Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ida Comes Calling

We are all warm winds and driving rain today as what's left of Hurricane Ida makes herself felt. She'll be here today and tomorrow, another house guest, less welcome than the ones to whom we've just bid farewell, but here for a shorter time. Since we can't work outside on anything, a big chunk of computer time is available. And that leads me to some random musings.

I was recently found on Facebook by one of the boys who made my first couple years of high school (high school for me was grades 8-12) a living hell. He actually "friended" me. Like all bullies, he appears totally oblivious to the havoc he wrought all those years ago, and comes to me all friendly-like. I took him up on the friend offer just so I could take a look at what he considers worth sharing about his life today. There he is, those familiar features now encased in rolls of fat, smiling out at me, the happy grandfather. His interests and his politics are the polar opposites of mine, which is not surprising. I'm pondering taking the opportunity to thank him for teaching me some important lessons in life--patience and perseverence in the face of extreme unpleasantness being the most important--but will likely instead simply ignore him. Still, it was a shock to get the message, and interesting how those ancient insults to the soul still resonate. It's also remarkable to reflect on how far behind I have left that life and those people.

We bought a canoe! One of the houses we pass every day on our drive to the property suddenly had this shiny red number in the driveway with a For Sale sign attached. It's a fiberglass 2001 model in very good shape, and we got it for less than half of what it would cost new. The creek we're on is ideal for a canoe and we had been toying with the idea of getting one, especially since Gary, our builder, actually designed a large, overhead space in our garage specifically for hanging a canoe. So now we can fill the space. Can't wait to take her on her maiden Lunker's Creek voyage. A canoe was pretty far down on our list of needs/nice to haves, but when you're faced with a deal like that.....

This is harvest time. The ubiquitous soy and cotton fields we pass everywhere in this part of the state are beyond ready to be relieved of their burdens, and little by little they are being emptied by combines and their fruit hauled away. Farmers actually defoliate (and kill) the plants in order to prepare them for picking, making it easier for the machines to do their work. And we're learning that mechanical harvesting is a labor-saving but inefficient process--right after picking, there seem to be as many cotton bolls left in the fields and scattered by the side of the roads as there are packed in tractor-trailer sized bales, and the birds are enjoying a bonanza of fallen dried soybeans.

And speaking of birds: lately there is amazing activity among the starlings here. Thousands upon thousands of them are flocking, flying in a westerly direction in the mornings and then coming back eastward at dusk. They stop to rest in the trees surrounding the property and create a racket that requires you to raise your voice to be heard. I've checked the obvious websites, including the Cornell bird program, to find out what's going on, but so far have come up dry. Since starlings have colonized the entire continent, there isn't much migration really going on. So what gives? Maybe they're flying from soy field to soy field, gorging during the day and returning to their home roosts at night? Whatever it is, Alfred Hitchcock's imagination had nothing on this spectacle.

Collards and hamhocks for dinner tonight. Yum! Am I in the South or what?

14 comments:

Peggy said...

Hi Ralph! First, I love starlings, althoug it seems you just may have too many around.

Funny about the contact on FB. It is funny the people who will try and contact you. I'm waiting for a blast from the past to hit me. No one yet, though! Mark and I did have a friend contact us from about 25 years ago or so, I cannot remember. Nice guy. I found that interesting, but it's nice to see what he's been up to.


I love the canoe story. Oh, that should be a lot of fun! Can't wait to hear about those adventures!


Always enjoy your blog! Dinner sounds good!!!!

Cuidado said...

About the starlings. This is called a murmuration. This Youtube video will explain it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XH-groCeKbE&feature=player_embedded#at=11

Zoey and Me said...

Yup! That for sure is a sign you in the South "boy". I used to love our canoe trips down here in Florida till the bugs took over. Don't know when but back in the 90's it wasn't so much fun being on the inland rivers and streams. The bugs ate me alive. I sold my canoe when we closed on the house. I agree with your FB dilemna, if in fact, it is one. I was found by an old girlfriend from York High School who I never got serious with only to find out 42 years later . . . SHE WAS. Blamed me for her entire rotten life. So be careful. I now consider each person from the past with trepidation. Glad it took Ida to keep you inside long enough to post today. And that widget in the left margin doesn't work for me. Go to my blog and see how people are added as followers. See if that might be easier to use for working stiffs like me.

Ralph said...

Hi, Peggy. Speaking as an former and soon-to-be-again bird feeder, I thought starlings were a nuisance because they horned in on everybody else, especially stealing other birds' nests, which I didn't like. But they are very funny in a birdbath. They splash around and are definitely having fun. I forgave them their faults after watching that.

I've had plenty of very pleasant blasts from the past of FB, but this was the first one that wasn't especially welcome, even if the guy in question is acting pleasant enough. I didn't need him in my life then and I don't now....

Ralph said...

Cuidado, thank you so much for that beautiful video. It corroborates what we had theorized, that the birds are commuting to and from feeding grounds. While we do see thousands of birds, at this stage in the flyway they have not yet coalesced into those enormous psychedelic clouds--we're still getting just individual flocks. But it does say to me that a real murmuration is taking place somewhere nearby, and I'd love to find it.

Ralph said...

Srry the bloglines widget didn't work, Z&M. I know a bout the blogger follower one, but have resisted putting up because a) I didn't want to clutter up the blog any more and b) I really thought by bow everyone who wanted to subscribe had found a way to. I'll see what I can do. How did you find this post? Just blind luck?

Mim said...

Ralph,
You posted! Yeah. A southern meal for sure.
And a canoe-how wonderful for you both that will be when your housebuilding and moving are behind you.
Amazing how those feelings can resurface from h.s. days especially the bullying, mean kind.
I know that oblivious behavior stuns me to, as to how one behaved in the past.
I loved the description of him you gave.
The rain is hitting us here in central VA as well, although I'm sure you are much warmer there.

Ralph said...

Hi, Mim. Yes, the canoe will be a great alternative to the pontoon boat when we just feel like lazing along the shoreline of the creek instead of going all the way out to the sound. Some friends said they'd bring their inflatable kayak when they came to visit, which also sounds really fun.

The collards were delicious. And there's tons more of 'em growing in the fields here!

It is fairly warm here, in the 60s, but with the wind blowing so there's still a bit of a chill in the air. So far, with all the rain, the new house, which is surrounded by wetlands, hasn't floated away!

Linda - SE PA said...

Hi...

Your commentary arrived as I was thinking... mmm, longish time in not hearing from Ralph and wondered how everything was - and there you were!

The canoe sounds heavenly - I picure gliding, peacefully down a river listening to nature. It is a dream of mine to take a barge vacation. Cruising and fine dining as well as short trips on land. This is what came to mind as I considered what to say about the canoe.

So how close is it to completion?

Ralph said...

Linda, it's nice to hear from you. Your barge fantasy would actually have been possible in Delaware, where everything is so small and close you can take a leisurely water trip to a nice lunch, say. Here, the water is relatively huge and there's no place to call a destination. We could take 90-minute boatrides into a couple of the local towns, but there's nothing to do once you get there--not even public boat slips. So a canoe ride will be strictly to enjoy nature and be close to the water, which is good enough. The good food will be at our house.

We're hoping for February occupancy.

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

I´ve experienced the opposite To Your old bully. We had one guy that was the bukky in our class. He was nasty one time towards me, that´s all. But when we met years later he almost begged me for forgivness! he talked to every one that he had been nasty towards begging for forgivness. So sometimes they actully remembers how bad they could be.

Since the starlings doesn´t migrate over at Yours, they do as You write. They fly from place to place eating all they can and by the evening they return "home". It´s much the same with Jack daws over here.
Have a great day now!
Christer.

Ralph said...

Interesting about your bukky, Christer. I guess there's hope that these people who were once idiots can learn some lessons in life...

Nan said...

The exact reason why I am not on facebook. Who needs to meet those people again. Ever. Sorry for your upset.

Ralph said...

Actually Nan, it's turned out to be kind of nice. The bully appears to have either completely forgotten his crimes or to be trying to atone for them. He's become a social lubricator of sorts, actively sending all sorts of well-liked but long lost people my way. If he uses FB the way most of us do, he's read my info and knows who I am now, and it hasn't fazed him. It's a good lesson for me.