is triggered by 25 years of muscle memory. Feels good to think it was long, and to say it was long. It wasn’t long. They’re not long anymore. They used to be long. Days of running a 10 miler, no water bottle, no music player, no books on tape, mind on lock, feet on auto forward and go —  used to be —  long time ago —  not anymore. Long gone.

I get done with my run. Not long. 3 miles of stop and go. No traffic. A brisk 42° F.  Shelter-in-Place has humans hunkered down.  The Canadian geese are essential personnel.

Long runs have been supplanted with long hot showers. At ~ 3 minutes, guilt washes down from the shower head, water rushes down the drain. A Waste. Guilt passes. I turn up temperature, steam fills the room. Stiff muscles loosen, tired bones ache, body yearns for a late morning nap.

Temperature has climbed to the mid-50’s.  I step outside. Tree Blossoms. Budding trees. Fresh blades of grass. The morning sun warming.

With the squirrel problem solved in 2016 with high tech bird feeders (Miracle-Man-Made), nature is all in its orderly place in the back yard.  Squirrels and chipmunks feed at ground level from the seed spilling from feeder. No acrobatics, no swinging-from-feeder squirrels guzzling $30/bag organic bird feed.

I turn my attention back to my reading.

I’m distracted by birds which flit in and out of the yard. This morning, it’s Finches, canary yellow. 3 or 4 at each feeder at a time.

Down below, and around the yard, Mourning doves. Cardinals, male and female. Brown breasted robins.

Bird song fills the air.  The flutter of wings dart to and from the feeders.  All having breakfast, peacefully co-existing.

I stretch my legs. Body stiffening. Back to reading.

A handful of birds remain at the feeders but the birds at ground level are gone. It’s become quiet. Bird song is gone.

The three feeders front a 3-foot high rock wall which fronts the fence along the lot line.

There’s a fracas below, in what appears to be squirrel vs. squirrel quarrel, each protecting their feeding grounds.

The fracas continues. This time with a squeal. Not squirrel or chipmunk like.

Out of the rock wall, a rat, mid-sized, darts out to feed.

Out of the rock wall, another rat, mid sized, darts out to feed.

Out of the rock wall, a third rat, mid sized darts out to feed.

And then, out of the rock wall, a chubby, likely pregnant rat, 6 inches long excluding tail, darts out to join her family.

Chubby charges at the birds below the feeders clearing the way for her family.

Rat infestation.  Rats, disturbing the peace. Rats, a mere 30 feet from the house, planning to seek shelter next winter in the warmth of our basement.

I close the Kindle app. I was finishing an essay on “The Emotional Benefits of Getting Older” – and it’s punch line: “People at older ages had more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions, and their emotional experiences were more consistent.” But which age group was more emotionally solid and showed better mastery of their urges? “The people who experience the most emotional instability are in their 20s,” he said, a volatility that gradually declines with every decade.”

Once again, DK is off the page and well beyond the tail end of the statistical curve.

Man-child. Old-Man-Child.

F-*king Rats have got to go. Now.

I move the cursor into the Google Search bar, and type R-A-T T-R-A-P-S in Amazon Search Bar.

2 days shipping.

Backyard needs to be restored to order, Now.


Notes: Thank you Susan for video

TGIF: “The” Highlight of This Week.

An email from our friend Sawsan with the subject heading that caught the eye:

“Your Little Friends.”

Followed by this lead-in:

“I was at a trinket store downtown. The owner had just opened the door to start the day and they stormed in.”

Followed by her comment:

“David, I was standing outside looking in. The store doesn’t open for another 15 minutes. I was about to walk away and the owner showed up. She insisted that I come in. We went in, she closed the door behind her. She started telling me the story of her life and the store. I looked outside, THEY WERE ALL THERE.
About 50 of them.

They’ve been coming for years, she said.

And you want believe this!!!
She said that every day, 7 days a week, minutes before closing time, they all quietly fly out. Magic.

Where you at?

Where You At?

Trace the water you drink from precipitation to tap.

How many days till the moon is full?…

From what direction do winter storms generally come in your region?

Name five grasses in your area.

Name five resident and five migratory birds…

Were the stars out last night?

From where you are reading this, point north.

~ Jenny Offill, Weather: A Novel (Knopf, February 11, 2020)


Notes:

  • Inspired by: “As it is, we are merely bolting our lives—gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in—because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to use more simple than simple being. If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched, and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering. Is it surprising that an existence so experienced seems so empty and bare that its hunger for an infinite future is insatiable?” ~ Alan Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (Published August 28th 1989 by Vintage, first published 1966) (via noosphe.re)
  • Illustration by Ariduka55 (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Above us. Now.

The birds are tracked by sophisticated radar set up along the migratory routes all over the country—Eilat, Jerusalem, Latrun… The Ben Gurion offices are high-tech, dark-windowed. Banks of computers, radios, phones. A team of experts, trained in aviation and mathematics, tracks the patterns of flight: the size of the flocks, their pathways, their shape, their velocity, their height, their projected behavior in weather patterns, their possible response to crosswinds, siroccos, storms. Operators create algorithms and send out emergency warnings to the controllers and to the commercial airlines.

Another hotline is dedicated to the Air Force. Starlings at 1,000 feet north of Gaza Harbor, 31.52583°N, 34.43056°E. Forty-two thousand sandhill cranes roughly 750 feet over southern edge of Red Sea, 20.2802°N, 38.5126°E. Unusual flock movement east of Akko, Coast Guard caution, storm pending. Projected flock, Canada geese, east of Ben Gurion at 0200 hours, exact coordinates TBD. Pair of pharaoh eagle-owls reported in trees near helicopter landing pad B, south Hebron, 31.3200°N, 35.0542°E.

The ornithologists are busiest in autumn and spring when the large migrations are in full flow: at times their screens look like Rorschach tests.

~ Colum McCann, Apeirogon: A Novel (Random House, February 25, 2020)


Photo: Sandhill Cranes by journey ej

Lightly Child, Lightly


Notes:

  • Source: Famousfishathletecookie (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this?

North American songbirds have been shrinking steadily in size over the past 40 years, according to scientists who measured tens of thousands of the feathered creatures from dozens of different species and attributed the changes to rising temperatures.

As the birds’ bodies got smaller, their wings gradually got longer, the scientists said in a paper published Wednesday in the journal Ecology Letters. The longer wings, the researchers said, may help offset the loss of body mass so the birds can fly efficiently on their long migrations. The changes were too small to be apparent to the naked eye, the scientists said, amounting to a gram or so in weight per bird and a few millimeters change in individual wing length…

Migrating birds in the modern world face many hazards affecting their growth and survival, from vanishing nesting grounds, dwindling food sources and pesticide use, to domestic cats, which kill up to 3 billion birds annually. Collisions with high-rise buildings kill another 600 million or so migrating birds every year.

~ Robert Lee Hotz, from “Songbirds Are Shrinking in Size, Study Finds. Scientists pin drop-off in size of North American songbirds on rising temperatures” (wsj.com, Dec 5, 2019)


Notes:

Post inspired by: “At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this? / And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow all this?”  by Ilya Kaminsky, from “A City Like a Guillotine Shivers on Its Way to the Neck,” Deaf Republic

And further inspired by: “But there’s something undoing about the dying light of mid-afternoon. In that empty old house on Marlborough Road all that had stitched me into this life came undone and I couldn’t escape the feeling that folded against my back were wings that had failed to open. ~ Niall Williams, “This Is Happiness” (Bloomsbury Publishing; December 3, 2019)

We love birds!

Rita McMahon found a pigeon with a broken leg on her deck in New York City’s upper west side. The pigeon was otherwise quite fortunate. McMahon would go on to cofound the Wild Bird Fund, which cares for some 3,500 sick and injured birds every year. A veterinarian amputated the pigeon’s leg; while it recovered, it would rest on a cushion in McMahon’s apartment window. On the other side stood her mate, day after day, keeping her company until she was released and the couple rejoined.

“They were devoted to each other,” says McMahon, who also recalled how one of her volunteers once found a broken-winged robin in a depression in a snow bank, his mate nearby. The volunteer picked up the injured bird and put him in a bag for transport to the hospital. With little fuss she then gathered the mate—which was quite unusual, as healthy wild birds are uniformly skittish. “I understand being able to pick up a broken-winged robin easily, but not one who’s intact,” MacMahon says. At the hospital, they learned that the break wasn’t fresh. The robin was in surprisingly good health. His mate, believes MacMahon, had been taking food to him on the snowbank, “and decided to stay with her man.” …

Apparent grieving exists in the avian world, most notably among greylag geese, in whom individuals who’ve lost a partner display the classical symptoms of human depression: listlessness, a loss of appetite, lethargy lasting for weeks or even months. The same applies to pigeons. On Pigeon Talk, a website of pigeon-breeding hobbyists, anecdotes abound of birds sinking into a funk after losing their mates, and sometimes refusing to take another mate for up to a year afterward—no small time for a species that typically lives for less than a decade.

One of the most moving stories involves mourning doves. After a dove was eaten by a hawk in the backyard of a forum member called TheSnipes, the mate stood beside the body for weeks. “I finally couldn’t stand to watch it any more and picked up every feather and trace of remains that was left there and got rid of it,” wrote TheSnipes. “The mate continued to keep a vigil at that spot though, for many months, all through the spring and summer.” …

Their example stayed with me, though, and now colors the way I think of my winged neighbors. Ubiquitous and unappreciated, typically ignored or regarded as dirty, annoying pests, pigeons mean something else to me now. Perched on building ledges, chasing scraps of food, taking to the skies at sunset: Each one is a reminder that love is all around us.

~ Brandon Keim, from “What Pigeons Teach Us About Love”


Thank you Susan.

Lightly child, lightly


Often I imagine the earth
through the eyes of the atoms we’re made of—
atoms, peculiar
atoms everywhere—
no me, no you, no opinions,
no beginning, no middle, no end,
soaring together like those
ancient Chinese birds
hatched miraculously with only one wing,
helping each other fly home.

~ Dan Gerber, “Often I Imagine the Earth” in Sailing through Cassiopeia


Notes:

  • Poem – thank you The Hammock Papers.  Photo: Curtis Moffat Study, Woman Sleeping (CA. 1920) via see more
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”
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