Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

It's Friday morning. Thank God the week is over. Better get to work for an early morning meeting.
You want to do WHAT? Remember what happened the last time?
Another satisfied customer.
After a difficult week, hubby is taking me out to dinner. Only the best restaurant will do on this special day. Only the table with the finest, hand-printed linens will do.
I can almost taste the the fine wine on my tongue..... "Romeo" takes our order.
Hubby relaxing over a glass of Merlot and a hand chop.
My favorite h'orderve is on the menu. (Where's the toe cracker?)
But a sinus headache is coming on.
Time for bed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall and Friends

Autumn is my favorite season of the year. As much as spring is new and exciting, there is something about fall that is full of secrets and tender promises. It was impossible to stay indoors yesterday so the camera and I went on an outing to Sklyands Manor, New Jersey's botanical gardens.
The place was crawling with photographers, all with the same idea....
These are the leaves we welcomed in spring.
Who could resist walking through this doorway?
Bird food on the hoof.
This is where I spend my birthday meditations. A crossroad, a simple fence and thousands of invisible lives going about their day.
You can taste it, can't you?
Like the squirrels, I have a desire to build my larder and fluff my nest against the coming cold.

As I was driving the loop one last time, I saw a big horse trailer picking its way into the rutted parking lot. From the careful way the driver was maneuvering, I knew there was a full load inside. Behind it were a stream of cars with the riders and their gear. Shortly afterward, I met up with an old friend:
Quarterback! My mount from when I was taking lessons from Elite Equine!
Sara, the trainer, aboard Quarterback.
Some friends from the barn ready for a trail ride.
Too bad that's not me.
Happy trails!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Mom Voice

I returned from a walk around the lake and was going to fulfill a promise of an afternoon nap, but was feeling refreshed and invigorated after the exercise. What perked me up at the end was putting a halt to the next California wildfire in the hills of New Jersey at the hands of a teenage boy a mere block from my house. (What is it with teenage boys and fire?)

I had just turned the corner onto my street when I smelled the acrid scent of woodsmoke, which was not alarming since everyone with a fireplace had them cranked up. The problem was the smell and the great pouf of smoke that came with it was not coming from someone’s chimney, but from behind two white pines.

I peeked behind the trees to see a merry little blaze crackling in the neighbor’s backyard. It was just a pile of sticks purloined from someone’s winter wood stash but the flames were already a foot high. There was no fireplace, no protective walls or bricks, just a pile of wood and the sunny flames of trouble. The neighbor’s shed was a few feet away.

A tall boy stumbled out of the house with an aluminum cauldron and placed it on the ground next to the fire. He put another stick on the pile and spoke to someone in the shed.

“It’s ready.”

The flames danced and whirled in the wind. The boy pulled his pot away from the heat. No adults were around. The house was dark. The usual cars were not in the driveway.

Well, I sighed. Time to spoil this kid’s fun.

I stepped forward.

“That’s not a good idea,” I said, using my “mom voice.” Not having kids has not prevented me from having one of these. It really means, “I am not asking your permission and you don’t have a choice in what is going to happen next but I will give you a chance to make it look like it does.”

“What?” the kid said. “It’s just a little fire. And I have water here.” He pointed to the cauldron.

“First of all,” I said, “Building an open fire like that is against the law. Second, you have it between two trees and the shed. Little fires go out of control quickly, especially in wind like this. That little bucket of water is nothing. Use it now to put that fire out, please.

And I stood there.

The kid turned his back to me. I stayed there for one minute, then two, fingering the cell phone in my pocket. The wind kicked up. The fire flared again.

Finally, the boy turned around to look at me, realizing I was not going away. Scowling, he picked up the water container and doused the flames.

This is not the first time I have stopped kids from playing with fire. Just what are they thinking?

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Cape May Sunset

My last night in Cape May. The sunset was coming on perfectly. Funny how people gather to the beach every night anywhere in the world to witness this. It's a phenomenon as ancient as the earth. You'd think we'd be tired of it be now. But have you noticed how quiet people are while while watching the sun slip away, splaying crimson and gold over the sand? Have you noticed that wherever you stand, that last spear of light seems to stretch to your own lucky feet?
Is that how God is?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cape May-From the Hawk Watch

More stories from Cape May:
I spent most of my brief time in Cape May at the Hawk Watch to view the falcons, hawks and eagles streaming past. While standing on the platform I noticed a man who seemed oblivious to any other human being and did not conform to the socially acceptable standards of how to conduct yourself in a quiet crowd of birders. He had a good scope, and to see the Broadwings soaring higher and higher in the Cape May blue sky, he would tilt the barrel of the scope vertically, then slam both his feet one after the other until he had himself spread-eagled beneath the tripod. His entire body was immersed in the exercise of his passion.

I was reluctant to point out that his tripod was not telescoped out to it fullest height, nor was the central rod which would have added to his ergonomic comfort. As soon as he saw a bird through that scope he would gasp: "Wow! Wow! Wow!" Then, he scooped up the scope and ran to the other side of the platform and slam! slam! his feet under the tripod and repeat the drama.

Nothing else existed in these moments for this man. Odd glances his way, attempts to help him adjust his equipment went unheeded.

I understand.

Cooper's Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk

Turkey Vulture
Palm Warbler


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Stories from Cape May-Brigantine

It's been months since I have visited Brigantine (aka Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge). The meandering boardwalk on the right side of the dirt road after you pay your fee is gone now, victim of storms and replaced by a perfunctory walkway that ends almost as soon as it begins. The tide was coming in, just my luck. The birds were moving a zillion miles away, too far for my birding scope, too far for the photographers with the gigundo lenses. But as I crept along the truncated walkway, my birder's eye caught some motion in the muck. A Nashville Warbler!
On the other side of the rail, I glanced down at the swirling water where hundreds of crabs were lurching around sideways, all brandishing that enormous CLAW. How they lug these things around is beyond me; it would be like having an oak tree for your right arm. You would have to hoist it across the front of your body wherever you go, and wherever you go, there it is. The opposite "arm" is teensy weensy , consigned to pick through the mud for food, like snacking on Fritos at a football game.
The Least Terns were busy slashing through the wind and diving into the water for their food.
I was beginning to think my birding visit to "Brig" was a bit boring until I spotted this Peregrine Falcon loafing on a snag in the muck. I pointed it out to other birder/drivers passing by but no one stopped. Please do not tell me we are already jaded by the sight of a Peregrine....
While eating my own lunch at a picnic bench back at the visitor center, I was already wondering what to have for dinner and where I would get it once arriving in Cape May. Maybe I would forage like the crabs, and frisk up my right arm to amble sideways down the Acme aisle, and use my left hand to dainty among the lettuces....
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