Monday, June 13, 2016

My Most-Interesting Front Yard

No, I'm not going to be writing about what happens when sand kaffirs and faggots collide (except to say the more Muslims in the U.S., the more slaughter). Everyone else is giving their opinion on that.

My parents passed away two years ago and I inherited the house. So I had to move back from a thousand miles away to fix up the house and sell it. I wasn't happy about that.

I had to replace the central A/C unit, the refrigerator, the hot water heater, the furnace, vent the dryer to the outside, and install a vent in the bathroom, which meant a vent though the attic and out the roof. I also had new insulation blown into the attic which, of all things, consists of treated recycled ground-up newspapers (hey, there is a use for the Mainstream Media!).

Then there were the new shutters since the old ones were taken away by a tornado which barely missed my house but blew up three houses behind me. One guy found his unharmed daughter still in her bed in the front yard.

It has not been fun.

As long as I can remember I wake up at 5:30 am, so when I am not working I often sit in the rocking chair on the front porch (I live in a "suburb," but there is a plowed field across the street and a huge lake across the railroad tracks) and just watch things while drinking coffee and smoking a cigar.

The "things" that happen are better than TV.

Before the houses behind me were built when I was 14 there was a field there, too, one that went on for miles. (I used to consider my house on the edge of the suburbs and the beginning of the countryside.)

It reminds of what Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about sitting in her chair in her house and watching what happens through her window. Incidentally, her house (which her husband built) is in Mansfield, Missouri - and I have been in that house.

I understand why she did what she did.

I once saw two deer run across the field and stand in my neighbor's front yard. A buck and a doe (one of my neighbors once found a new-born fawn in his bushes). I also once saw some sort of bird of prey swoop down and carry off one of the stupid rabbits that come out in the morning. I snickered (birds have to eat, too, and female rabbits sometimes eat their babies). Rabbits are just prey, anyway, which is why they have their eyes on the sides of their heads (we're predators, which is why our eyes are on the fronts of our heads).

The ducks aren't too smart, either. Once two came walking down the sidewalk, then one crossed the street (the other stood and watched, then followed the first). Then they stood there for a minute, then flew away.

A car had to stop to let them waddle across the street.

Some of the birds don't like cats, either, especially blue jays, who dive-bomb cats.

I have forgotten how many animals I have buried in the field across the street. A squirrel squished by a car and a dachshund who didn't understand cars. Others, too, but I don't remember all of them. There are at least two dogs in my backyard, who also didn't understand cars, and a few cats, one of whom didn't know you weren't supposed to drink antifreeze. Oh, and a cat flattened by a car (right across his head).

I guess all the rabbits and squirrels don't see me sitting on the front porch. All they do is forage for food, sleep and reproduce.

At least their relationships are simpler than ours, such as the cat who gave birth to kittens behind the bushes in the front yard. After a week she moved them and I never saw them again.

People's relationships are much more complex, such as the guy lying flat on top of a car and screaming, "Help! Help!" The driver finally pulled over, he got off, she took off and he walked right in front of me. He looked at me and said, "Girlfriend!" I nodded and thought, at least he's not married to her.

She reminded me of the snake that lived in a hole near the front porch. I saw him catch a toad, which he swallowed rear first. I had no idea toads could scream, but they can.

Some years ago I read by book by John McPhee called The Pine Barrens. One of the characters in the book said he'd go out wandering the barrens looking for what he called "happenings." God knows what he encountered. There's some weird stuff in the deep forest (in which I have been), which is why so many "fairy tales" feature them.

Coyotes? For years I didn't know there were coyotes in my area (they are generally nocturnal animals) but I've seen them in the field across the street. Groundhogs, too, one of which didn't have a tail.

You can certainly observe a lot by just watching.

4 comments:

paulmurray said...

Kangaroos, echidnas, and the occasional wombat around these parts. There are bower birds up around where I work. Saw one of them fly past, once, rocketing by a foot above the ground, following the contour. They're woodland birds, stubby-winged and manoeuvrable. Magpies, of course. Vicious fuckers with utility knife beaks who keep the pigeons in their place, and an amazing song. The occasional kookaburra - iridescent wing flashes, the whole bit. Birds everywhere, really. I gather that Australians don't really 'get' how full of birds this country is.

Only ever saw one snake. Amazing to watch, flowing over the ground like water, like mercury. Where I work, there are water dragons all over the place. Two species: the brownish ones and the greenish ones. Insects, of course. Spiders, naturally. Mainly huntsmen. And sometimes a little treasure: a salticid. You look at them, and they look at you. You can tell, because they direct their vision by moving their retinas. When their eyes go black, it means they are looking straight at you.

As for people, to see them I go out on a friday and saturday. They seem to enjoy drinking until they vomit, and fighting or causing fights. Bit of a mystery, but there you have it.

It's not a bad life, really.

Genji said...

"You can certainly observe a lot by just watching."

Not if you're a leftist and what you observe contradicts your ideology du jour.

Not exactly Montaigne, but I do so like your ruminations!

Bob Wallace said...

"You can certainly observe a lot by just watching."

I'm not sure but I think Yogi Berra, the baseball coach, said that.

Genji said...

Oops... that flew right past me until you mentioned it!