Sunday, May 26, 2013

a week of redstarts, rain, dread, and breeches (buckle down, winsocki)

A day of disquietude settled by evening rain. It felt it should rain all day, and it was supposed to. The day started out cool and damp and breezy, but by afternoon all clouds were tucked away, it was warm and humid, it felt all wrong. Then, an overcast, a cool breeze. Mist drifted through the red budding leaves of the chokecherry trees. But still, hours before the rain arrived. Now, the sky is dark with storm, and I welcome it. At nine-fifteen it should be dark, but with the sun staying up ’til nine-thirty or so, and the light lingering on for hours after, well, this time of year I rarely see the dark, and the dark is quieting. The storm is quieting. The thunder is quieting.

All day plenty to do, but no direction, no focus, waiting for the rain. Two of the five spruce I transplanted in the fall are looking dry and brown. Last night I transplanted a four-foot white pine and a smaller serviceberry that came up with it. The three serviceberries I moved last year are dead.

Down at the river this morning. Rain on young leaves, rain on water, rain on the needles of thick, old cedars.

Perhaps, finally, the rain has ended. Tonight’s sky is low with soft grey velvety clouds. Everything is lush, damp, beaded with drops of rain. The field is alive with color—smudged pinks, brushes of crimson, dapplings of light green and yellow—all the young buds and leaves. The evergreens are dark and broody, many sporting small, hard, dusty gold cones. The grass and weeds and wildflowers are growing strong; I mowed before the rain and now must mow again.

The trees are not yet full, and it is fine to see the birds among the vibrant branches. This evening, a flock of goldfinches decorate a crimson chokecherry, and robins are making the rounds, flashing their ruddy orange through the green. On this morning’s walk to the river I trailed a bird I’ve never seen before. It was flitting from old flower head to old flower head and once in a while going down into the grass then lifting itself up. It had a black head, a buff-colored belly, and its dark breast and wings were marked with bands of orange and yellow, most colorful when in flight. The size of a finch or wren. I saw it again tonight when making dinner and went out to get some pictures, none of which turned out very well.

For the first time in three years, I am not looking forward to the farmers market.

This morning found a patch of Dutchman’s breeches. Now to find the Dutchman!

A patch of breeches left behind by the Dutchman.
What a pleasure to mow after dinner! (And I will say that only this once, I’m sure.) Cool and breezy, sun lowering in the west-by-northwest sky. The grass grew an inch or so in the rain, and this time of year usually if you lose a day, you lose a lawn.

I’ve thrown a sheet over the clothesline to block the sun so I can sit out here on my gravel porch and write. There are so many birds! Goldfinches, juncos, yellow-dappled wrens, American redstarts (the mystery bird from yesterday), and towhees. Three hummingbirds circle the feeder—the one who “owns” it has been very diligent about chasing the other two off, but one of the interlopers has been mighty bold, even sitting on the roosting bar for a second. Oh my gosh! You’d think he’d committed a cardinal sin or something! Such a fuss.

One of the problems with identifying the redstart was, I believe, my description of the bird’s behavior. When I saw it, it was flitting about the field, seemingly picking seeds off the old wildflower heads. What the bird was actually doing was flushing insects from the grass then nabbing them in mid-air. Aha! Just like a redstart.

Then, the world stood still. A deer spotted Elliott hunkered down at the edge of the lawn. The deer stared at Elliott for quite a while, neither of them moving, then the deer seemed to move on, but all it did was to circle around in front of Elliott, continue to stare, nibble at the grass, stick its nose forward, sniff, move forward a step or two, move its ears back, move its ears forward, stare, take another step, do it all again. Oh my gosh. Get on with it. When about 10 feet away, Elliott stood, slowly, and turned. He ambled this way then that, away from the deer, with the deer following, but keeping its distance. Suddenly Elliott dashed over to the garage, not too fast, but not too slow, either. From the garage he walked on up to the house, and when I opened the door, right on in. The deer went back to grazing.

Hmmmm ...
An overnight frost came in like the cops busting up a party.

Such a dread for tomorrow’s farmers market. 

I should eat my words, what I wrote Friday about the farmers market, but I won’t. It was a great day and I enjoyed my new spot at the market, but that doesn’t invalidate Friday’s dread, and the more people I talk to about the forced move of my booth to a quieter area of the market, the more I realize this.

My brother-in-law, a 30-some-year veteran of art fairs throughout the western states, was one who sympathized with my plight, and one thing he said has resounded: Any art fair or farmers market is a collaboration between those running the show, the vendors, and the customers. Yesterday, when my customers showed up and bought beeswax and chatted or just chatted without buying beeswax, all was right with the world. And, as always, there were many interesting conversations. Like about making bullets. Yes, I talked to a guy who makes his own bullets, and he needed beeswax to toss into the molten lead because, well, who knew that some people make their own bullets? Who knew that beeswax pulls the impurities from the lead used to make these bullets? And who knew that pure lead is crucial for a sound bullet? I also talked to a woman who not only knew the town of Aledo, Illinois, where I was born, but she has actually been there many times. And from her husband I learned my corn candle is actually a field corn candle.

Of course this all might have been different if the weather had not given us an absolutely gorgeous day with full sun and just the lightest breeze off Lake Superior to keep it fresh. A day like that coming on the summer’s first holiday weekend jostles most everybody into a good mood, and people will tend to stroll happily through every nook and cranny of the farmers market on a nice day. Yes, there were times when the outer ring was barren of customers and a look back to the main area of the market showed you where the crowd was (heck, they’ve got live music over there), and come a rainy day or a cold day or a rainy, cold day with a biting wind, well, that’s not today, is it.

All day yesterday I gladly took in the commiseration offered me by other vendors and learned that some had either been asked to move or otherwise learned they were going to be moved, and when they balked, well, they didn’t get moved, so either I did something wrong or my “Hey, wait a minute! You can’t move me!” came at exactly the wrong moment for those who run the show to give two flying hoots. But this information about others being able to abort moves directly contradicts what I was told by those running the show—that all vendors are treated the same. So. Well. There are always a few missing pieces, aren’t there? I found it interesting that many customers thought I had asked to be moved, assumed my new spot was my choice.

For today, a big thank you to my customers, to my fellow vendors, to the weather, and, grudgingly, I admit, to the folks who run the farmers market. And to Bruce Springsteen. Thanks to Bruce, by the time I arrived at the market yesterday I had already had a great day. Usually I let the radio decide the music for my drive to Marquette—an hour-and-a-half cruise along a quiet two-lane highway cutting through forests and the occasional small town—but yesterday I opted for a particular Springsteen CD that ends with perhaps the finest sequence of five songs ever put on CD (see below), and just plain damn good songs all the way through. As “Born in the U.S.A.” began, pretty well cranked, the sun rose over a motionless Keweenaw Bay. From “Mary’s Place” I got my quote for the day (seven days, seven candles), and by the time I was coming into town I was riding high on this train, which just happens to be Queenie’s song. (Yes, Buster, I opened the windows!)

And, because of the patch of Dutchman’s breeches I found earlier in the week (oh! to find that Dutchman!), I played this video before I even left home. Buckle down, Winsocki.

Disc Two from The Essential Bruce Springsteen ends with:
The Rising
Mary’s Place
Lonesome Day
American Skin (41 Shots) (Live)
Land Of Hope And Dreams (Live)

Friday, May 24, 2013

why i am dreading tomorrow's farmers market

Such a dread for tomorrow’s market. “Fear” is part of the definition of dread, and I do not feel fear, but I do feel the rest of it: to anticipate with misgiving or distaste. If I did not need the money, of course, I would not go. If I had not come to enjoy and depend on the Marquette farmers market as much as I have these past three years, I would not go. Perhaps, though, I have come to enjoy and depend on it too much.

My new booth space at the market is going to be a challenge on two fronts. One, the spot gets less foot traffic and lacks visibility. For the past three years I’ve been on the edge of the market’s main hub in a nice spot with great visibility. Beeswax often sells itself by its scent, but people have to be walking by to catch that scent, and in my new spot, with less people walking by … well. I have also had people notice my display and come walking over from 20, 30 feet away because it caught their eye. In my new spot, there is no way for someone in the main part of the market to see my booth, so that is not going to happen. Whether or not this translates into less income remains to be seen, but the indications are there.

The second front is how I feel on a personal level about this move of my booth. If another veteran vendor had been moved to where I have been moved, I would wonder why they were being punished. Or, I would wonder if they had asked to be moved for some reason. Or, I would wonder how it benefited the market overall. Because otherwise, why would they have been moved? As an unwritten rule, veteran vendors do not get moved to spots with less traffic and lower visibility. It’s just not done. Vendors tend to stay in the same spot year after year, or maybe move to a slightly better spot or just another spot, but definitely not to a worse spot. I was told I was moved for no reason, that it just happened. Like an act of God. Like a blackout. The stigma I feel due to having been moved to the back of the lot is one I’m finding hard to shake.

So meeting challenge number one, the new booth location, is being hampered by challenge number two, my reaction to the new location. Knowing I am adaptable to change and able to meet a challenge (these past eight years must have shown me something, right?), I know I should not be at all concerned about tomorrow and setting up in a new space at the farmers market. But still, I dread it. Why? Because I’m angry that I was moved. Because it’s very likely to affect my income. Because I really liked my old spot and the move is pointless and that just pisses me off. Because a weekly event that I used to look forward to is now one I want to avoid. Because when I head out tomorrow morning Buster will not be on the seat next to me demanding that I roll down the window even though it’s only 30 degrees outside.

Well. That’s why I write. You never know where it is going to lead.

Perhaps there are advantages to my new location at the Marquette farmers market that I do not yet see. If so, I will find them. And, as my mother always says, “This too shall pass.” I am committed to the market through October, but I doubt I will be there every Saturday as in the past. It’s time to explore new territory.

So, how was the next day’s farmers market? Find out at the end of the next entry  …

Sunday, May 19, 2013

looking a lot like spring: a pea picklin’ diary

Really gotta get organized for Saturday’s fair at Algomah Acres.

Last night read Daphne du Maurier’s “The Birds,” the short story from which Hitchcock concocted the movie. For years, du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn has been a favorite of mine. Now, I’m discovering everything else she wrote.

Got organized, and a good thing, too. Carol of Art U.P. Style called with a nice candle order. She’ll be setting up at the FinnFest Tori in June, taking some of my beeswax with her.

Cloudy and in the 50s all day, then about 4:30 the sky cleared and the temperature quickly rose to 70. The petunias I potted up are enjoying that. And the daffodils seem happy.

The garage window petunias.

Such a wind! All day blowing hard with random gusts swirling things around. A couple of daffs were knocked down, so brought them inside, in a vase. Also brought the petunias in, except for the ones secured in the garage window. Sunny and warm; a Severe Weather Alert for conditions ripe for fire.

As he does on nice days, Elliott walked with me to the river, though he doesn’t really walk with me. First, he lags back, then, he barrels ahead, brushing my right leg as he passes. (Buster loved doing that with Queenie, giving her a little hip check as he whooshed by.) Once in front of me by a few yards, Elliott stops, sits, waits, I pass, then he does it all again.

The river has receded, leaving the bank I walk down covered with sand about halfway up. This has greatly cleared and leveled the trail. In the sand, deer prints. This morning, to clear head room, I snapped dead branches off cedars. Down toward the end of the trail a large patch of trout lilies is popping up. Elliott wandered around with me, then made a running leap at a tree, grabbed onto the trunk about four or five feet up, hung there a moment, bounced back to earth.

I wish Buster’s 7- or 10- or 15-year-old self was with us. Maybe he and Elliot would chase each other up and down the trail.

Patch of trout lilies.
First tick: 4:55 p.m.

First hummingbird: 7:55 a.m. He (or she) hovered right outside the window here by my chair and tapped at the window a couple of times. I put out the feeder, and late this afternoon I sat on the porch with a glass of wine and watched two hummies maneuvering. The feeder is large and has a roosting bar with about eight sippie holes all around, but if one hummie was asettin’ and sippin’ the other would pull up short, hover, zip away. Elliott sat with me, either unaware of or uninterested in the little birds.

The day started with a bird adventure even before hummie showed up—Elliott brought a live one, a wren, into the cabin. He let it go within moments, and I yelled. Elliott ran upstairs. The bird bounced against a living room window then latched onto a screen. I opened the front door and began moving slowly behind the bird. It flew into the kitchen, bounced against the big west window, then perched on the sill, which is below the kitchen table. I opened the kitchen door, got down on my hands and knees to look the bird in the eye, and quietly explained that his best move was to hightail it on out of here. And there he went.

All set for tomorrow (or so I think). First market of the year.

Up in the old choir loft, a fiddle player rollicked while down below people chatted and browsed and squeezed fresh bread. They sniffed soaps and beeswax and stood back to admire paintings and etched glass and ran fingers over soft, handwoven rugs. They listened to the lilt of clay ocarinas. They eyed gemstones and jewelry and pepper plants and leeks. They were tempted by peanut butter cookies and froggie cupcakes and samples of cinnamon mead and ginger honey. They learned about worm tea and worm castings. All the while, paper cranes dangled from driftwood, gently bobbing to the beat. When lunch was offered, people sat and ate chili and quiche.

Outside the old church, it drizzled and rained.

Who’s that guy in the window?

Last night, after the fair, I was pooped. With a fire glowing in the woodstove, I stretched out on the sofa and flipped through movies on Netflix, finally settling on “My Six Loves” with Debbie Reynolds. It always intrigues me when an actress plays an actress, and I wonder what it’s like being an actress playing an actress who finds six grungy but adorable kids and one mangy but lovable mutt living in an old shed at her little-used country home in Connecticut. Then meeting the handsome local preacher, who at first seems to be the gardener. No doubt where this is going: the actress, the preacher, the six kids, the dog, and the actress’s ever-present-funny-lady sidekick become a family. Are a family. They just have to realize it, and be it. The movie is full of mad-cap scenes and familiar faces, including David Janssen, Cliff Robertson, Alice Ghostley, Jim Backus, and the dog who played Horrible on an episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show, to name just a few. There’s one song, and toward the end there’s a fuzzy close-up of Debbie’s face, which I didn’t think was really necessary to the scene, but it fit the movie.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

those idyllic hours between cluster fly hell and tickie time

The cluster fly myths listed below have been seen on the Internet at one time or another. Please feel free to do your own research.

Millions of cluster flies were killed in preparation for this post.

It little bothers me that there is snow on the ground this fine Mother’s Day morning. Yes, snow. Kind of a sloppy snow with green grass and daffodils poking through—the kind of snow one might expect in May in the Upper Peninsula—and it may snow more today, or rain, or do this or that, it little matters to me because these are the idyllic hours between cluster fly hell and tickie time.

Yes, the cluster flies have vanished, poof, gone shortly after the first of May, and I am pretty sure as long as it snows now and then the ticks will hang back.

Let it snow.

Through the kitchen window about 9:30 last night.
This is the first time since August there have been no cluster flies in or around the cabin. Eight, nearly nine long months. Wasp activity also picked up in August and September, and before that, of course, mosquitoes. And before the mosquitoes, ticks.

Let’s back up.

Everyone knows about mosquitoes and wasps and ticks. Not everyone knows about cluster flies. There may be a reason for this. It seems people don’t like to talk about cluster flies. I have been told that “everyone has them” (around these parts) and that “there’s no getting rid of them” (around these parts), and yet, nobody talks about them. (On the other hand, there is much discussion about mosquitoes and ticks.) In the fall, when the cluster flies were coming inside to hunker down for the winter (see Myth #2 below) I would say, conversationally: “Jeepers, are the cluster flies really bad this year or what?” The reply? A blank stare. Then, “Cluster flies?” as if I were talking about something unheard of in these parts. “Yes,” I would say, wondering if I should persist. “All those flies that gather on the windows … ?” “Oh … ” a pause. “You mean those flies … ” And then, after a bit more coaxing, “Oh yeah, they’re awful, I just vacuum them up.” (To be fair, one person has readily talked with me about cluster flies. He is the only person I know to have gotten rid of them. He used an insecticide available on the Internet—not that contraption filled with crushed eggshells. Though that may work.)

Cluster flies look pretty much like any other fly, but they have specific behavior that is, indeed, odd, and it is riddled with myth and nonsense. In these parts, they appear suddenly in late August and by September hordes of them are in the house, clustering on windows.

Myth #1 Cluster flies congregate on sunny southern windows.
Truth Cluster flies congregate on any and all windows.

Cluster flies do not bother one’s person—they prefer windows—but as they mass inside they do fly from window to window and if you are in their way, bink. They also dart around just outside the cabin. Bink, bonk. Five, ten feet away, no flies. By October, there are so many flies in and around the cabin it is a nightmare. The only consolation is that when daylight fades, the flies disappear. But then, turn on a lamp …

Myth #2 Cluster flies come inside during the fall to find a snug, warm place to hibernate.
Truth Cluster flies are flying around and congregating on windows and light bulbs all winter long. This is hibernation?

Direct exposure to sun (or heat) does seem to liven up these flies—this becomes more evident during the winter months when the day starts with a cold house. As the house warms up, so do the flies. They are definitely more groggy during the winter (except maybe on a sunny day), and they are easily picked off with fingertips or a sweep of tissue. I catch a lot on fly paper that I hang strategically by a lamp. And they are incredibly easy to vacuum. In fact, I vacuumed so many last fall with my little shoulder vac that I had to change the bag every night. When that vac busted—I stepped on the cord once too many times and the cord frayed and pulled away from the machine—I nearly had a nervous breakdown. You see, I had started a war against these flies, and once a war is started and you see yourself losing, well, do you back down or do you fight on? Do you let it become an obsession?

I knew there were flies when I bought this place. I thought they would not bother me.


I replaced my vacuum with another bought used online and within a few days was back in business.

Myth #3 For every one cluster fly you see, there are 19 more.
Truth Really? Does this make sense? Think about it. For every one fly you see, there are 19 more. So I see a fly, there are 19 more, I kill a fly, are there still 19 more? Why 19? Why not 20 or 30 or 17? If you can’t see them, how do you know? And if you do see them ... there are 19 more.

Cluster flies crawl up windows, hang out at the top until they lose their balance or fall asleep or get bored. Then they fall to the window’s sill and, if it’s spring, spin on their backs. It is a death spin. In the fall and winter, they simply start crawling back up to the top of the window.

Myth #4 After hibernating (ha!) through the winter, cluster flies awaken in the spring and go outside to breed.
Truth The flies show no different behavior in the spring except for this death spin on the windowsill. Is it part of the mating ritual?

There are more flies in spring than in winter, inside and out, but I have no evidence as to which direction they are moving. In my experience, they are moving in both directions. If I leave the windows and doors open, some fly in, some fly out. The day the chickadee flew in led me to believe that leaving windows and doors open was not a good idea, no matter which way the flies were going.

(Note: Chickadees eat cluster flies. Thank you.)

Myths #5 & #6 Cluster flies breed outside in the spring, laying eggs in the ground (and earthworms are involved … ). A cluster fly’s life span is two or three weeks.
Truth Well, all I can say is, where the heck are all these flies coming from in November, December, January, February, March, and April? There’s two feet of snow on the ground! Shouldn’t these flies be hibernating? Or dead?

All of a sudden, right around the first of May, the cluster flies disappeared. For every one I saw and killed, there were no more. It is blessed to look out a window and not see a dark speck (or 19) skittering across it. It is blessed to have an empty bag in the little vacuum, and the little vacuum put away. Now, for these few short hours, there are no cluster flies, no ticks, no mosquitoes, no wasps. Okay, granted, the other day when it was sunny and 80 degrees there were wasps outside, lazing around, but the next day (40 degrees with rain) they were gone. They’ll be back. And any day now, the ticks will start, hitching a ride on cuffs and sleeves, coming in from the fields, dripping from trees, creeping and crawling and looking for skin … oh, don’t get me started. Just get out the tweezers. And leave me these few idyllic hours …

Through the kitchen window about 9 this morning.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

the oddity of the horsetail fern

As I was walking down the road the other day on my way to Jerry’s Auto Repair, I noticed a large patch of horsetail ferns following me along the side of the road. It was cool and breezy, about 30 degrees and snowing, which seemed appropriate as my van was at Jerry’s getting snow tires off, summer tires on. Pussy willows were blooming, their branches adorned with large pearls of pale grey fuzz dotted with small beads of rain and snow, and the branches of the dogwood bushes were blood-red against an otherwise drab landscape. Puddled fields moldy with last year’s hay were brown and muddy and still splotched with greying old snow. Their furrowed brows scowled and cowered from the haunt of gulls overhead. On the other side of the road, in the woods and swamps, trees sported only the tiniest of buds, the baubles of paupers.

Earlier in the week, warm, sunny weather filled our rivers with melting snow. Riverbanks were pulled down, and brown water, swirling and cold, grabbed trees by their roots and carried them off. Rivers popped their banks; roads closed. Schools were let out early and schools closed. Ditches along the side of the road filled with bubbling water, and culverts underneath roads tried to hurry the water along. Some culverts collapsed; some roads collapsed. Then, a sudden return to cold weather brought rain and snow and slowed the snow melt; water receded. Roadside ditches became more like puddles. And alongside those puddles, horsetail ferns.

I had never seen a horsetail fern until I moved here a couple of years ago, and at the time I did not know what the plant was called, or even what type of plant it was. I certainly did not think it was a fern. It looks like a clump of thin, green, segmented straws sticking up helter skelter out of the ground. My first spring here, they were popping up in the yard and over by the river, throughout the fields, seemingly everywhere. I watched them closely. For some reason I was expecting them to do something remarkable. They grew, maybe, at most, a foot or two tall, and some developed weird, conical, small mushroom-like heads that eventually became heads of stringy, green hair. They then disappeared, leaving behind only a thin, hollow, brown stem. It all seemed terribly odd and mysterious, and no one I asked could tell me what this plant was.

Then one day when I was leafing through The New Yorker, which I tend to do at lunch time, and a Talk of the Town piece in the issue of August 1, 2011 caught my eye: “Hunting Horsetails,” by Oliver Sacks. In it he describes horsetail ferns, a plant that is a “fern ally” that he used to see in England on walks with a favorite aunt. She brought life, as it were, to the “plain-looking plants” that were “little more than upright, slender, hollow tubes.” These were ferns, but ferns without fronds. He wrote:
Horsetails have jointed segments telescoping one into the next, the segments getting smaller toward the growing apex. The segments grow smaller in such a regular way that the seventeenth-century Scottish mathematician John Napier, it is said, was inspired by them to invent logarithms. A few of the stems have tiny, tan, whiskery leaves at the joints. The stems themselves are green, and some of them bear little cones at their distal ends, on which the sporangia are clustered. The sporangia are getting tense and ripe, and by midsummer they will dehisce, bursting open to release millions of tiny green spores, their posterity, into the air.
I put down my quesadilla. Damn, I thought, that sounds like those weird straw things in the yard.

Sacks tells of the plant’s history, as related to him by his aunt, that goes back hundreds of millions of years, when horsetails grew to be trees a hundred feet tall. Over the millions of years since then, the remains of those trees have become coal. Sacks was writing about horsetails because he had recently received an email from a friend about a patch in New York City, and he set out to see them. He described his fondness for the plant as stemming, in part, from “their simplicity, their antiquity, and their mathematical elegance.”

I was remembering this as I walked along the side of the road through a world that seemed so barren yet so full-to-busting of the waiting for spring, the budding, leafing, greening, and flowering part of spring that must be near. The slushy snow fell, and tiny, fresh icicles dripped off mailboxes. In the ditches, the green, hollow stems of horsetail ferns poked up through the morass of old grass and mud and snow melt, poked up next to and around rusty old beer cans. For the life of me, the kookie stems looked to be nothing more than a bad case of bed hair.

P.S. If you get the “kookie” reference, please let me know.

Last week’s special report on worms and peepers, or listen to it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Special Report: Peepers trump can of worms!

I almost got caught up in a can of worms this week, which gives me a shiver because we all know where worms in a can can end up, stuck on a hook on the end of a fishing line where they wriggle and kick until … you know. They get caught. By a big fish. Or they get nibbled away at, slowly, agonizingly slowly, by big fish and small, until, well, until they are just a lump of goo on a hook on the end of a fishing line. Either way, not much of a life, unless you like that sort of thing.

I was in this can of worms and I could see myself in it and it’s not like I just suddenly looked around and was, like, ew, gross, I’m in this can of worms; rather, it was more like, crimeny, how can people stand there with their arms crossed and tell me things that are simply not true? I need to stand up for myself, for what I know is true. I should, at least, … Well, there you are. Or there I am. In this can of worms. The can of worms being, of course, an analogy for politics, not, in this instance, the politics of politics, but rather the politics of a small-to-middlin’ organization consisting of, of course, humans, not worms. I have never learned the art of politics, and it wasn’t until I began to sense my very own worminess that I realized what was happening, that I was getting sucked into this can of worms and that I better get out. So I wrote and sent a concession letter, stepped out on the porch, received my reward: Peepers!

The air—the dark, soft, warm, moist night air—was filled with the sound of peepers. The frogs are out! They’re mating! They’re singing! And it is the purest song of spring. I tried to record the peepers, but they were, to some extent, being drowned out by the rushing creek, usually dry, now full of snow melt, and thunder from the river. The river is surging with so much snow melt that it is twice its size. On top of all that, every now and then a bird (I imagined a large bird with a drooping head and a long, skinny beak) was letting out a loud “eep!” This is kinda what it sounded like.

I don’t like being pushed around, being put off with lame excuses, being lied to and subjected to the kinds of smirks and comments that are often made when one person hopes to belittle another, any more than the next person likes it. And I really don’t like getting involved in the politics that allow—or perhaps cause—people to act this way. Kinda wish I had the skills to deal with it better. But for now, hopping out of the can of worms, listening to the peepers, that works.

Now back to our regularly scheduled post.