Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Pandemic Files, Chapter 1

It’s been kind of a slow week at the Farr chateau. Went to the grocery store the other day; they were all out of eggs, and now I’m thinking the corner of our front yard that butts up against our neighbor’s wood-panel fence (probably put up so he doesn’t have to be reminded of my lack of landscaping skills), that front corner would be a great area to raise some free-range chickens.

While you’re reading this, I’m sitting on the front porch in an old blue metal chair, drinking a cup of coffee, looking at the corner and yes, I do believe a handful of happy hens could produce a plethora of perfect eggs, enough to eliminate extemporaneous expeditions in search of the aforesaid currently unavailable food item.

(I know, I know. It’s way too early in the year for alliteration and big words.)

Hey look! A squirrel.

One advantage of being pert-near vegetarian is there’s never a crowd trying to buy chickpeas or Portobello mushroom caps. And you never, ever hear someone saying, “They’re out of tofu? What is this world coming to?” because there’s always plenty of tofu to go around. Soft, firm, extra firm, it doesn’t matter – just take a fork and scramble the tofu all up, and if you squint your eyes and use every last bit of your imagination, it might just look and taste like eggs.

No, it doesn’t. I’m lying.

If I had a coop full of chickens working overtime to produce dozens of beautiful eggs, you know what I’d do with them? Well, I’d eat them, of course. But the ones I didn’t eat, I’d share them with you. Yes, you! And you wanna know why? Because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Help each other. Someone needs a ride to work, you pick them up. Someone’s dog dies from old age, you help bury it. You feed the hungry, comfort the sick, offer a light to those who are in the dark – a shoulder, a smile, a laugh, and maybe even some extra rolls of toilet paper, if you got ‘em.

Did you know that without squirrels we wouldn’t have toilet paper? Squirrel finds nut, squirrel buries nut, squirrel can’t remember where he buried his nut, nut grows into tree, man comes along and chops down tree, lumber mill magically turns it into toilet paper, squirrel doesn’t care because he doesn’t use the stuff.

Next time you’re in the store picking up a package of Quilted Northern Ultra Plus toilet paper that has the strength and softness you can count on, thank a squirrel.

I just read a “treatise” on squirrels (located on the Mother Nature Network website) that describes squirrels as being “furry little forest ambassadors, using parks and backyards as their urban embassies.” That explains why we celebrate Squirrel Appreciation Day every 21st of January.

I guess we missed it. Sorry.

During this crazy time of holing up in our homes until someone says we can come out and play, I’m thankful for being able to sit on my porch with a cup of coffee, think about chickens, and watch the squirrels play “tag, you’re it” from tree to shining tree. That’s just the cards life has dealt me; has dealt us all. So, don’t fret too much, help others, scrub your hands with soap and water, and take time out of your day to go watch some squirrels.

Maybe even encourage them to go and bury more nuts.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Another stroll around the neighborhood

I have a good idea who the mockingbird is mocking as I pass him on my morning walks.

“Come here. Come here, you silly thing. See what I can do. Come fly with me above the trees. You can’t? Ha ha ha.

But I don’t speak mockingbird. It’s all music to my ears. Beethoven, Mozart, Dylan, Sting, Lyle Lovett alighting on tree limbs to enthrall the audience, then back into the air and onto the next gig. Tomorrow San Antonio, next week Denver.

On the road again, I always wonder what a ‘possum is contemplating as it wobbles by.

Probably: “Just keep moving, moving – wait a minute – what light through yonder nightfall breaks? It looks like two suns, and I am but potential roadkill unless I keep moving, moving – wow, that was a close call – moving, moving, moving.”

It’s possible ‘possums are sharper than they appear, but you never know.

I imagine a tree, after sucking up as much nutrients as it can from the soil below, takes a twinkling to catch its breath then turns to its neighbor and whispers, “See, I told you I could chug-a-lug just as good as those young cedars. Looks like the next round is on you, bucko.”

Have you ever noticed that trees are always whispering? It makes me wonder what they’re saying behind my back. More than likely: “Look. Only four limbs. How sad.”

Sometimes when I walk around the block, a small little yappy dog sneaks up on me from behind; yap, yap, yapping up a storm with a bark three times its own bite, making my heart beat a whole lot faster than it was a second before, which is probably good for my health, as long as I survive my ankles being mauled.

“I got’cha, I got’cha, I got’cha; just slow down an itsy-bitsy bit and I’ll bite that ankle clear off,” I can just hear it yapping. “Your meat might be a bit old and tough, but I won’t know until you stop moving and you’re down on the ground, yeppity-yep-yep.”

It’s best to just keep walking because once you’re down on the ground, you’re only inviting trouble from the circling scavengers up above.

VULTURE 1: So, what do you wanna do?
VULTURE 2: I don’t know, what do YOU wanna do?
VULTURE 1: He might be playing ‘possum, so let’s give him a couple of days.
VULTURE 2: Sounds good to me.

I don’t see Death as some hooded dude standing behind me holding a scythe. Death to me is a middle-aged, overweight white guy, lounging on the couch watching reruns of “Wheel of Fortune.” He’s always trying to get me to “come sit down. You’ll love this episode. I’ll even share my pizza with you. No? Well, you go on your little walk. I’ll wait for you right here. I’ve got some time to kill.”

The other day on my “little walk,” I saw a squirrel turning the tree limbs above my head into its own personal superhighway. Climb, climb, climb, up and over, take the next exit – don’t look down – jump to the next tree going one way, my way, jump again, higher and higher, never touch the ground, and around – now hide.

I imagine a squirrel’s thinking process is simple: “Find a nut, hide a nut, climb a tree, contemplate the existence of dark matter throughout the known universe, go find more nuts.”

Walking is good for the heart, good for the soul, good for waving at your neighbors as they drive by heading to work or the grocery store. Walking gives you the time to ask yourself who you really are, and what’s your purpose in this old world. Better yet, it gives you the time to make up whatever answers suit you best.