Anne Notations

Monday, September 28, 2009

This time of year

A dock on Brushneck Cove, mid September.

Ahhh, this weather! Nights in the 50s, days in the 70s. Everything is beautiful. If there is a heaven, I would like it to have this climate all the time. Beyond time, that is.

Daisy and I took a brilliant morning walk up Seaview Ave. one morning last week. Well, the walk was normal, but the sights! Water like a mirror; bright houseboat against vivid blue. I love seeing twice: once as I walk and see something that quickens my heart; again as I look into the viewfinder and get ready to click. I never tire of the combination of outdoors, exercise, nature appreciation, and art.

Fowl play
This morning as I walked Daisy up to Danger Bridge, I saw Mama Swan sailing like a white ship up Brushneck Cove with two large, gray cygnets trailing her. Formerly there were five babies. Can I hope the other three have ventured off to new lives?

Father Swan, alas, was less fortunate. His body washed up alongside Seaview Avenue several weeks ago. Our friend Bill said it appeared to have been run over by a boat; another man I chatted with last week as he walked his fat old dachshund claimed local kids had stoned it to death. Both fates are horrific, but I prefer the boat accident version. When you get up close to an adult swan (which can be risky!), it's hard to imagine wanting to kill something that magnificent, proud, and graceful.

Little old Lily doing her best "I'm a big fierce dog" snarl at Daisy.

Feed us! Feed us!

On the pond side of Danger Bridge, the other swan family (mother, father, one cygnet) were climbing down the grassy embankment and shaking their feathers out before launching into the still waters. That family has become so tame, I worry about them. They hang around in people's yards now (see above) looking for handouts, emitting the occasional hiss just to show who's in charge.

Also this morning from the bridge, I saw a large flock of mallards paddling near the shore, with several lone males winging up the cove just feet above the water. Here come the over-wintering waterfowl! Next will be the Brants, followed by the hunters with their death machines. Yes, I'm a wimp about hunting. Yes, I know it helps control overpopulation of species.

We have had an influx of white egrets this year. These are the graceful creatures that seem to have stepped out of a Japanese print. I saw one near the mallards this morning and two more across the cove. Compared to ducks, they are slender and balletic as they mince on stick legs through the shallows, stabbing their long, needle-sharp bills at fish under the surface.

The formative movie of my childhood, redux
My parents bought our first TV when I was around four. I was addicted to "Captain Kangaroo" every weekday morning.

One of the best things about having a TV back then was our annual January date with The Wizard of Oz. I was too young to have seen it in a theater, and born decades before "videos" became a commonplace consumer purchase. Our own children watched the video repeatedly. For me, there was something oddly unsatisfying about being able to shove a cassette in the VCR and watch Dorothy and Toto and the sadistic Miss Gulch any time we felt like it. Gone was the rapturous, shivery anticipation of the annual TV showing.

The magic returned, for me anyway, with a one-night-only large-screen showing of the remastered, high-def (a relative term) Wizard in selected cinemas around the country. Of course I bought tickets as soon as I read about the event. Last Wednesday evening Peter and I sat near the front of the theater and watched the familiar story unfold.

How pretty the young Judy Garland was on the big screen! Her skin, luminous; her eyes, large and expressive. Special effects were primitive in the 1930s, but that screaming dark tornado was vivid, reminding me of the derivative twister nightmares I endured for decades thereafter. And the Wizard! – a huge head hologram moving its lips on a curtain, bellowing at the poor cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr owning the iconic furry character), reprimanding plucky Dorothy – "SILENCE, whippersnapper!" Oh, yikes. As a child I watched that scene, trembling, from between my fingers, ready to snap them shut when it became too much.

"I'll get you, my pretty. And your little dog, too!" Was there ever a witchier witch in childhood cinema?

What was remarkable to me was the way the audience responded with instant recognition to lines that have become part of the vernacular: "Toto too?" "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." "There's no place like home." Like my beloved Star Wars, the Wizard of Oz is a splendid, timeless piece of cinema - and a fecund source for all manner of popular culture and sayings.

Little critters
The end of summer brings animals and insects out for last-ditch feeding and mating frenzies. Daisy learned this the hard way when she walked up to a skunk in our road late one night and got drenched face-first with the foulest smelling spray I've ever had the misfortune to inhale – or wash off.

This big bad girl is polishing off a fly next to our garden shed.

Around the gardens we see the frantically busy insects and arachnids. As the shadows deepen each day, female garden spiders create a last elaborate web and eat hearty, then tuck precious egg sacs in safe places.

Two mantises intent on hanky-panky?

Fascinating, chameleon-like praying mantises roam our yard and streets like latter-day dinosaurs, chowing on (sob) butterflies and fattening up for the fall egg-laying ritual.

What's the winter rule about woolly bear caterpillars? I saw one near the beach path yesterday that had a reddish-brown band at least an inch long around his middle. Cold weather on the way?

Bees humming, jamming pollen in their leg sacs, bumblebees and honeybees and wasps, all over the flowers. I move among them without fear, snipping dead flowers right in among the fuzzy buzzers, telling them, "I won't hurt you. I'm here to make new flowers grow." Honestly, we seem to groove on the same wavelength; they are docile and calm as I snip and pinch the plants.

Day's end
The tradeoff for the lovely cool nights is shorter days. No matter. The evening skies become canvases for an unseen Artist, and again, there I am with my camera, hopping onto boulders for a better view, looking for new ways to see the waning of the light. With summer beach crowds and partiers no longer hanging around, our screen doors admit quiet sounds of the early autumn nights: crickets, soughing wind in the trees, the "mew" of a feral cat.

Autumn arrives, and I am its lover, witness, besotted chronicler. "O World, I cannot hold thee close enough...."


  • Goodness, that dog is plump.

    Regarding the swan -- I endorse the boat theory. I have a hard time imagining anyone successfully stoning a swan, seeing how the body is big and sturdy but the head is small. One rock to the body and that swan would be away, quickly (unless he was protecting something). So I theorize.

    Swans appear in many stories. The Ugly Duckling is the happiest I know. The Trumpet of the Swan is the best. And The Swan (by Roald Dahl) is the most terrible. I own the collection that it appears in, and I can rarely read a single page.

    Then again, I'm "sensitive". As a kid with a black and white TV in the early 70s, I couldn't take the Wizard of Oz. No brave soul like Anne was I! Though I did go on to direct the play in middle school. One of my greatest childhood achievements. I'm still friends with Dorothy. And Facebook has reconnected me with the Wicked Witch of the West and the Tin Man.

    By Blogger Marsosudiro, at Tue Sep 29, 04:28:00 PM EDT  

  • HI Anne! Looks like you and I wrote kinda similar things on Ian's blog at about the same time. Or at least, I certainly relate to what you said.

    I looove your blog. I must have read it a while ago and forgotten about it, and now I'm back! Is your dog a dachshund/pitbull or something? I actually saw one like it in a park in NY once and the guy said that's what his dog was. How those dogs got together, who knows!

    You are great. Have a wonderful day.

    By Blogger AddledWriter, at Thu Oct 01, 09:03:00 AM EDT  

  • Caren: LOL - that pic isn't our dog; it's a fat old dachshund that a neighbor was walking. He actually walks her a lot every day, so he must overfeed here to keep her that overweight.

    Our dog Daisy (viewable elsewhere on this blog) is a half-beagle, half-pit that we adopted at a city shelter more than 9 years ago. She's awesome. (and the perfect weight! which is more than I can say of myself) Agree that we reacted similarly to Ian's post about work.

    Thank you so much for complimenting my blog. This particular entry was a mishmash but I needed to get SOMETHING out. I also had lost track of your blog when my home computer hard drive died, and with it my bookmarks. Re-bookmarking!

    Remember to take an October 1 food photo for the FB group!

    By Blogger Anne D., at Thu Oct 01, 09:16:00 AM EDT  

  • "That's not my dog"

    By Blogger Marsosudiro, at Thu Oct 01, 11:05:00 AM EDT  

  • This is a beautiful post with a lot of appreciation for the pleasures of life and nature. Thank you for writing it.

    By Blogger Miriam L, at Thu Oct 01, 05:59:00 PM EDT  

  • Why did you need to get SOMETHING out?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Oct 05, 02:50:00 PM EDT  

  • I found this to be a beatiful post, which really resonated for me. I too miss that specialness of only being able to see things in certain contexts, like that once a year that Thee Wizard of Oz was on TV. (I think I liked it better, in a way at least, when Rock Stars weren't all over this thing called Youtube - some distance is healthy when it comes to things we love.

    It really bothers me when little kids are cruel to ducks, etc. A lot.

    I often watch movies through my fingers, covering and uncovering. I got the idea from Costello doing it and an A & C movie I saw as a kid.

    I think I liked your first picture here the most, the way it's all green except for that one strip.

    Again, I think this was a great post - true blogging, which I can't quite define but know it when I see it.

    By Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann, at Wed Oct 07, 10:10:00 AM EDT  

  • Wonderful photos. Wonderful reflections (both visual and verbal). If I'm ever in your neck of the woods, I'll buy ya lunch.

    By Blogger AddledWriter, at Wed Oct 07, 03:07:00 PM EDT  

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