August 26th, 2005



Competing with only half a moon, and that for only half the night, the stars kindled in the clear sky, the galaxy floating like a strew of tiny white petals on a dark lake. Agreeably cool, the serene air barely stirred the leaves, and the pines were silent all night. Long hours passed without the sound of crickets or barking dogs, nor anything that crept or flew. No owls hooted, no nighthawks cried. Rarely, I heard a car moving along some distant street, but those nearby remained deserted.

Gradually, the half moon rose to shed its pale light, and then Orion slowly hove up from the dark rim of woods. Not until late did the arrival of the noisy car bringing the newspaper briefly interrupt the calm. In short, it was a perfect night. It went a long way toward redeeming the overwrought days of summer. Now it is vanishing into a strangely gray morning, and the acorn woodpeckers are chuckling. The misfortune is that the day will be hotter once again. I will close the windows to hold in as much of the lingering night air as possible. At least I can be sure that the next such night will arive fairly soon. The best nights of the year come in late summer and early fall. This was the first of many.
gericault_the raft of the medusa 2

Plague Year

A kitty in Tahoe City has the plague. It's the fourth cat to get the plague in California this year, but the first three were all in Kern County, at the south end of the Central Valley. Tahoe City is closer. Plague-infected rodents have been found in eleven California counties this year, including Butte County. Actually, Butte County gets plague-infected rodents many years, but the number usually goes up in years such as this when very hot summers follow very wet winters. Public health officials are urging people to keep cats indoors, so they won't go hunting rodents.

There's not much chance I could keep Sugar indoors. She has a way of appearing from nowhere and zipping out the minute she hears a door opening. But then, she hasn't been doing much hunting in her old age, and she left gophers and moles unmolested to make tunnels all over the yard earlier this year. She never was much of a rat catcher. She used to be the terror of birds, though, but lately she hasn't shown much interest even in the tasty avians. About the only thing she'll chase anymore is other cats.

I guess it's also unlikely that I'll be getting the plague, myself. I seldom have anything to do with rodents, and as long as I don't sit on the lawn, I never get flea bites. In fact it seems highly unlikely that there will be a plague of plague here. I mean, a Medieval-type plague, with guys roaming the streets pulling corpse-filled carts and calling "Bring out your dead!" as the church bells solemnly toll. Ah, romance is gone from the modern world.