Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ducklings beware

I took the day off, because I wasn't feeling well, which was true. After an extended nap and then some reading on the couch I took the dog for a car ride, to cheer him up.

There are less and less leaves on the vines each day now.  The weather report says that there will be heavy winds for the week to come.  Today, they were right. The winds blew furiously, especially on the hillsides.

It is difficult to find entire vineyards that still have much color, though there are a few here and there, recognized most fully in the setting light of the sun.

I discovered some ducklings.  Barkley was as interested in them as it is possible for a puppy to be.  He stood on the shore twitching with excitement, wiggling at the shapes before him, groaning with glandular pleasure at their presence.  

Sensibly, they retired to the other side of the pond, leaving the reflection of the hills orange and behind them in their wake.

Barkley and I stood together on the shore and watched their adorable, persistent retreat.  Barkley pleading at my leg for me to do something, anything to change the course of foul wonderful nature, for his pleasure.  

I never intended to become a nature photographer, nor do I falsely believe myself to have arrived, but the world around me is picture-worthy and I get tired of lying around in my underwear reading Dostoevsky, at times.  I am still working on one that is called his masterpiece by many, "The Brothers Karamazov."  I am less than half way through.   Rachel complains that there has not yet been a murder in it.  I explained to her that all of this was written well before Freud, but my suggestive timeline did not seem to impress.  

We read the pre-existential thriller, "Crime and Punishment" two winters ago.  

I assure her that a murder, and a big one, is on the way.  

There is death and growth all around in this valley, one need only to look.  Earlier today a cluster of vultures circled the car in a remote part of the valley.  I assumed it was for the little guy, Barkley.  But who knows, perhaps taking the day off from work has sent them a celestial message and I should not have not been wandering in parts unknown, cut off from my supply of firearms, stinking of delicious death.  

Vultures and buzzards are only partially scavengers.  They will gladly kill and eat a cute little puppy.  They are recognized firstly as birds of prey, hunting in flocks, and known only secondly as scavengers, when necessary to be so.  Buzzards hunt alone, or in pairs, vultures are quite group-minded when it comes to food.

I committed to arranging the rest of our day-trip in such a way that nobody would eat, or be eaten. 

Well, not entirely true...  I had grilled steak and peppers with sautéed chard when I got home.  I am drinking a bottle of wine as I write this.  So somebody would certainly eat before the day was over, and somebody else, unknown, would be eaten.  My apologies, universe.  I only wish to live, firstly, and then to live well secondarily. 

The picture below is also a bird of prey, though not a vulture.  I couldn't tell what it was, though it flew quite close to me, and was much larger than this picture alone suggests. I assumed it was a hawk rather than a falcon, from the shape of the wings being less v-shaped in flight, though in truth I know very little about such things.  I will research this and get back with you.

We stood on top of a windy hill in south Napa and looked east out across San Pablo Bay.  For that moment I didn't feel like we were any percentage of anything, either known or unknown.  Not going to work can occasionally do that for the spirit.  Tomorrow I will begrudgingly return to whatever percentage I happen to be, slowly inching upwards, taking my place in line.  Perhaps the metric system would serve better for this example, I might only be millimetering up.  Or downwards, into a yet unknown number... who knows, really.  

Maybe there's a whole group of percenters out there that are working hard and making more and more money each year, ever scavenging, always attacking, prepared to strike from above, circling in the skies around us, searching for puppies to devour, growing stronger with each bite, and every nibble....

Ducklings beware.