The boys and I spent the afternoon on a remarkable estuary up north which at ebb tide will occasionally reveal twenty square miles of mud (that’s a smorgasbord! says the bills and beakers) upon the whulge, seemingly far as the eye can see. While they briskly rode bikes-upon-a-dike with bird’s eye views, I ventured hand-in-hand with sore feet and tried to walk with my eyes. Carried my itty-bitty, tiny-sized tripod which screws into the Fuji and often suffices for views from the grass (or mud). We barely beat dark back to the trailhead, Adam let me ride his bike the last quarter of a mile.
Some tawny White-tailed does hiding in the overgrown fencerow spooked at the crunchy frost underneath my dad’s feet this morning, leaping Jane Deeres before him at exceedingly close range. He hasn’t decided on a doe permit yet so he watched them disappear down the lane through floofy, frozen tall grass. On his way back to the house empty-handed, he observed a coyote bounding out of the swale. When I was a boy there was a deep hole in the grass thereabouts, where the tile came in from the field and water eroded the dirt over time. Back in the day, Grandpa fenced it off with post and barbed wire so the cows (and us kids or tractors) wouldn’t fall to their peril but by this time it must have mostly caved on itself. Maybe it’s drier and the coyotes hide in there on reconnaissance missions for mice, woodchucks and barn cats? I’m reading Dan Flores’ excellent Coyote America. At any rate, my parents now have no choice but to rent much of the land behind their home to the local dairy to pay in full those property taxes which would otherwise crush them. The dairy is the filthiest sort of operation producing enough medicalized liquid manure on a daily basis to fill the Empire State Building top to bottom, several times over.
We used the swale for hockey in the wintertime although none of us wore skates, it was mostly just sliding around in boots (rubber galoshes worked the best). Grandpa had picked up some hockey sticks and pucks in a pile of junk, at an auction. There were some terribly rusty skates no one bothered with, they adorned the cobwebbed basement wall throughout my childhood.
My oldest boy is a rather adventurous spirit so I was a little surprised this morning when he resolutely declined the opportunity to ride Metro to school, just a few straight-line miles down the road. He may have felt somewhat intimidated by the high schoolers who tend to cluster like ornery, dazed fowl (who wear too much cologne and perfume) at the adjacent stop in the morning. Nearby Garfield High is one of the big in-city schools, the alma mater of legendary record producer Quincy Jones. The Holy Names girls disembark by us and walk a block up the hill but the Bulldogs hop on for Garfield. Meanwhile, the junior high bus has been late this week because a substitute driver has taken over the route and he seems to struggle mightily with left and right turns but that’s better than last year when the school district brought drivers down from Alaska and had to first supply them with “urban driver training” which brings to mind this monochrome from exploring I did around my brother’s hometown one recent winter, when I rode the train for hours, variably back and forth from downtown not unlike the spokes of a bicycle wheel. No turns to worry about. I could never tire of riding the train in this one of America’s great cities but still I was reminded what a country mouse I am. Seattle is sort of the right size city for me. It could be just a little littler.
It was such a beautiful day, yesterday. After school, Oliver Fern was the human pendulum on the neighbors’ sidewalk swing (an improvised buoy which dangles from an overgrown small maple) for nearly an hour. He talked to himself, sang songs and made piles of leaves to bulldozer with each breezy pass while I sat on the porch and did my own daydreaming in the sunlight. Every so often he noticed me smiling at him and sheepishly waved back.
After a streak of sunshine to start November that had me feeling positively down in the dumps we enjoyed a gloomy weekend for the ages that has everything mostly all right except my sweet, rascally Oliver Fern has a case of pneumonia so that has me quite stressed and uncharacteristically seasonally depressed but he’s getting better so that’s some good news and I swear I’ll let him off the hook for the first devilish thing!
Meanwhile, this morning seemed like my last, best chance to get a halfway decent jack o’ lantern portrait and when the rain subsided I went out and got this frame. Oliver Fern carved the menacing small fellow to great affect I thought, while the heavy is the creation of his big brother.