Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Nests and Stuff

Yellow Chat sighting, he looks fit and well, his eyebrows magnificent, and damn right he's ready for his high noon performance. Our Mockingbird pair are intensely in love, when he's not following her around and cooing in a sometimes sickly way he's doing his best to locate nest sites, I guess in the vernacular "they look cute together." Tree Swallows are debating the merits of a relocated nest box. Cowbirds have found the Robin nest. A Phoebe, bright in dark places, has eggs to brood, she's stubborn as a rock in the rafters which Barn Swallows once owned.

There's a whole thing with Matron Turkeys wandering the hay field hunting down their nest site so they can lay in plenty of time to contribute their eggs and sometimes themselves to hay making, their nestlings to the diet of Barred Owls or play-toys for a cat. I could go on about the Goldfinch dressed in his best yellow, the blues of the Boy Bluebirds, the flick of a Least Flycatcher's tail, the folly of Doves in the barn, and the white feather from what has to be a Barn Owl, but that would be soppy, it would be wandering lonely as a supercilious cloud, a host of golden Daffodils, when yes indeed I belong to this.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Fit to Print

John Walking Stewart once decided to leave London following a pamphlet he'd written on the subject of a future queen. If I recall he'd taken a position on the future King of England's choice of wife and what with one thing and another his pamphlet had raised a suspicion in the authorities that Stewart could well have been a dangerous radical, well worth keeping an eye on. In those days pamphlet writing was more like an opinion page in a newspaper or on electronic devices where this or that pompous ass gets paid or volunteers to interpret the news of the day for those of us who might be unable or are unwilling to form an opinion of our own. Generally in those days pamphleteers had to pay the costs of printing their pamphlets. Over time the more recognizable newspapers emerged from bright sparks in the printing business who had decided to make their fortune by combining advertizing, pamphleteering and actual news, all of it wrapped around the more censorious instincts of the authorities into a source of constant entertainment as well as a political weapon.

In those days too, an English King's choice of life mate was more about Genetics, European Politics and Religion than it was about glass slippers and swooning. Stewart wasn't big on the existence of God or monarchies yet he found it impossible to remain silent on the revelation that a future king of England had secretly married a Roman Catholic widow. It was marriage declared legitimate by the Pope but the line of succession laws for the English Royals declared that anyone marrying a Catholic couldn't be king. The marriage was finally declared invalid because apparently George III, who was by then totally insane, hadn't given permission. In the end, so that he could be King, George III's eldest son married a solid, properly born daughter of a German Duke.  If I recall, after being followed around by agents of the state, Stewart decided to get out of town, visit Lapland for a couple of years until the whole thing blew over.

Sunday, April 22, 2018


Not that it matters any longer, but a Council is deliberative body that discusses then decides stuff, a Counsel is a source of advice and a Consul is a nation's representative. The congress is supposed to be a Council. Robert Swan Mueller III is a Counsel. And Japan has a Consul in Nashville. One way to remember it goes this way: if you want advice and a broader opinion you don't just make it up as you go along, you consult a counsel, if you want to quarrel and get grumpy you go to a Council and if you want a visa to visit a foreign land you go to a Consul.

 The other thing to recall is that your correspondent is an appalling speller. Grey, Gray, traveler, traveller, whether, weather, seal, ceil, and it just goes on into the wild blue yonder of i before e except after c and whole bunch of things that have been forced upon us by those obsessed by precision in the use of a shared written language. And then there's the idea that not being able to spell is symptomatic of careless, ill discipline mental habits characteristic of those in our number who might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer. Oddly in the arena of Counsels and Consuls precision is advantageous. But when it comes to Councils it's more like a blood sport where pretty much anything goes.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Olden Days

Like so many things I can't remember with any kind of clarity where I might have been in the year 1974, let alone what I might have been doing on August 9th of that year when President Nixon did the sensible thing, put his country out of its misery, he resigned, disappeared into a comfortable retirement, leaving a whole bunch of people to face jail time.  After much thought, I suspect that in 1974 I could have been doing shift work for Parcel Department of the Royal Mail which was located on the west end of the City of Cardiff in South Wales. It's also possible that on August 9th of that year I was on the night shift, working the dock, which was a nice job because you could smoke cigarettes out there.

We were a fairly loose leaf collective, none of us had qualified for the prized role of door to door mail delivery and had been shunted into the recently automated Parcel Department where we essentially just put parcels into mail sacks. Our only important skill was tying the correct label onto the correct mail bag. Those of us who had also failed to master labeling were consigned to the dock where we loaded and unloaded well labeled mail bags. What I do remember with intense clarity, out there in the fresh air, an older dock worker suddenly stopped and said, "Listen." And we all listened to a distant Nightingale serenade a warm night until our supervisor turned up.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Signs of Spring

Interesting frost on an icy breeze this morning and a Boy Humming Bird sighting. Could be a rogue Humming Bird, of course. One that's gone completely to the banana and is drifting through a life dedicated to one day maybe nesting on Baffin Island. Possibly has a family line which for generations has nested in a suburb of Montreal, and he's just very anxious to catch up on the gossip. And there's always a chance he might actually know what he's doing.

Me, as someone who was once viciously harassed by a swarm of young Humming Birds while I was doing the right thing by making pectin free jam, I'm not that fond of them. Close-up they have a very sharp pointed beak and a crazed look in their killer instinct eyes, kind of like a giant Mosquito. No doubt about it their species has been around much longer than the species I have the misfortune to belong to, so they've got that sort of wisdom going for them.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Local Gossip

There'll be no Peaches this summer, their blossoms have gone to the cold. Odds are against the Asian Pear. There's a slight chance of a few Soft Pears if the Fox Squirrel doesn't get them first. The Potato are struggling. But the first Compost Pile of the year has achieved 80 Fahrenheit and rising, which is exciting because in the morning, following tonight's frost, I'll be able to jiggle the pile's surface a little, see steam and maybe just perch on top of it for a bit.

Meanwhile I have given consideration to selling my soul to the devil in exchange for an Asparagus Bed in which weeds do not grow. There's a weed in the Asparagus that I've not seen for years, it's what some call Nursery Bane, my own name for it sounds like waking up in the morning to discover your left hand is missing. I've declared Fake News on the Artist's suggestion that these weeds come from the Compost Piles, it's far too obvious to me they arrived in the toe nails of Voles.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Mole

The main problem with Moles is that a person rarely gets to see one. They lurk around under the ground, they rip through carefully prepared earth, wreack havoc with the more tender roots, they devour our comrades the worms, they wreck the appearance of the short grass, and every now and then a gardener spots a little tickle in the corner of an eye and you know deep down in your soul there's a Mole moving through the ground, polishing the walls of its tunnel.

Some might come up with something like "how cute," then go on to invest time in attempting to understand the Mole, it's habits, it's life style and its life cycle. Others just see blood, they grab the shovel and proceed to beat the ground as though suddenly possessed by demons. Mostly the results of such a blood thirsty reaction is considerable damage to something like a neatly planted row of Chard. But sometimes there's a victim, it's about the size of a slipper, it has huge paws, a friendly snout, a little tail and very, very soft fur.