Sunday, March 18, 2012

RIP Miss Piggy

In the words of Cole Porter, “it’s spring again, the birds on the wing again, start to sing again, the old melody”.  Birds have been making their presence known around my house this past week.  From my perch on the porch I have a perfect view of the dead tree our resident bluebirds call home.  And as certain as the turn of the calendar a hummingbird showed up at our regular feeder sight on March 15.  I knew they would be arriving and I had meant to get the feeder cleaned and ready for the bird master to fill it and hang it up.  But like most things I procrastinated.  The hummingbird did not.  He was on perfect schedule, hovering at the breakfast room window testing the red glass disks on my windchime for flavor.  I’m sure I saw him put his wings on his hips and scold me through the window.  No fear, the bird master did his duty and the red sugar water is poised and in position to welcome back the weary travelers. 

Yesterday morning the bird master spotted two blue jays scouting a pine tree in our backyard.  Back and forth across the yard they flew, gathering straw and twigs to weave into a nest for their next brood.  A thrasher wanted to welcome them to the neighborhood, but one of the jays told it to get out of its yard and chased it away.  That was enough to send the thrasher back to kicking about the leaves on the ground.  I wouldn’t want to be chased by a blue jay either.  Those are some scary birds.  While we were watching the DIY nest building episode we had a visit to the hummingbird feeder.  It wasn’t the ruby throated male from a couple of days before, but a wren.  That was a first for me.  I’ve never seen a wren try to drink from a hummingbird feeder.  Apparently it had not either, and with its beak bent in shame it gave up and flew away.

Porter should have added another verse to “I Love You” which says something about how love is in the breeze but the lovers cannot meet because of the weeds tripping up their feet as they run towards each other in slow motion in the grassy meadow.  I decided to be productive yesterday and tackle the weeds in my vast flower beds.  I donned my straw hat and garden gloves and went to work.  , but I was only good for about an hour before I called it a day and headed inside to rest.  I found Nottinghill on and I can never pass up a Brit Flick.  Besides, it was much more fun to watch Hugh Grant stumble over his words than it was for me to stumble over the stumps and briars in my garden.  Anyway, in the short time I was out outside I heard a familiar bird sound high in the sky.  It was a hawk, maybe even two.  I generally like hawks.  The bird master especially does, hence, the middle name of our first born.  However, the hawk and I have come to an impasse today.  This morning I find only one goose in the pasture.  Jerry Clower, my gander is still here, but Miss Piggy, his faithful mate is gone.  My guess is she’s gone on the wing of that hawk I heard yesterday.  I donned the straw hat and went weeding again and looking for her as well.  Then I heard it again, the high pitched one note whistle overhead.  This time I heard it say “and your little dog too”.  Poor Jerry Clower.  He’s so lonely.  I opened the pasture gates so he could go visit the goats on the other side.  They will keep him company, and maybe they can convince him to sleep in the barn with them tonight and hide out from that hawk looking for its second course.

Meanwhile I looked to see if any eggs were left in the nest Miss Piggy had been pampering for the last couple of weeks.  None.  So maybe the hawk isn't to blame afterall.  I should have taken the eggs away so as not attract critters, but I had visions of little yellow geese swimming peacefully on the pond.  Oh well, I think I'm getting out of the feathered friend business.  I’m not sure I want to keep raising hawk food.  Or in this case, coon food.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dream diary continued...

I had a strange dream last night.  I was sitting at a table with some others on a deck on a beach.  The waves were coming in fast and strong.  I had a camera, a lens, and something else in my hand, and my iPod was on the table.  The waves were getting closer and closer and this was not normal because the deck was pretty far from the shoreline.  I kept telling myself I needed to take the camera, etc. inside or they were all going to get wet and ruined.  Next a wave came and sloshed under my chair.  I knew then I had to get up and take my stuff inside.  But then another wave came and washed all the way over the table and took my iPod with it.  We all jumped up from the table and I chased my iPod.  Then the water went out, like a tsunami, and everyone went running out into the dry ocean bed.  I did too, but I was warning everyone to come back in because I knew a big wave was about to hit.  I still had my camera and the lens in my hand.   I could see the wave coming but I knew I couldn’t escape it so I rode it up and held my breath.  It tossed me around and I dropped my camera and the lens.  I went down in the water to get them even though I knew the saltwater had probably already ruined them. 

Here’s the strange part.  I was under water, but another me was on a bridge or pier overlooking the water with a bunch of other people looking for me.  Everyone else had given up on finding the drowning me, but the me on the bridge saw bubbles surfacing so she jumped in to find me.  The drowning me was standing on the bottom and looking up at the surface.  I was not very deep but the water was over my head.  I don’t know why I didn’t just push up and surface.  The other me coming to rescue drowning me saw me and reached in and pulled me out and saved me.  Then I woke up.  Interpretations are welcome.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sing, sing a song

It doesn’t take much to make me happy.   Sitting on my porch and listening to the sounds of the woods makes me happy.  This activity is not one my oldest friend and travelling partner cares much for, because she is afraid she might hear the screech of Bigfoot in the background.  Sorry, dear friend.  I had to get that in somewhere.

My house sits on property with two ponds and a creek running through it.  With so much water around it is understandable that frogs are in abundance.  There are bullfrogs that can rattle the windows when they croak, their bass tones lower than any human voice on the register.  These and the other water frogs I cannot name must be invisible.  I can hear them, but I never see them.  I have no idea how big they are, or what color because they always hide just below the surface of the water when I go out to find them. 

My favorite are the tree frogs; Bird Voiced, Gray, Green, Squirrel and Spring Peepers.  Together with the water frogs they create a symphony with their unusual cadence, all joining in harmony, building to a crescendo and then trailing away to quietness for a few seconds until they are ready to begin the next movement.  Mostly the frog song is a signal, telling me it will soon be spring.  Their song is like a lullaby soothing my worries and calming my spirit.  They remind me the pleasant days of spring are near, short lived as they may be.  They chirrup to me that warm evenings are coming, nights pleasant enough to sit on the porch and listen to the free concert.

Unlike the water frogs the Green tree frogs are quite visible.  They cling by their suckered toes to my windows and glass doors on warm evenings.  They take advantage of the light from within the house and use it as their trap to capture their dinner of small flies and mosquitos that are drawn to the light.  These tiny green creatures tend to be my favorite.  I am easily amused by their white, squishy bellies pressed against the glass as they slowly creep along in search of prey.  I have to open and close the door quickly, or they will leap inside.  They are so quick. 

I, however, am not amused when froggy goes a’courtin’ and chirps all night outside my window.  He has lost his lease more than once for this behavior.  My son thought I was crazy when I trapped the love-struck froggy in a bowl and released him far from the house.  I thought I was being humane.  Froggy just laughed at my folly and found his way back the next night for a repeat performance.

A few years ago I had some ducks and our frog population diminished.  Apparently frog eggs and tadpoles are a delicacy to a duck’s palette.  But this spring they are back in full force, at least for the time being.  Now I have two geese who spend the majority of their time bottoms up in the pond or dabbling up and down the ditch that runs between the two ponds.  I suspect geese have a taste for frog as well.  I know they have a taste for fingers as evident by the Band-Aid my son was sporting the other day.  I guess only time will tell what effect the geese will have on the frog population, but for now the song is strong.  And that makes me happy.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Stormy weather

I’ve always heard that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.  Here it is the second day in March and the lion has been roaring all across the country since yesterday.  Tornadoes have already hit towns from Missouri to Alabama and on northwards.   And the red ticker continues to scroll across the television screen screaming out watches and warnings of severe weather all around me.  So far lightening pops and silent flashes are as bad as it has been at my house, and hopefully that is the worst of it.

With the threat of severe weather I’ve been thinking about weather events I’ve experienced in my life.  I knew the weather was going to be rough today in north Mississippi so I reminded my friend Regina on Facebook that she needed to find the weather shelter at her new job at Ole Miss.  In response my Indonesian friend, Paulus, mentioned that the only shelter he ever knew of during his time studying at USM was the hallway.  I congratulated Paulus on becoming a true Southerner, for what Southerner has not spent countless hours waiting out a storm in a hallway? 

Growing up we had a short narrow hallway in our house and it sheltered us from every storm that passed over 118 Rawls Avenue.  My mother survived a tornado when she was young, so if she saw clouds gathering with even a hint of gray she went into survival mode.  My daddy on the other hand was invincible.  Nothing frightened him, and I think he got a little kick out of proving it.  It was never a surprise to find him mowing the grass or working on the roof when it was lightening.  I also think he secretly enjoyed how much his behavior annoyed my mother.

Even though the hallway is associated with potential life-threatening danger, I always felt comforted in there.  I guess in my young mind I thought it would protect me from everything and that idea just stuck.   My earliest memories of sleeping in the hall go back to when I was three and Hurricane Camille was upon us.  I remember hearing windows breaking in other rooms of the house and my mother walking around with a flashlight and going out on the front porch to see if the car was still there or if had been blown away. If my mother thought the weather was going to be bad she would make us sleep in the hallway on pallets on the tiled floor.  It was a common occurrence to be awakened in the night and ordered into the hall because bad weather was approaching.   Once, in recent history, she had a meeting with an estate planner and bad weather hit.  Into the hall she went taking whatever grandchildren were there and the estate planner with her.  I wish I had a picture of that moment. 

I must admit that I, as a parent, have done the same thing to my own children.  I’ve dragged them out of their beds still sleeping and put them in the hall on bad nights.  Once the three of us sat in the hall and prayed aloud because at the time a hailstorm was pounding on the roof and I was sure the roof would blow off at any moment.  I think that is the most afraid I’ve ever been of weather in my adult life, partly because I had children to protect and partly because, well, it was really scary.  I know how my mother must have felt gathering her brood together on stormy nights.  I only had two to worry about and she had seven.  Poor woman, she worried enough for all of us. 

There is one storm she almost missed because at the time she was working nights and sleeping during the day.  It was THE storm to hit Hattiesburg.  Ask anyone from around here and they’ll know it instantly.  I was in the second grade.  For my husband it was the storm that hit in third grade.  It’s different for everyone but still the same.  Everyone knows it as the day the world turned black; dark as midnight in the middle of the day.  We had a basement at my school and they would squeeze as many kids as they could into it when bad weather hit.  My class’s safe haven was music room in the basement music room right outside the cafeteria.  The windows were high so the view wasn’t much but the blackness was unmistakable.  I remember the lights going out and all us second-graders screaming.  It turned out to be a false alarm.  Some trouble-maker had turned them out to scare everyone.  And then they really did go out and everyone screamed again.  I don’t know how long the storm lasted but it felt like hours to me.  When it was mostly over someone opened the door to the outside and water poured in and began flooding the hall.  That’s about all I remember of that day, but that’s enough for me.

That was THE storm upon which all future storms were measured until another little storm called Hurricane Katrina came a’knocking.  I credit Katrina with teaching me it is true, tornadoes really do sound like trains.  I wasn’t as much afraid during Katrina as I was awestruck.  It was so surreal.  It was the aftermath of the storm that terrified me. 

Nowadays I am not afraid of storms.  I’m cautious, always cautious, but I am not afraid. My current home has no hallways to speak of, and my children are taller than me now and don’t need me to protect them from the weather.  Nevertheless I still call them down from their rooms when the winds pick up and the daylight turns dark.  I haven’t had the need to tonight, thank goodness, but there are still 29 days left before the lion turns into the lamb.