Sunday, September 10, 2006

And in the Real World...

The bit of time I spend each day on this exercise (which is what it is to me: flexing mental muscles for real work) presents such a distorted view of life, my life and that of my life with Marge and here in Marlboro, that it seemed appropo today to touch on what is, after all, reality.

I consciously avoid getting into family matters, save for the occasional note on what Dan or Maia might be up to, in venues some of you might be able to access (hence, my noting Dan's DJ debut, his work on Head Trauma; once Maia is sharing more with me on what she's up to, or mounts another gallery show, I'll post that here, too). Marge is a school psychologist, and though we talk daily about aspects of her work and life therein, it's not suitable for airing publicly, period.

So, most of my life, per se, isn't reflected here ... by and large, it's nobody's business in the blogosphere, so I leave it at that.

Only occasionally do I get into something momentous in Marge's and my life, or my life with CCS and the community that's become so vital to me that's there -- again, usually when it's in a form you might be able to access, which brings us back to the bigger media pool, and blah blah blah.

Though I type about this media and that here -- media being the touchstone of common shared experience, or potential shared experiences in the 21st Century -- day-to-day life is composed of quieter things, and the most real of all are the occasional moments when our artifice is abandoned or falls away long enough to allow for crossing paths with the countless beings living around and with us.

I mean, like, there's our cats, Lizzie and Tuco, who most of you met the day I posted the intro to them here, with photo. But we really share this block of ground with a variety of animal and vegetable life, and that's part of the day-to-day I savor. For instance, here's a few snapshots from this month that come to mind:


* In mid August, in broad daylight, two almost-'teen' white-tail deer fawns picked their way up the hill behind our home, gingerly approaching the few berry bushes remaining on the upper edge of the hill, where our 'lawn' begins.

Both were quite adult in stature, but still had their spots -- hence my 'teen' reference, an anthropomorphism that at least conveys some aspect of their age most of you can dig -- and they were moving with the tentative steps betraying their still-fawn, not-yet-adult confidence in moving on their own as a team, only occasionally hinting at their pending maturity with a step, a look, and graceful arching of the neck to nibble at something or other at the edge of the yard.

I watched them for almost ten minutes, enchanted with the privileged view of their lives, so much a part of where we live, too, but for the most part invisible to us.

(I'll add and emphasize I was completely invisible to them, too, as this point. I made no motion or sound, and the surprise that followed had nothing to do with one or the other seeing/hearing me.)

The braver of the two was leading, the other following a good fifteen to twenty feet behind. This was fine until the bolder of the two crested the unmowed portion of our yard and made his/her (I couldn't determine gender at this stage of their growth) up and around the edge of a sizable boulder, probing and occasionally nibbling at the few remaining berries.

Now, at the moment he/she was out of line of sight of the other, the fawn following grew visibly tense: his/her body stiffened, movements became more wary and fragmented, as if something ominous were about to happen. The leader, of course, was unconscious of this change in behavior: he/she was intent on browsing and foraging.

As he came around the edge of the boulder, the following fawn caught a glimpse of the leader in the new location -- and clearly, a total disconnect had occured: once the leader had moved out of the field of sight, had seemed to disappear, the reappearance of the lead fawn from a new location seemed to indicate a "new deer" was interloping.

The follower fawn bolted erect in surprise, flagged her tail, and made an odd sound -- a sort of cough of alarm.

The lead fawn, evidently not confused at all as to who this alarmed fawn might be -- he/she had never lost track of the fact the follower fawn was still his/her brother/sister -- reacted to the follower fawn's confusion and sudden sounding/flashing of the alarm as he should: "Oh, shit, something's wrong/coming!" His body language suddenly changed, too, and he flagged with his tail and looked around, attentive in a new way entirely to his immediate surroundings.

Seeing his/her lead partner thus alarmed, the follower fawn grew more alarmed and suddenly bolted -- away from bro/sis fawn, as if he/she were the intruder to be fled from.

In response, the lead fawn also sprang from his position, also away from his/her partner fawn, and off the bound into opposite directions.

I laughed out loud. This was pretty antic stuff, if you stuck with it.

[An aside: A couple of days later, at a used bookstore in White River Jct., The Hundredth Monkey, the shop's glass-cabinet of pricey rarer used books caught my eye: there was a copy of one of the first, long-out-0f-print paperback edition of Larry Benoit's first book on deer hunting! These are rare tomes, much coveted by hunters and collectors, and of interest to me because the Benoits live in Duxbury, VT, where I grew up; I in fact was classmate from 1st grade to graduation with Lane Benoit. Just an odd coincidence, the spectacle of the two fawns and the discovery of the rare Benoit book a little later...)


* You may recall, if you're a frequent reader of this blather, I wrote one morn about finding one of our two apple trees ravaged, apparently by a bear. I still think it's a bear, and it's been back to climb and do some damage to the smaller of our two trees. We still haven't seen him, though our neighbors have on their property.


* There's a couple of chipmunks living in and under our garage, and though thus far they haven't damaged any of the stuff I've got stored on the second floor (the entire SpiderBaby backstock of Tyrant, Taboo, SpiderBaby Comix, etc.), they are now busy stashing nuts, seeds and such in nooks and crannies I'm stumbling upon while trying to get the shitheap in order before winter hits.

The mice, on the other hands, have done some damage, including destroying absolutely the last stash of Michael Zulli/Neil Gaiman Sweeney Todd color posters I had; damn it, the box ended up on its side at some point, and the little fuckers moved in, treating the rolled posters like an apartment complex. They nibbled, shit and pissed Sweeney into oblivion, and I had to toss the entire stash. Sigh.

Soon, they'll be making their way into the house; it's inevitable every fall as the cold nights assert the rodent exodus to warmer shelter. Of course, this year we have Lizzie and Tuco to tender the mice transition from this earthly realm to rodent heaven or hell (and I've no doubt our cats will make that transition as hellish as only cats can), but I spent about fifteen minutes this morning setting traps on the basement studio/office level, where the cats are verboten.


* With the rains and warm weather of this week, the amphibians -- primarily frogs and toads, though I've seen two newts, too -- are making their way to and from whereever it is they make their way to and from at summer's end. We've had some spectacular wood frogs (I mean, surprisingly massive fellows, though all are lean and spry) pop into view this past week, and while moving the last of the wood debris from my back yard to the lower-acre bonfire site (for winter burning, once the snow is deep), I turned up a corn snake that had recently shed its skin. I usually keep these skins, but this one was tattered and fragile, crumbling at the touch. The snake, though, was glistening and lively as can be.

The toads were out in force last night. As I walked between the back door of our house to the garage around 8:30 PM last night (en route to my car: I had to give an intro for Head Trauma at the Latchis in Brattleboro, ten miles away), having just put on the outside lights I'd inadvertantly scattered a number of palm-sized toads, who were hopping over our stone path. One, intent only on getting away from big ol' me, bound toward the garage door. Not wanting the little fellow to end up trapped in the garage, I picked him up and carefully set him off to the side of our stone path. He immediately leapt, in six concentreated bursts, to the garage foundation and snuggled himself in as tight as he could between boards and the mossy ground, hiding.


* After doing my stint at the Latchis, I decided to drive up to First Run Video on Putney Road for my media fix. After doing so, and chatting with Robin, Dave and everyone there, I headed home, but instead of heading north out of the driveway turned south on 5, wanting to drive through Brattleboro one more time just to vary the route.

It was still raining lightly, and at the stoplight by the entrance to the Staples plaza, I slowed down and noticed two things in the darkness:

A slightly tubby teenage boy standing over by the plaza entrance, wearing a baseball hat, was just standing and staring, strangely intent upon something in the road; then I noticed there was an absolutely huge green frog making its way across the street. It looked like it would take two hands to pick up this fellow!

The frog leaped, sat, leaped, oblivious to the traffic, but somehow crossing precisely at the stoplight.

As the light changed, I swerved slightly to avoid hitting the frog.

The boy grinned. I waved and looked behind, in my rearview mirror: more vehicles were coming.

I've no idea if the frog made it or not, but I'm sure that kid stuck around for the show.


* On the way home, on Route 9, the rain-slicked tarmac was littered with early fall leaves and a few branches. And amid all that clutter, more frogs and toads.

Some were still hopping, on their quest from whereever to whereever, all seemingly facing north; others were mere lumps and smears, already flattened by tires.

I picked my way home between them as best I could without swerving. By the time you could a glimpse of something recognizably amphibian-like in the headlights, it was too late to do anything but hope you missed 'em.


* After pulling into the driveway, the garage, and parking my car, I closed the garage door and heard something -- well, weird.

Stepping out the garage back door to walk back to our house, I heard it again, coming from the woods behind our house: an absolutely demonic wailing, sounding for all the world like a howler monkey, finally giving way to short bursts and recognizably owl-like hoots.

Immediately, another owl, audibly a bit further away, replied, echoing the pattern of howls, interrupted suddenly by the owl closer to where I stood, who amplified his shrieks to an alarming degree. Cool!

I stood and listened until the last call faded, stood still. Nothing. I quietly made my way to the back door, and went inside.

Marge was upstairs in bed already; the light on my side of the bed was still on, all of our bedroom windows were open, and Marge was laying down completely, not reading or anything, but clearly awake and a bit perturbed.

"You OK?" I asked.

"Ya, I've been listening to the show. Did you hear that racket? What was that?"

"Owls," I snickered, "just owls. Have they been at it long?"

"Jesus, yes -- they've been at it for over half-an-hour..."

"Sorry I missed the show."

And I was sorry, too. I love listening to 'em when they get going.


Later, around one this morning, I awakened by another owl, way in the distance north of our digs, hooting in the woods. There was no exchange, no cacophony, just the lone bird, sounding.

I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. I dreamed, but not of owls, or frogs, or mice or chipmunks or white-tail deer.

So, that's reality, folks -- not what I usually write about here. Just keeping some perspective, lest you think the jabber I post here is the be-all and end-all, which it sure isn't by a long shot.

Have a great Sunday, one and all. It's the first week of CCS's new semester, and my workload is pretty intensive, so I've no idea how often or if I'll be able to post this week.

We'll take it as it comes... as ever.