One time, at Thanksgiving my whole family pitched in with making Thanksgiving dinner.  I got the job of making the mashed potatoes.  I love mashed potatoes with huge lumps in them.  They give great texture and a more potatoey flavor.  I asked if I could make them that way and everybody said “are your nuts?  Nobody does that.”  Me being me, always taking my own path, I said, “What if I make a lumpy batch for you to taste and you’ll see what I mean?”  I was given clear instructions to make the normal, creamy mashed potatoes, which I am very good at and I could also make a small lumpy batch.  So that is what I did.  Nobody liked the lumpy potatoes, not one person.  I ate them all myself. 

       I always walk my own path and I did it again that day.  Such is life.  Oh well.

 

       One time I saw a TV show where Indians said that rocks are alive.  In fact, the whole planet is alive.  I couldn’t see how that could be.  After all, a rock is a rock, right? 

       I’m an avid hiker and there were huge amounts of beautiful granite rocks and outcroppings where I grew up.  I loved scampering over and around them, never giving any thought as to whether they were alive or not.  After all, they were just rocks, right?  Over time they grew on me.  They were so beautiful.  They were magnificent.  They were majestic.  They became my friends.  I loved placing my hands on them, just feeling the energy they emitted.  I attributed that to a scientific, electromagnetic source or something.  After all, they were just rocks, right?

       Then one day I was in a big city downtown area.  It had huge skyscrapers.  I looked up and was amazed.  I placed my hands on a skyscraper wall and expected to feel that energy being emitted like I did with the rocks.  I looked forward to the thrill of that.  NOTHING!  THERE WAS NOTHING.  NO FEELING AT ALL.  NO EMITTING OF ENERGY.  IT WAS COLD!  COLD AND – DEAD!  YES DEAD!  Then it hit me!  This was concrete.  It was made by man – not by nature.  All the life had been processed out of it – and it was DEAD!  That meant that the granite rocks that emitted that energy that I loved so much were ALIVE!!!!!  THE INDIANS WERE RIGHT!  I COULD SEE IT NOW!  Rocks ARE alive!!!  And so is the whole planet! 

       So now when I hike, I feel like I’m part of the rocks.  I’m not just a visitor ON the rocks.  I’m alive with the rocks.  They are no longer JUST rocks.  They are living.  We are one.

 

       When I lived in Colorado I hiked year round.  Summer, winter – it didn’t matter.  As long as I dressed appropriately and was careful, I had no problems.

       On one occasion, I went to a state park in the Rockies in late winter.  It had well marked trails so I wasn’t worried about getting lost.  As it turned out, looking down from a bird’s eye view, as the trail ascended, it made a huge ‘U’ shape.  I could see my car the whole time.  I felt very comforted.  There were patches of snow and mud along the way.  At the end of the trail there was an authentic old miner’s cabin from the 1800s.  It was really cool.  I explored the whole area.  Then I had a snack and something to drink.  Time to get back.  It was getting late in the day so I moved along. 

       Hey, there were tracks in the mud and snow going in the same direction I was when I came up the trail.  They were very clear. They were also very large.  I don’t remember seeing those tracks on the way up.  No, they were definitely not there then!  Whatever it was, it was going in the same direction as me and was right behind me. Very interesting.  Hm. Four pad impressions in front of a triangular pad impression.  Dog?  No dogs up here.  Coyote?  Don’t know.  Let me check in my Handy Dandy Animal Tracking Book.  I took it out of my day pack and leafed through it.  There was the Coyote page.  One triangular pad impression with four grape like pad impressions in front of it and four small claw impressions in front of them.  The coyote claws are not retractable so they make small imprints.  The pad prints are arranged geometrically. Two side by side, then two a little further back and wider apart with the smaller claw imprints in front of them, then the triangle pad in the middle.  I compared the tracks I saw with those in the book and they were nothing like that.  It’s definitely not a coyote.  So what was it?  I leafed through the book and finally found my prints.  Four grape like pad imprints arranged lopsidedly in front of a large triangular pad print.  And no claw imprints!  It was a MOUNTAIN LION!!!  And it was following me!  From behind!  That’s how they attack!  In the Rockies!  In the winter!  Not much food up here then!  And it was dusk!   Feeding time!  I’m pretty good sized so I would be more than a morsel for a Mountain Lion.  I’d be a whole Banquet!  It could have it’s friends over!!!  Yikes.  I’m big, maybe I could fight it off.  Hmm – but do I really want to do that?  They’re extremely strong and I bet it’s REALLY hungry.  DESPERATELY hungry.  It’s probably looking at me right now wondering how many meals I’ll make.   

       You know?  I love clichés.  And there’s one that says – Discretion is the better part of valor.  Yep. 

        I never bushwhack in the woods – that’s going off trail – especially in the Rockies but – another cliché – rules are made to be broken.  I could see my car the whole time so I crashed into the woods, dodging rocks, avoiding drop offs, knocking down bushes until I got back to my car.  Woof – I made it. 

       I’m not a chicken but having spent a lot of time in the woods and the Rockies I have tons of respect for Nature! 

       I’d rather go home and have a meal than follow the rules and BE a meal.

 

       It’s the strangest thing.  I have a test to see if something will succeed in the marketplace.  If I like it – it disappears.  It’s amazing! 

       For example, TV shows.  A new one will premiere.  I love it!!  I eagerly look forward to the next episode.  I set aside that time slot just to watch that show. I look forward to it all week.  Then they cancel it!  It happens every time.  If I like it, it’s gone.

       A new product will come on the market.  I think it’s perfect.  I want it.  I look all over town to find a store that sells it. I finally find it and I get a bunch.   I like it so much that I say, when I run out of this batch, I’ll get twice as much next time.  Then BAM!!!  It’s gone.  Just like that. It’s uncanny. 

       I should sell myself as a one man focus group.  I’ll be the Focus Person.  Whatever I like, they can forget about.  Whatever I don’t like will be a hit.  They can bet on it.  See how much money they could save?  Oh well.

 

        Ah spring. The other day I was walking in the park. It was a beautiful spring day.  Crystal clear.  Temperature was perfect.  I could not have designed a better day.  I noticed that there was an exceptional amount of squirrels.  Where were they before?  I don’t know but they were here now.  They were very cute, doing their squirrel antics and all.  They were everywhere.  As I ambled along I noticed movement in the grass.  It was two squirrels mating!  WOW!  I never saw two squirrels mating before.  Even they have to do it!  Ha!  Little devils.  I could have sworn I saw a huge smile on the male’s face.  Ah springtime love.  I can’t wait to see the little ones. 

 

       I heard a Cardinal singing outside my window the other day.  Such a beautiful song.  It sang, then paused.  Just then another Cardinal answered with a different song.  They just kept going back and forth.  They were communicating.  They were actually talking to each other. 

       I realized, being Springtime, it was a pair courting.  What were they saying?  I took out my Cardinal book and translated. 

Him:  Hey baby, wanna go out? 

Her:   What kind of bird do you take me for?

Him:  Just the kind that likes a good time.

Her:   Oh really?

Him:  I know a great spot where we can get oodles of seeds. 

Her:  Oodles?

Him:  Yep. 

Her:   Maybe. 

Him:  And there’s a secret place, that only I know, where I can get you the best Sunflower seeds. 

Her:  Oh, my favorite.

Him:  So you wanna go?

Her:   Weeeell – OK.

They smiled at each other, then flew away, wing to wing.

       You might think that I imagined all this but even though my Cardinal book is old, I’m convinced that’s what they said.   You got anything different?

 

       Well they’re here again.  Buds!!!  Tree buds, bush buds, flower buds.  Oy! 

       What does that mean?  SPRING!!!  First came the Robins and now this – and they won’t stop growing!!!     They’re ruthless!!!  I don’t have anything against nature.  I don’t have anything against plants.  I just hate the heat and humidity of Summer and Buds mean that we are deeper into Spring and that much closer to Summer – That the dreaded soaring temps and dripping mugginess of Summer are closing in!!!  

       Yikes!!!  Stupid buds.

 

         I’m the youngest of five kids. My brother and sisters are between four and nine years  older than me. 

         Recently, we were all together, talking about when we were kids – except – they were kids BEFORE I was born!!!!!  I listened to them talk about the fun they had – you know, the day to day things kids do to amuse themselves.  I related to that because I did stuff like that too.  Some of the things they talked about I remembered but then they talked about before I was born.  I listened raptly.

         BUT THEN IT HIT ME!!!   I WASN’T THERE!!!   I DID NOT EXIST!!! THERE WAS NO ME!!!   A WHOLE PERSON THAT DID NOT EXIST YET!!!   WOW!!!   THEY WERE THERE BUT I WAS NOT!!! 

         THIS was a real revelation to me!!!   I was stunned!!!

     WHERE WAS I???!!!???

 

     Whilst I was eagerly awaitin the hugely hyped, total eclipse, this happened.

       Eclipse came early here.  Came yesterday.   It were REALLY long.  Started at 8 PM last night and lasted till 7 AM this morning – It were a TOTAL eclipse too – totally dark here!!!  ALL NIGHT!!!

They say it’s coming back again tonight. 

Best thing- don’t need no special glasses.

ECLIPSEDZ

 

        I live in Florida, land of searing Summers with armor piercing sun and drenching humidity.  NO one who lives here looks forward to the summer.  Those who can, go north during the summer.  I can’t, so my heat index endurance is sorely tested.  It is for this reason that I dread spring, because spring means searing summer is right behind. 

       I love animals, including birds.  I am fortunate enough to have a Magnificent Magnolia tree right outside my kitchen window that the birds, in their migratory habits, love to stop. My Magnolia tree is a rest stop on the highway to their final destinations.

       The other day I saw them.  Robins.  Not one, not two, not three but a whole flock of them in my back yard!  “Oh man,” I thought.  “They’re here”.  Yikes!  Don’t get me wrong, I love Robins.  It’s not them, it’s what they represent.  They signal that springtime has come.  First comes the beginning of spring with slightly warmer temperatures. Then the end of Spring with pretty hot temperatures, then:  SUMMER TIME!!!  SEARING SUMMER TIME!!!  ARMOR PIERCING SUN SUMMERTIME!!!  DRENCHING HUMIDITY SUMMERTIME!!!  Yuck!!!!!  

       My heart sank. Up north there are people who stay in all winter long to avoid the cold and snow.  Here in Florida we stay inside the whole summer to avoid the searing heat, armor piercing sun and four shower a day humidity.  I become a hermit in the summer.  I only go out for food, like a bear in hibernation but in reverse.  Florida is a wonderful state – but the summers……

       So, that is why when those cute, happy, colorful, energetic, cheerful, wonderful Robins come, I CRINGE!!!   I KNOW WHAT’S COMING!!!