LOCAL VIEW –Moody Monday–

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Sometimes the weekend is too short. I’m not ready for the sheer inanity of my fellow man when Monday rolls around.

I’ve been in an on-line discussion with someone about sea-ice. It has been frustrating because he or she will not talk about the things my eyes can see and that I can point to, but instead resorts to invisible things sensed by satellites, such as “mass-balance.” Finally I gave up trying to show what eyes can see, and basically stated, “Be that way, if you want.” I thought that would be the end of it, but this morning I got this lovely note:

“Caleb, you should be aware by know that the Heartland institute support whatever fake science industry pays them to support. This includes lobbying and generating doubt against regulations on CO2 emissions, ozone-destroying chemicals, second-hand-smoke, endangered species etc. They are part of the paid anti-science forces in the US. You are truly living in a conservative bubble if you are not aware of this. And Fred Singer’s past? For-hire fake scientist…shameful stuff.
I know this won’t be published, I just hope you read this and reflect a bit what kind of forces you are dealing with and endorse.”

Great. I haven’t even had my first coffee.

Anyway, I am reflecting on what kind of forces I am dealing with (if not endorsing.) It made me pout a bit. After all, I am only pointing out what my eyes can see, and discover I am a bad-guy, part of “anti-science forces”. Me!  And I’m such a nice old fossil.

Then, when driving the little children to kindergarten, I discover this lovely object has been parked at the entrance of the high school.

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I think the point of this is to stress the gravity of reckless driving to the high school seniors, who tend to go wild at the time of graduation. However, as is often the case with alarmists focusing on worst-case-scenarios, it immediately backfired. Someone was gawking at the appalling wreck, and promptly went off the road, not fifty yards away.

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Sometimes human efforts look particularly lame and ineffectual, and I want to stop the world and get off. Funny how often this happens on Mondays.

Take my cheeks in Your palms and raise my eyes
To Your hills, for my vision’s gone heavy.
(Too much talk of itches with hearts so dry
They make thirst.)
                          Faith that has never been steady
Knows most about the worst, yet it yammers
On insistent, (Professor of Dullsville),
As my tired heart slowly hammers
A cage for itself.
                                   Even the seagulls will
Rise from their dumps and let beauty soar
But I need Your help; It would be so easy
For You.
                  You open Springtime’s golden store
Of lemon green, make trees lacy and breezy,
And dab dark pines in honey. One glance kills
All woe, so raise my eyes to Your hills.

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LOCAL VIEW –Chameleon Blues–

Yesterday I shared one of the last songs I wrote as a bachelor. This is another, and might have actually been my last. I like it, because it holds the springtime recklessness that is bound to wind you up in all sorts of trouble, such as marriage, but at that time I was convinced I’d never marry, as I was far too old. (37).

Three good stories are involved with the creation of this song. As I’m in the mood to dwell on the past, I hope you’ll forgive me for sharing them.

Back then I was deeply involved in attempting to help my Dad out of a black depression, and not having much luck, for he had lots of valid reasons and was much smarter than I in all ways but hope. He drank heavily and could blast the dickens out of any hope I had, before it was half-way out of my mouth. I refused to give up, but found him a bit of a downer, so I sought relief in a church choir, where I could sing of hope at the top of my lungs without getting blasted for it.

Consequently I found myself associating with two extremely different sorts of people. Someone noticed my pick-up truck pass in one direction with a good-old-boy friend of my father, who was a notorious drunkard and rake, and not long afterwards my pick-up truck passed in the other direction holding a wonderful, elderly lady-of-the-church. That person told me, “You’re nothing but a chameleon.”

I blew a gasket, but quietly and on paper, by writing the following song. I was sick and tired of being misunderstood for having hope.

One person I was misunderstood-by was my elder sister, who was convinced I was a fool to have hope in my father, and deeply concerned that I couldn’t handle his alcoholic abuse. To reassure her that there was a better side to my life I sent her a daily letter for five days, describing my interactions with church ladies and church gentlemen (who were the customers of my landscaping business) and including this song. My sister was so sure my letters would hold nothing but the deranged neurosis of a little brother getting driven mad by an alcoholic Dad that she sent them all back unopened in a manila envelope, with a sisterly note advising me that I was nuts. I blew a second gasket, telephoned her, and told her I would not talk to her for six months, and then we could decide if I had been nuts or not. (I talked to her before the six months passed, to invite her to my wedding.)

It turned out to be a good thing I got that mail back, for I think it was my only copy of the song, and by chance I had an opportunity to perform it before several hundred people a week later. Being a bachelor,  I could just take off when I was fed up, and wound up visiting friends at a gathering of followers of Meher Baba in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. They had a “talent show”, and I felt strangely compelled to sign up and sing my song, and had the unique experience (in my life) of being a “hit.” By the end several hundred people were clapping and singing the final line of each verse.

As I hitchhiked back to New Hampshire (an insane experience which convinced me to never hitchhike again) I was thinking to myself that maybe I was going to be a successful artist after all,  but much to my surprise I went on a blind date and discovered my destiny was to be a successful father, which in my opinion is a far greater thing.

In any case, after that long introduction, here is the song:

       CHAMELEON BLUES

Sometimes I cut my long hair short.
Then some girls call me, “Handsome”,
But soon that hair grows long and then
I look like Charlie Manson.
This superficial stuff don’t fool
The upstairs, big Number-One,
But some folk ’round here call me,
“The Chameleon.”

They also call me “Two Faced”,
But the truth is, I’ve got more,
For I’m friendly with the rich folk
And I’m friendly with the poor.
I’ve heard that God’s in everyone
So I try to love every one.
So I don’t deserve the nickname of
“The Chameleon”.

I love the holy rollers
And the bitter atheist
For every hand has got a palm
Even when it makes a fist.
I try to love my enemies
Even when they scare me with a gun,
So I don’t deserve this nickname of
“The Chameleon”.

Variety’s my spice of life;
It don’t make me a liar:
Weekdays I love my rock and roll;
Sundays I love the choir!
No two snowflakes are alike;
All snowflakes melt beneath the Mighty Sun,
So I don’t deserve this nickname of
“The Chameleon.”

Some people are afraid to change.
They won’t try nothing new.
I don’t know why they are so shy.
There’s lots and lots of things to do
And we all like folk creative,
So we shouldn’t sneer or shun,
For growth involves more changes…
And life involves more changes…
And love involves more changes than
A Chameleon.

To conclude I confess I get hit by this springtime recklessness every year, but my wife has always done a good job of tempering my wildness, until this year. This year she is as bad as, if not worse than than, I am.

Therefore there may be an abrupt end to postings on this blog-site for a while. Not that I intend to stop posting, but at times one is so busy doing new things they have no time to describe it.

 

LOCAL VIEW –Black Fly Blues–

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       BLACK FLY BLUES

Outside the blue sky’s gorgeous
But I’m not going out of doors today.
Outside the sun is golden
But inside is the place I’m going to stay.
I’ll be a couch potato
Until the biting black flies go away.

I’ve heard God’s love’s in everything,
Even in that pesky little fly.
I found the thought impossible,
So I grabbed one, and I looked him in the eye.
He whined, “Hey man! I love you!”
He’d made a point no woodsman can deny.

They love me head down to my toes;
They even love the inside of my nose.
They also love my armpits
(And not too many folk are fond of those.)
They’re part of Love’s creation
Sort of like the thorns upon a rose.

See that flycatcher winging?
He loves black fly. Black fly he’s glad to see.
Hear that songbird singing?
Black fly fuels his springtime rhapsody.
Feel that itch and stinging?
You are part of Love’s ecology.

Outside the blue sky’s gorgeous.
I can’t be cooped up inside any more.
Outside the sun is gorgeous.
I find I’m walking slowly to the door.
Spring is here and it is clear
Love’s inviting me to come explore.

I wrote that song back in May, 1990. It was one of the last songs I wrote as a bachelor, though I didn’t really have a clue what lay 45 days in my future. I had just chanced into a small town church choir, and found myself mingling with young married couples with small children, and they wanted me to sing at a church picnic in June. It was sort of a graduation party for the Sunday School. For me it was great fun, for I’d been through over a decade as a drifter and a loner, and now all of a sudden I had not only a guitarist and bass to back up my vocals, but the young housewives insisted on being accompanying dancers as I sang, and choreographed a thing where all held fly-swatters and waved them like batons as I sang. I doubt it would have been a hit on Broadway, but we weren’t aiming for that. We hit the bulls eye of what we aimed for, which was joy and a good laugh.

To make joy out of black flies is a major achievement. In fact it is something I think might be good to be remembered for. It would make an intriguing tombstone, “He made joy out of black flies.”

However here it is 27 years later, and I’m dealing with a whole new generation of children and black flies. One way I create a safe-house out of doors is to use the old-fashioned idea of a “smudge.” You basically build a hot fire, and then smother it with wet leaves and twigs.

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Black flies don’t like smoke. They don’t even like the exhaust of a lawn mower or leaf-blower, but back in the day I was prone to using un-powered hand tools, and therefore during the spring I was a chain-smoker. I’d say I only inhaled a puff or two of each cigarette, but they were much cheaper back then, and I’d go through 3 packs a day quite often.

Of course, the politics of smoke have gotten rougher. The EPA was doing its best to outlaw smoke altogether, (though they did get caught fudging some of their data, concerning the harm of “particulates.)”

When I was a small child I didn’t use the word “particulates”, but, believe it or not, one of the small girls at the Childcare furrowed her brow, as I built my smudge, and asked me if I was worried about the “particulates”.

What could I say? I just tugged my beard thoughtfully, and said man started using fire a long, long time ago. Neanderthals used fire. Even Homo Erectus used fire, perhaps as much as 1,500,000 years ago. If it was bad for us, it would have killed us by now. In fact, we probably evolved to handle smoke better than laboratory rats do.  So I told her she shouldn’t worry too much about “particulates.” There was probably more bad stuff in indoor air, than by a campfire.

The girl seemed immensely relieved, and ran off to happily play. But it did make me wonder what some environmentalists think they are teaching our children, when they cause the young such worry, and so many bad dreams. Actually the outside is a lovely place, even when the black flies are out.

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LOCAL VIEW –Tipping Point–

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When life gets too quiet we crave some noise.
Noisy life makes us seek quiet again.
We’re always alternating our joys.
We have visions and get busy and then
We feel over-worked, and seek some new toys,
Some new hamster wheel to take a spin in
But it becomes a rat race; with the boys
We go out, and begin with a big grin
But wind up hung-over; each pleasure destroys
Its foundation somehow; each winking allure
Winds us up jaded. Our poor brain employs
Years of research to find peace that is pure
And will last: Perfect balance; perfect poise…
…but then it’s too quiet, so we crave some noise.

My wife and I have decided we don’t feel fulfilled unless we are busy as bees. We cannot seem to sit and sip a drink without brainstorming and coming up with a whole new crop of ideas. Soon our schedule is filled to the brim, and we are happy, until…

There always seems to be one unplanned thing that pops in, and tips us from joy to complete despair. What saves us is our sense of humor. It has happened so many times that we have a private motto (regarding how full our schedule is.) “99% equals joy; 101% equals despair.”

Some people say, “Into each life a little rain must fall.” Yesterday I decided it could also be “Into each life a little weasel will call.”

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Should some weasel enter your life today, remember you are not alone, and keep your sense of humor.

LOCAL VIEW –Yo-yo Spring–

We get one day of glorious sunshine, and everyone walks about with silly smiles pasted across their faces, and then we get six days of cold rain, whereupon there is a lot of sulking. In other words, it’s your typical New Hampshire Spring, culminating with the appearance of the most affectionate creature known to man: black flies. They absolutely adore humans. Humans are mean, and do not return the love. Or perhaps we are more spiritual, and love what cannot be seen: Namely the wind. (Because the wind blows the blasted black flies away.)

The effect of this is to make people manic-depressive. Oops. Sorry. I forgot that scientific studies have refuted the psuedoscience, and proven there is no such thing as manic-depressive.

The effect of this is to make people bipolar. (Scientific studies of bipolarism are not yet finalized).

Even ancient people understood this, with celebrations beginning with April Fools Day and culminating with traipsing about a May Pole. Of course, now we are more modern and wise, so instead we have military parades celebrating the mass murder of people who work hard, succeed, and become rich, and we throw confetti for communists. (We’ve become so much wiser).

To celebrate this madcap  moodiness I was going to write a poem starting, “Spring is like a yo-yo…

Indeed children at our childcare bounce up and down like kangaroos, only they also bounce off walls, which kangaroos avoid as a rule, and therefore I get hopping to move them outside, even if it is pouring. And it has rained a lot. You might think I’d get scolded for cruelty to children, but my wife fortunately subscribes to the old Swedish motto, “There is no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothing”, so I don’t even get in trouble for getting kids out in the mud.

A couple days ago, while watching the human-kangaroos jump dead center into every mud puddle they could find, I began to think the manic moodiness has a reason: It was getting a lot of accumulated poison out of their systems. Likely winter builds up all sorts of crud in bodies, and a good work-out flushes it out of the system. Even the goats, despite their age, were gamboling in the pasture like lambs, and eating lots of greens, which also cleanses the system.

The smaller boys do not gambol; they attack me from every angle, slugging and tackling and head-butting. Or perhaps this too is a gamble, because one of these days I might punch them back, (as a way of enraging the state inspectors and watch-dogs, and consequently getting retired from my childcare business), (Yippie!) but for the time being I just prissily say, “No, no. Naughty, naughty. It is not politically correct to maim your teacher.” I say this to them as they lie looking up at me, stretched-out flat in a puddle. They are in that position because, through there may be laws against belting children, they have not yet made a law against my ducking and dodging, and, when children attack from all angles, I make a Spanish Matador look like a clod. Meanwhile I am thinking of ways to put all their energy to good use.

I had just hit upon the idea of digging a ditch and planting potatoes, and likely was looking up and thanking God for the stroke of genius, which explains why I wasn’t looking down, and got hit by the charging child. The small monster head-butted me at roughly twenty miles an hour just to the left of my solar plexus, (over my operation scar), and I thought it might flush a lot out of my system in a hurry.

But such is spring. Even the flooding creeks, streams and rivers are flushing refuse downstream. I looked at the boy and said nothing, so I can’t be arrested or charged, but the child did look worried, as I decided “Spring is like a yo-yo…” simply wouldn’t do for my poem, and decided upon, “Spring is like a colonoscopy…

You will be thrilled to learn I never got around to writing that poem. I was too exhausted from planting potatoes. I thought we’d only manage to plant three or four, and then the kids would all start whining, “Can’t we stop?”, but they really got into a groove, (or trench). They wanted to dig, dig, dig, and I had to break up fights over who would next hack with the hoe. They were tireless. We planted all the Pontiac Reds (that ripen early for summer potato salads), the Yukon Golds, Kennebecs and Katahdens (for late summer and autumn mashed potatoes), the Burbank Russets (for winter baking), and the Peruvian Purples (for weirdness). By the end I was whining, “Can’t we stop?” but the merciless slave-drivers shouted, “No! Onward! Onward you lazy wimp!”Yo 1 IMG_4782

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I tried to take a break by pointing out meal-worms and millipedes and mites, but the only thing that slowed some them was a bright crimson mite, and even that was merely for a moment.

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Then the other mites drove me on.

So that explains why I am hunched over holding my back in a manner befitting a man of my advanced years. My shuffling manner of walking, on the other hand, involves a hike. I thought hiking with the older children might be safer, as they tend to dawdle. I was wrong.

We headed off to look at a tree the beavers had nearly-but-not-quite gnawed down last summer. It was amazing that the tree didn’t fall over. But perhaps our beavers are under achievers.

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I wanted to see if winter winds had knocked the tree down. When we arrived we saw a snapped-off hemlock’s top had not only flattened the tree, but buried it.

Now, the hemlock may not have been a big hemlock for the west coast, but it was big for the east; I couldn’t get my arms more than halfway around it, yet it was chopped down by little carpenter ants and by a woodpecker who was after those ants.

Now by now you are probably rolling your eyes, and think I must be pulling your leg about beavers that can’t cut down trees, and woodpeckers that can, but I tell you in our neck of the woods our woodpeckers are not those cute little birds that go “tippity-tip-tap” like Broadway dancers. They are a foot and a half tall with wings nearly three feet across, and give a crazy yell like a jungle monkey,  “Kook-Kook-Kook-Kook-Kook-Kook!” If you happen to be climbing a tree and one comes around the trunk and you are eye to eye with it,  you arrive at a swift judgement: “This dude is crazy. He has the eyes of someone who hit his head into a tree sixty thousand times.”

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I tell you our woodpeckers are much tougher than your woodpeckers, and if you don’t believe me take a look at this tree:

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I  was getting a bit tired and figured I could scare the kids into heading back if I told them any woodpecker that could do this sort of damage was likely nine feet tall and ate small children instead of ants. The kids were terrified.Yo 5 IMG_4763

Obviously I needed a different strategy, so I whined, “Can’t we go back?”  But no, they insisted, “No! Onward!  Onward you lazy wimp!”

I tried to discourage them by saying we were going beyond the point where kids from the Childcare had ever ventured before. It didn’t work. There is something about the spring that awakes the Danial Boone in people, and rather than discouraging them I only challenged them. Pioneering became abruptly attractive, even to kids who ordinarily whine about walking six feet to hang up a coat. Without asking permission they went plunging off into the puckerbrush, and I had to follow, because I’m paid to keep an eye on them, but I did have misgivings, because a couple of the kids ordinarily go “eek” at a mouse and “ick” at a mudpuddle, (and Danial Boone hardly ever did that). I knew they might change their minds.

Also we were venturing into a landscape not even many adults venture into any more, (though in the old days a few might seek native trout in the swampy thickets.) It is a flat area filled in by glacial sand that around nine little brooks brought down steep slopes from a small mountain, in an area where all nine brooks come together like the fingers of a nine-fingered hand. Beavers then built a most amazing series of curving and branching dams, in an attempt to control nine brooks, and dug canals to connect the brooks, and, over the ten-thousand or so year since the glaciers retreated, they collected a deep layer of mud behind their dams. Occasionally the beavers had to leave, after they ate every tree in sight, but the first trees that grew back were the birch and alder and aspen they like, so they’d move back and rebuild their dams.  Currently the area is largely abandoned, with only a couple beavers around, and the water level is lower in most places and trees are starting to grow back. Even though the dams are rotting away they still form walkways through the canals and areas of mire, and the kids had a fine time exploring deeper and deeper into the swamp….

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….but then the rain started to get heavier, and one girl didn’t like it. The other four didn’t mind the rain, but commiserated with their friend, and all turned on me with accusing eyes. “This is all your fault!” they stated.

“My fault!?” I exclaimed. “I wanted to go back! You were the ones who wanted to go out into this quagmire!”

“Yes, but we are young and irresponsible. You are suppose to know better!”

“Ok! Ok! We’ll head back.”

“Then why are we heading forward?”

“Because forward is the shortest way back.”

“But we want to go backwards! Backwards the way back!”

“No, forward is the way back”

“You are talking nonsense! You are trying to drown us all!”

“Look, you are going to have to trust me on this. You just said that you are young and irresponsible, and I know better.”

“Well obviously we were wrong! Help! Mr Shaw is trying to drown us all!”

“Stop yelling! Unless you want to be rescued by a helicopter.”

“Ooooh! That would be fun! Let’s keep yelling! Help! Help!”

I was starting to feel a little embarrassed, imagining what a person outside the swamp might think, hearing the girls scream. Four of the girls were joking, but I was a bit worried about the one who didn’t look like she was joking. Meanwhile the three boys were completely indifferent, and deaf to the girls, seemingly adopting insensitivity as the best policy for dealing with the opposite sex.

The path got tricky towards the edge of the swamp, as the spring floods had washed away most of the old dams. I had to pick my way carefully to find a path that kept water from getting over the tops of their boots. Two boys helped me by plunging ahead and finding the deep places, but they didn’t mind the water in their boots. The smallest boy, aged five, followed me and carefully put his feet where I said, and crossed with his feet dry. All five girls failed to follow instructions, and when water poured into their boots they seemed to have a very good time screaming, and right up until we were three feet from the dry land kept shrieking it was better to head back. (I am convinced some girls simply like to scream for the joy of it.)

Then we had a brief contest, emptying water from boots and declaring the winner of the most-water-in-a-boot contest. Then we left the woods and took a safe road back to the Childcare, with me glancing anxiously at houses abutting the swamp, to see if faces scowled out windows at me. Even now I’m a little amazed no one overheard, and no one dialed 911.

Later parents told me they heard from their children they had been on a wonderful adventure. So it looks like I won’t be reported for child abuse. My retirement is delayed. But not denied. One of these days I’ll get reported, and then, “Free at last! Free at Last! Great God Almighty! Free at last!”

Spring also cannot be denied. During the dark, dank, drizzly spell the woods refused to pause like blooms in a florist’s refrigerator, and a haze of yellow sugar maple blooms spread through the twigs.

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Slowly the grip of cold, dank mist weakened,
And though low cloud oppressed, just as dark,
It was as if a lightness was wakened
or a bright spirit indented its mark,
Not on couch cushions like a creepy ghost,
But in every heart, as a sense of ease.

Light airs swung south, as, from some southern coast,
Kind angels came cruising on a merciful breeze
And every heart lifted, without sun to see,
And clenched buds loosened lacy greenery
Despite dark skies. Smiling invisibly
Fortune changed, and was so kind to me
I laughed aloud, and raised up my eyes
And felt warm glances pierce the cloudy skies.

LOCAL VIEW –Beech Buds–

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There’s a mist up in the maples;
There’s a hueing of the trees.
Let the farmer plant his staples;
Let the banker seek his ease.
Neither way will truly please.

I’m made hobo by the woodlands.
I’m made cross-eyed by the trees.
Schoolboys don’t have to be good. Man’s
Made rules ban ecstasies,
And his goals are but a tease.

In the treetops there’s no fading
Above glades that know no shading.
Farmers sweat, as bankers promise.

Schoolboy’s are the Doubting Thomas.

Last week we had but a single glory day, with skies as blue as promises, before the dreary and cold weather clamped back down. This is typical of the hills of New Hampshire. During my boyhood among the flatlanders of Massachusetts I came to expect spring to bust out in April, but I’ve learned not to expect it before May, this far north. We live right at the boundary of a sort of change in climate zones. Here is where Indians stopped attempting to grow corn, and became hunters.

Rather than April being a month where spring busts out, it tends to be a torture. Trees aren’t stupid, and they look both ways before crossing over into summer. The maples start to be hazed by their buds in early April, but they only tantalize, for what seems like forever. A sort of mist rides the tips of twigs, golden green over sugar maples and raspberry over swamp maples, and I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty…….about 5% of the time. The rest of the time it seems like way too much foreplay.

This is especially true when April holds long spells of dank weather, which is often the case. Snow can mix in with the rain right into May on the most torturous years. A sort of war goes on between the powers of rebirth and the powers of rot. (If you plant corn, beans or squash too early, that is exactly what their seeds do: rot.)

To really rub it in, last week the children asked me questions, and I had no answers. Rather than seeing this as an opportunity to teach how life never gets old, and is always full of new things, I just felt I was failing to live up to my reputation for being amazingly knowledgeable. Rot even was effecting my brain. For example, a child asked me, “What animal is this from?”

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(Oh the irony! Here it is April, and rather than the fresh and new, I am consulted about an old bone. ) I had to confess I didn’t know. My guess was it was an old pig bone, and then, to hide my ignorance, I pointed out the gnawing marks left by deer mice, and also disseminated a bit about scientists who know their bones.

The next question was about foam coming from the side of a tree.

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 Again I had to confess I had no clue. I had noticed it before, but never had come across an explanation in my reading. So I made a guess. I had wondered, when I saw it before, if it was rising sap fermenting in the tunnel made by some sort of wood-boring beetle. Sounds good, at any rate. But then curiosity killed the cat. I googled “foam on trees”, and discovered it was “slime flux”, and caused by bacteria. So then, on top of admitting I didn’t know, I had to admit my wild guess scientific hypothesis was wrong, which no thinker enjoys doing.

Not the best day. Rather than the fresh and new, I get brought bones and bacteria, and get my fat ego humbled to boot.

In such situations I find it best to retreat from my position as an authority figure, and to just do my job, which is to watch the kids. Call it licking-my-wounds if you will, but it is what I do when it is not the best day.

When I am sulking in this manner I like to turn to old,reliable ways of cheering myself up, for example noticing the beauty of red maple blossoms.

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This is what mists the treetops raspberry.  They are so small few notice them.

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They also make an interesting nibble, though I prefer the golden-green blooms of the sugar maple, but they weren’t out yet. Then I got a craving for beech buds, and sauntered over to a low hanging branch, and noticed something interesting. The buds were especially plump.

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When I unwrapped the fat bud I discovered it was fatter than usual because rather than leaves it held a flower.

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This is likely just another sign of rot. Our beech trees are stressed by a virus from Eurasia. When a tree is stressed, it makes nuts like crazy, attempting to reproduce before it dies. And now our beech trees are going the way of the American elm, chestnut, and butternut. Thank you very much, Internationalists. Our squirrels will starve. But we will have our revenge. An exploding population of American gray squirrels is running roughshod over the landscapes of Eurasia. (And it serves them right.)

As I contemplated this situation in my grumpy manner I absentmindedly nibbled the beech bud,  and was surprised how good it was. The flowers sweeten the flavor. Then I remembered my job. I was suppose to be watching the kids, and they had become suspiciously quiet.

When I turned I saw I was a teacher, after all. I saw a line of quiet children strung out behind me like ducklings, or perhaps like small monkeys behind a daddy gorilla. They were all nibbling beech buds.

I figured that, if I’m stuck with the job, I’d better do it right, so I taught them, “You don’t want to eat too many of those things, or it will make your tongue feel all hairy.”

(Yet another little-known-fact from my vast store of wisdom.)

[Photo credits for “old bone” and “foaming tree” pictures go to Marlowe Gautreau.]

LOCAL VIEW –Refrigerated Blooms–

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Winter weary, wanting spring to slow down,
I don’t half mind refrigerated blooms,
As if some florist had snuck into town
And wanted no wilting by rain-wet tombs,
No fading of flowers by flag stoned graves.

Who am I kidding? The spring never stays
And there is no cold that completely saves
Yellow daffodils under sky’s many grays.

How can I hope when my hopes always wilt?
The glass is half full, but the half-glass’s spilt.
Rust never sleeps as dream-towers are built.
I stand before God; my achievement is guilt.

God alone lasts; it grows clearer and clearer
As wilting looks back at me from my mirror.

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