revoke my car privileges and drop me in a field somewhere, please

Rarely do I feel compelled to deconstruct my entire day in the space of a blog post, but today was um…special, shall we say? It started out normal enough. Armed with an unexpected day off, I crossed county lines with field glasses in hand to search for field birds. I had good intel on locations for breeding birds, and made haste for them. With windows rolled down, I heard the telltale robotic jingle-jangle of a Bobolink and navigated over to the shoulder. Out of the car in a flash, I first thought I’d been fooled by a nearby mockingbird attempting to hog the spotlight as usual, but then the bobolink himself flew overhead, tinkling and jingling to his heart’s content. He flew across the road and landed in a field, affording me adequate looks to get the day started off on the best foot. Nemesis bird comes home to roost! I moved on. I drove the country roads for about an hour and a half and found the birds to be generally cooperative. I saw and heard all my target birds for this trip. Meadowlarks were plentiful and I got a couple of stellar looks at them. Horned Larks were not as plentiful but I did spot a couple from a distance, and heard them elsewhere. I found a singing male Dickcissel perched on the exact section of power line where I found one last year…could it have been the same bird? In addition to these birds, I was also treated to great looks at several American Kestrels.

As I began to wind down my time, I returned once again to the site of the initial bobolink sighting to see if I could cop another look. As I navigated the car onto the opposite shoulder this time, the right front end suddenly sunk into a hidden ditch. When I got out of the car, I saw that the back left wheel was about 3 feet off the ground! As I assessed the seriousness of the situation, a man in a box truck drove up and offered assistance. We tried moving the car with him sitting in the hatch for balance (he was sorta stocky), but that didn’t work so he offered to seek out a farmer down the road with a chain, or failing that to call the sheriff’s office. While waiting around, I watched a bobolink groom himself while perched on a power line. Unfortunately my concern about the car impeded my joy at witnessing this scene. About 20 minutes later I was about to give up on Box Truck Man and call a tow truck when simultaneously the sheriff showed up and two country dudes in a big pick-up passed by and offered to pull me out. Within minutes they’d hooked a chain to the frame and pulled the car out. Country folks rule! I thanked them all profusely and decided to head back to the city after so much excitement.

I needed to pick Em El up and shuttle her downtown for a meeting but I had some extra time so I stopped to check on the birds at another favorite location. There I found expected Prairie Warbler and Hooded Warbler, although couldn’t get a visual on the latter. Many singing Field Sparrows, a perched Turkey Vulture (usually they’re circling endlessly overhead at this spot), a singing White-eyed Vireo, and other usual suspects rounded out the mix.

Once downtown I killed more time (die, time, die!) by finishing Darkness Visible and continuing with Paris Spleen, drinking espresso, and getting yelled at by a probably schizophrenic man. Somehow I think Baudelaire would’ve appreciated the scene. Unbeknownst to me, while all of this fun was taking place Em El’s car was being towed because I failed to read the red highlighted part of the parking meter that said No Parking Between 4-6 PM Mon-Fri. Yes, this is common knowledge to those who frequently drive and park in the city. However, I’m like a deer in the headlights when I get downtown behind the wheel of a car (really bad simile in this context, I know). I don’t know the rules, man! I’m a cyclist, for god’s sake. I haven’t owned a car since 1997 or something (if you’re curious, it was a Plymouth Valiant that sat in my driveway for a few years after I used it to move to Virginia [it looked like this, except crappier because it only cost $400]). Anyway, I guess the cycling gods were raining down holy fire and brimstone on me today for driving too much lately. Maybe I deserved it, but damn, those cycling gods are harsh. Of course, no thanks to The City of Baltimore, either, always taking and never giving!

As we waited in line to pay the obscene $272 required to get the car back, I attempted to lighten the mood by telling Em El that at least we can chalk this up as another quintessential Baltimore experience (along with other special things, such as becoming the victim of a crime and receiving wildly inaccurate water bills). After all, you haven’t really lived in Baltimore until you’ve waited 45 minutes in the tiny concrete bunker under the interstate overpass with all the other suckers preyed upon that day by the blood-sucking savages commonly known as tow-truck drivers.

As if all this wasn’t enough, immediately after Farley ate his dinner tonight he barfed it all up in various places around the house along with all the water he’d drank in the previous 30 minutes. By that time, I was about ready to hurl myself off the deck in search of sweet unconsciouness.

To sum up, my joy tonight is all tangled with misery and weariness.

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  1. Well, my heart goes out to you. Sounds like that dratted Venus alignment isn’t going to be all that we would wish for – but as P.G.W. might say, ” steady on old chap,”
    As awful as the dog regurgitant (don’t think that’s a word but I’m going to use it anyway because the others that come to mind are too unbearably evocative) is, it does clean up – and I hope you have a good friend who will do it for you if you’re not up to it yourself, or if Jeeves cannot be summoned in time.
    As for the extortion money, I hope you can make more and make it up…. In the end it all gets spent anyway, and its best not to dwell on these things too much.
    I don’t know what your poison is, but if I were you I would have a couple of shots of whiskey and watch a happy movie – if possible with some good company. That should take the edge off I think.
    Sending you good thoughts,

    • Thanks, Dia! I drank a couple of beers and went to bed. Sometimes that’s the best course of action when the day seems to be fighting against you. Feeling much better today, but plan to stay away from the car. ;)

      • And…I could’ve really used Jeeves’s steady resolve and dry wit last night! Probably would’ve made all the difference.



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