24 March, 2019 “The world is full of injustice”
My friend Mark and I were weighing his salad at Kroger in Carytown this week when Secret Agent Man began playing on the store audio network. Mark is a walking musical encyclopedia and he triumphantly blurted “Johnny Rivers!” . We’ve been friends for fifteen years; he does that a lot. I’ll continue the story at the end of this post.
The light’s been lovely most of the week and Spring is waking up all over central Virginia. The sky’s been blue and it’s warming up. But to keep me from getting my hopes up too much regarding Spring, I looked at a post from April of last year – not even twelve months ago – that has a picture of freshly fallen snow on my car on April 8. Feel free to look at the blog post yourself, from Sunday, April 8, 2018 at Flying over the hoods of cars. But whatever it did last April or will do this April, I saw this lovely Brown-headed nuthatch on the dogwood tree in our front yard Tuesday:
And the camellia on the northwest corner of our house is blooming so vibrantly you could almost call it garish:
I noted my first osprey sighting of 2019 in last week’s only marginally coherent blog post, Incoherent. Barring something completely unexpected, there will be ospreys on that nest until at least August. I wish I knew the timeline for an osprey nest. They returned last week and I presume made the nest ready for eggs. I also presume the pair have mated. I think that’s roughly step two, and step three is laying eggs. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is my favorite birding resource and they have a detailed page for every bird. Or at least every bird in North America. On the osprey page under “eggs” it says “Egg-Laying Generally soon (1–3 d, sometimes longer) after nest takes shape and nest-lining added.” So presumably there are eggs on that nest. It goes on to say that the average incubation period is 37 days, or slightly over five weeks. I first saw them on 3/13. That means there might reasonably be eggs hatching by the week beginning 4/15. I was surprised to learn it takes them 50 – 55 days (seven or eight weeks) to fledge after hatching. So they’d be flying off that nest – we’ll see – between about June 5 and June 12. But if they hatch on 4/15 (as I’m guessing), I think it’ll be at least a week before I can see their heads above the edge of the nest from the ground. Might be closer to 5/1. I’ll watch – this is fun already.
I’m still not swear-on-a-stack-of-bibles certain which is the male and which is the female. I’ll continue to work at figuring it out. It doesn’t seem like it should be that hard.
Anyway, on Wednesday (3/20), one of the pair (I’m guessing the male) caught a simply enormous fish and carried it up to the top. Look at the size of this fish compared to the size of the bird. Think about what it took for him to catch that fish underwater and fly all the way up there while he carried it. He’s a powerhouse:
Presumably this is his mate on the nest to the left:
That camellia at the top of this post is a bright, cheerful, fun loving (appearing) flower, but they don’t have much scent. I’ve seen outdoor gardenias bloom before – there will be some on the side of Cary street near Fresca soon – but ours for the time being are indoors. This smell is first in line in the “flowers that smell outstanding” category; there are not enough superlatives to do justice to gardenias:
I hadn’t been seeing much in the way of deer at Pony Pasture recently, but there was one lying quietly in the woods today when we were on our return walk. This deer was lying down watching us for a long time when we first got there. The dogs were unconcerned. She (possibly a he with no antlers, but I think it’s a she) was also unconcerned. But eventually she stood up. I took pictures for more than ten minutes and she never left. She watched, watched, watched, but didn’t waste valuable energy (calories) moving away from a threat the didn’t exist:
I took the last picture of her at 1:03 then walked back to the car and loaded up – that takes a decent amount of time. But it was precisely 31 minutes later, at 1:34, when I took my first picture (today) of a male Red-tail on a tower near my house. His crop (stomach) was full; he was just going to enjoy the sun and view for a while. He probably has to bring food back to his mate – assuming she’s on the nest with eggs. Though I have no idea where their nest is. He’s a handsome guy though. I got greedy and zoomed in from too long a distance; this picture is a little grainy:
It was ~55º and sunny with a soft breeze; Mackey and Turner and Yuki would have it that way every day if they could. Pony Pasture’s northern boundary is the river and its eastern boundary is the creek that separates it from the Willow Oaks Country Club golf course. So there’s a muddy, shaded little beach right there at the northeast corner. It’s roughly the half way mark on our walk and we like to take a little break there when it’s not too flooded. In this picture, if Mackey looked to his left across the creek, he’d be able to see the cart path up the hill, and behind it the green for the four hundred yard par four fourth hole. But I’m a dog person not a golf person, so here are the boys this morning:
Before I send you off with my fun experience with Mark this week, I’ll close the pictures with one I took of a flower display Ev created in our mostly south facing kitchen windowsill. If you’re talking about a plant that can compete with a gardenia in the smell category, hyacinths are certainly in that conversation. Evelyn cut all these from our yard. The hyacinths are purple. The others are samples of the wide variety of daffodils Evelyn has blooming all over our yard:
Enjoy this blog post! Enjoy this story! Enjoy your week! Come back next week!
Oops! Almost left out this Brown Thrasher from Wednesday!:
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The world is full of injustice
A tall, slender young woman in a Kroger uniform with two distinctly different colors of hair (top ½ black, bottom ½ bright magenta, not unlike our camellia) was spraying the cash registers and wiping them with a terry cloth rag that may have been white when the store opened six hours earlier. She’d just heard Mark blurt out “Johnny Rivers!” She looked up at the speakers on the ceiling then looked at me and said “my whole life, I never knew who sang that song until just now. I learned something new today!” I just smiled and said Mark knows pretty much every song. And if he doesn’t know, he wants me to use an app on my phone to find out.
So anyway we sit down and Mark eats his salad and drinks either an A&W root beer or an orange Crush™. We’ve eaten lunch together every week for fifteen years; that’s all he ever gets. Sometimes Hawaiian Punch in the summer. After Mark finishes eating and drinking and cleaning up, we go back to the front register to get a Reese’s Peanut butter cup. Fifty-two Wednesdays a year. He watches this “vintage 80’s Reese’s Peanut butter cup commercial” every week. Every week he is delighted – it never fails – and shouts “Mmm! Delicious!” in unison with the stylishly dressed (for the 1980’s) couple on the commercial. They’re each listening to Walkmans™ which is why they didn’t hear each other coming. Mark picks up his one candy bar, and I ask him which register he wants to go to. His selection process is opaque to me; I can never predict. This week he chose one where a favorite cashier of his works. Other people must like her too; the line was long and getting longer.
Anyway, we stepped to the rear of the line, Mark with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in hand. A man around my age with a cart overflowing with groceries was directly in front of us. He saw Mark’s candy bar and said “Just one candy bar? Is that all you guys are getting? Why don’t you go ahead of me.”
I see acts of kindness of this variety without fail; it’s rare that a day goes by without one, and a week never does. My positive view of human nature is shaped more strongly by my day to day interactions with other actual human beings than it is by what I hear on the radio or read in the newspaper. I also enjoy the indescribably broad range of interpersonal experiences I come across almost every day. They’d make great fiction, except they really happen, and some of them – like Wednesday’s, IMO – are so unlikely, even a good fiction writer couldn’t make them up.
Anyway, the guy’s outgoing and kind, and I tell him about our experience a few moments earlier, listening to Secret Agent Man and the girl learning for the first time who sang it. And the guy looks me in the eye – we’ve known each other for like thirty seconds, standing there in line at Kroger – and says “Do you know Johnny Rivers is not even in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?” He lets that sink in for a minute, then looks despondently at the floor and says “The world is full of injustice.”
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