October 20th, 2003

caillebotte_the balcony

It Isn't Cricket

As I went out into the night, I heard something run away. It sounded like a small dog. I wonder if it might have been a fox? I used to hear them frequently, and saw them occasionally, but there has been no sign of them for several years. It might also have been a stray coyote. They, too, were once common. I would hear packs of them howling in the orchard, and sometimes, shining a flashlight down the block, I would see their eyes reflecting the light as they lurked among the trees. But the coyotes have been missing for several years, too. I'm sometimes surprised that the deer still bother to come around. The raccoons, of course, would visit even if we built skyscrapers and freeways here. Raccoons are very close to becoming as urban as rats. The squirrels, though -- they would keep mostly to the parks.

The hunter's moon is almost spent, and rose late, a mere cup of light rocking among the stars. Mars is growing dimmer, and Orion reaches the zenith a bit earlier each night. I caught a glimpse of a meteor a while ago. If I stayed out all night, I'd probably see more. But then I wouldn't have time to squander looking at baseball pictures.

No, I haven't developed baseball fever. It's just in the air. I used to play the game on the vacant lot across the street from my house until I was about twelve years old, and once had a number of baseball cards (which now might be quite valuable) which I traded for a bunch of postcards from the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. Maybe that whiff of nostalgia floating on the autumn air sent me off in search of baseball pictures. Whatever one feels about the national pastime (15 minutes of excitement crammed into two hours,) you have to love a web site that posts picture albums of minor league teams such as the Stockton Ports right along with the big boys of the major leagues. Only on the Internet.
caillebotte_man at his window

Fading Afternoon

There is a bit of a warming trend going on. It isn't hot yet, and is in fact very comfortable for me, but Sluggo is distressed. For me, it would be perfect ice cream weather, if I still ate that highly sugary but delightful confection. Well, actually, I do eat it, occasionally, in small amounts, although I shouldn't. But not today. Tomorrow is the dental appointment, and the inevitable aches and muscle soreness which I endure after eating too much sugar would surely aggravate the unpleasantness of being orally poked and prodded in a bad way.

The lump under the cat's chin turned out to be an abscess. It opened up yesterday and is draining nicely. I've given her a medication to hasten the process. I have no idea how she came by the injury which became abscessed, since she hasn't been in any fights of late. She might have scratched herself too vigorously. I hope that it isn't the result of a dental problem. I'm keeping an eye on her, and counting on the remarkable recuperative powers of her species. There is nothing she hates more than a trip to the vet.

I'm hearing a few more acorns fall, but not as many as last year. A short while ago, a crow swooped over my driveway and dropped one in order to crack the shell, then retrieved it and flew off to enjoy its repast away from my prying eyes. I wonder how crows cracked acorns before there were pavements? There are few outcrops of rock around here, and the dirt would surely be too soft to crack an acorn shell.

I just heard another one hit the street. Looking out, I see a big crow pecking at the exposed nut, while another crow caws angrily from a branch on a nearby oak. Has there been an acorn hijacking? I expect there will be more of these altercations in the coming days, given the poverty of this year's crop.

Daylight Saving Time will be ending in a few days. I will miss the long evenings, but not the gray light which still seeps through my window before I can get to sleep too many mornings. Yet a full month of autumn has already passed, and in a third of a year, we will be struggling up out of winter, anticipating the approach of spring. I much prefer November to February, but take comfort in the fact that the lengthening daylight of that colder month will cheer me, even before the first buds appear. For now, the emerging color and lingering warmth will be compensation for the early dark. Each season has its virtues, and autumn not the fewest, even for the hungry crows who have now departed in search of more food, leaving the street placid in the precious gold light of late afternoon.