AMATEUR NATURALIST

Halloween morning

A blue jay steals food and shouts about it late in October.
A blue jay steals food and shouts about it late in October.
Posted Oct. 30, 2011, at 10:06 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 31, 2011, at 12:34 p.m.

I get out of bed and make coffee, then sit in front of the computer.

I spend much of the morning complaining to two friends. They seem to understand what I say. They are a dying breed, and they live hundreds of miles away. Why do they listen to this crap?

I stump around the kitchen rounding up my jacket and shoes. Outside it’s chilly and overcast. The ash and poplar at the head of the driveway are gray skeletons. Blue jays are screeching about nothing from the bare branches.

I walk down the driveway. It is exactly one-tenth of a mile from the head of the driveway by the house to the mailboxes on the road. On the way I think about at least six things I wish were going differently in my life.

At the road, three tractor-trailer trucks roar past trying to blow me down the embankment. I keep my footing. I pull the newspaper out of its box and two magazines and an AARP flier out of their box. No one at our house ordered these magazines or reads them.

I walk back down the driveway with my hands shoved in my jeans pockets and the papers tucked under my arm. I stop near the brook and look into the woods. The floor is carpeted with copper-colored oak and maple leaves. A trick of movement catches my eye 60 or 70 feet in among the bare trees. I stare between the trunks as far as I can.

The ground is a series of leaf-covered ocean waves and troughs. Here and there a gray boulder. Not a bird. Not a squirrel. Not a deer. Nothing.

A thousand years ago, Indians looked into these woods. They saw maples, oaks, cedars, birches and fallen leaves. I do not see what they saw.

I amble back down the driveway. Two huge pines, a huge oak and a huge old red maple loom over everything on the right. Every morning for years and years they have loomed there.

The heating unit outside the house is humming. I hope it will last the winter.

The blue jays are picking at the bird feeder in the sumac. This feeder has not been disassembled by raccoons in weeks, that’s a plus.

Inside, I drop the paper goods on the kitchen table. I take off my jacket and hang it on a chair. On the back step, blue jays are stealing morsels out of the cats’ dish. Beautiful bright blue nasty-ass angels. Azure asuras. Loud-mouthed occidental tourists.

That’s a little better. Despite being bullies the blue jays almost always have a good word.

I sit down in front of the computer. From on top of a stack of books, Edgar Allan Poe peers skeptically past my right shoulder. Eureka! Words live.

Dana Wilde’s collection of Amateur Naturalist and other writings, “The Other End of the Driveway,” is available electronically and in paperback from Booklocker.com.

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