21 February, 2016 Life goes on
My mom recalls me living in a box. One of my siblings wrote “Didn’t you once spend a night in jail for punching someone?” Reactions to my last blog post were varied. We all have different memories. Thirty years is a long time. Life goes on. More at the end of this thin blog post.
I drafted this post with the title “Slim pickings” because I have had yet another un-brilliant week photographically. Things were so bleak today that when I went in the grocery store, these daffodils were the brightest things I’d seen since I woke up. I could not resist:
But our first hyacinths are nudging their way out of the ground. Hopefully next week they’ll be showier. Here’s what they looked like today when we got home from the river:
It was warm and breezy and overcast this morning when Evelyn and Mackey and Turner and Yuki and I hiked at Pony Pasture. There are lots of Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) calling now. This is how they sounded in the field at Pony Pasture this morning. Spoiler alert – there are no actual pictures of Spring Peepers visible in this video. Only their inimitable sound, quite possibly the signature first sound of Spring in this area. The birds won’t go into full song for a couple more weeks:
This was about five minutes walk later in the woods. Same sound, different background:
Although they’re amphibians, Spring Peepers can stand temperatures down to around 20º Fahrenheit for five days. Which is a good thing since it will probably turn cold again!
I don’t think the third week in February qualifies as Spring in anyone’s definition. But if you’re paying close attention, it’s approaching steadily. We could get another harsh cold snap or even more snow, but the weather’s improving. In late December, the sun was only up for about nine and a half hours. Tomorrow it will be up for over eleven hours.
Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) aren’t migratory in this area, but you don’t see them every day. So it still surprised me to see one flicking through a lawn near DS Freeman High School Friday morning when I was on my way to work. Flickers are woodpeckers, but my main bird guide (Cornell Lab of Ornithology Birds of North America Online) refers to it as a “primarily ground-foraging woodpecker.” Which explains its placement in this image:
Thursday as my friend Ethan and I were driving past Freeman HS, four Red-tails flew over! That’s the second time in 2016 I’ve looked up in that area and seen four Red-tails. Two landed on the tower and we took a couple of pictures but they were in shadow and the light wasn’t great. They stayed up there, and we drove around to the opposite side, where they were in full sun. Suddenly – I’ve never seen one do this before – one of the Red-tails swooped down and landed in a tree next to the street where we were parked! It was on Ethan’s side and the window was open. So I handed him the camera and he took this excellent shot:
Way to go Ethan!
The story at the end of last week’s blog post prompted a few memories from some of my family members. It was a long time ago and our memories have diverged a bit – but just a bit. Too bad my dad is not here to weigh in. Here’s a brief addition to last week’s story.
Until next week (hopefully with better photography),
Life goes on
My mom recalled me living in a cardboard box following my untimely exit from the cushy dormitory life at VCU. My sister recalled that I spent “a night in jail for punching someone,” though she did question her own memory. I recalled living in a very, very run down section of Richmond at that time – my options, in hindsight, were narrowed a great deal by the bad choices I’d made. The house, or the room, where I lived on West Main Street in the Fan, had no closet. Which seems strange, as I recall. But I have a very crisp recollection of using a large box for my closet. I think that’s where mom got the memory of me living in a cardboard box. But who is to say these many years later. No high definition cell phone photography way back then.
I was still working in the VCU Cafeteria when I left the dorms. I was a “student manager” and I had to wear a shirt and tie to work. So my shirts had to hang on hangers in a closet. Next door to my new apartment was a florist. And they’d leave empty flower boxes out in the alley at night, boxes that I assume once held long-stemmed roses. Because they were tall, sturdy cardboard boxes, lined with sprayed in styrofoam. Evelyn wondered if they’d smelled like roses. They didn’t, but they did smell like a cold greenhouse. Fresh, for lack of a more precise adjective, and very plant-like and alive. Not flowery, not precisely, but like the smell of photosynthesis, if there is such a thing. Like a freshly cut lawn, only not as grassy.
Memory is imprecise – so imprecise – but I recall the boxes being maybe 36” long by 18” by 18”. Open on one of the long sides; that’s where the people in the store took the roses out. Or so I imagined. I stood the box on its end and cut a hole in each side of the box and put a stick through it and voilà – a place to put my shirts on hangers.
I was not by any means living large in that era – I’m happy I made it through unscathed. Between Camp and the cabin, I’d learned that it didn’t take much to get by. Since I worked at the cafeteria I had all the food I wanted. Although my apartment was run down – I had to use a box for a closet – I had a safe place to sleep at night, and at that time, that was plenty. It’s funny that a few decades later I’d take the dogs hiking on the Appalachian Trail and spend the night out – with about the same level of surplus stuff.
I’ve got more surplus stuff now (this computer, for instance) but I like living on a slender budget. But – true story – my closets now are excellent, I don’t use boxes any more. And I have cedar hangers – they’re just fantastic.
Have a great week!