bunt sign

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Being busy isn't the same as being productive. At least, it wasn't the same today. Still, it felt good to be busy on a day like this, even if it didn't advance any worthwhile causes. The overcast was heavy and lingering. It was chilly enough to be almost wintry, and I was drinking cocoa (low fat and low calorie, of course) while I was working.

The birds must know that winter is coming, but they didn't show it today. A bird splashing in the birdbath on this gray afternoon had to keep ducking out of the way of several small finches who were dive-bombing the soggy sparrow, hoping to get it out of the water. The sparrow was persistent, though, and not about to leave just because of the inconvenience of a bunch of annoying little pests.

Finally one of the finches gave up the assault and used the butterfly garden to get a drink. The next time I looked out the door and into the garden, all of these creatures had moved on, but I knew there would be another drama of some kind soon.

Some of the birds I haven't seen since spring are starting to reappear. I've had scrub jays and woodpeckers here within the last week or so. I'm not sure, but I think I might have seen a mockingbird out there yesterday. It's been a long time since the ring-necked pheasant has dropped by, but it's getting to the time of year when I expect it.

The climate is so temperate here that the usual patterns don't always apply. I never know which species I'm going to be seeing, but having lived here just over a year, I do know that there's never a time when some kind of life doesn't make my yard its home.

Since I'd used the hot weather we've had over the last few days as an excuse not to work in the yard, I thought I'd better get out and do something this afternoon. I didn't relish the thought of being outside in the cold breeze that was whipping the branches back and forth. But I can't have it both ways, can I?

I have only two days to fill up the empty yard waste container, since it goes out to the curb Thursday night, but it took just half an hour to get it almost full. I worked along the south fence, wondering how anything could grow in dirt so thoroughly plowed and excavated by the gophers. There were holes and soft spots all over that part of the yard, and most of the tall, prickly weeds came out by the roots with no more than a gentle tug.

They fought back, though, these weeds. My skin was covered with scratches by the time I was finished, and the thorns and barbs that skewered me even got under my clothes and inside my leather gloves. It took some intense scrubbing and a lavish dose of Lubriderm therapy to make myself feel normal again.

Even if it wasn't too cold to work in the yard, I wasn't about to sit on the porch and try to read today. It was definitely too cold for that.

Then I remembered last winter, when I would climb into the loft and read every day by the fading afternoon light coming through the west window. It's been too hot to spend much time up there since late spring. Any time I've walked up the stairs this summer, it's been with the thought that I needed to get back down again quickly away from the heat. The weather today might not have been to my liking, but it did have the benefit of making the loft usable again, at least for one day.

While I was sitting upstairs in the lounge chair with the book in my lap, I realized that this was the first day in over a week without a baseball game to watch at this time of the day. There had been an early game, but it ended at just about the time I was ready to quit working for awhile.

This was like stealing time, having the rest of the afternoon and evening to do something different. It's not that I couldn't have just turned off the games I've been watching and gone on to some other pursuit.

Well, yes it is. It's exactly that, because in two weeks there will be no more baseball until spring. These are the games that count, the ones I've been looking forward to all year. Not watching would be like betraying my own identity. Or something.


Another North Bay sunset in mid October.

When I came downstairs after reading for an hour, I noticed I'd left both doors wide open, and it was now as cool inside the house as it had earlier been outside. I shut everything up and fixed myself another cocoa (only 25 calories!). It didn't take much pondering to decide how to spend my sudden gift of free time. I had bills to pay and paperwork to finish. I had a pile of laundry that wasn't getting any smaller (just riper). And I had an entry to write.

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