george trakl’s snowy descent

Fascinating critical essay on Austrian poet Georg Trakl and the influence of cocaine and other intoxicants on his work.

(via Public Domain Review)

peering out from dormancy

The recently sliced up confetti of old words sifts through my fingers as the primitive beats of old heavy music pulses in the other room. Winter is upon us, oh yes, with the wind and the snow and the sleet and the penetrating coldness. Every year the shock of how slowly real winter arrives here beats me about the head with a large stick come late December, early Januaryish. Cold fingers tapping on the keys, the chill of the glass in these windows, how reading in the sunroom suddenly means reading in the ice fishing shack. And how I become a grumbly old man, rug thrown across my lap, scarf encircling my neck, unwashed hair standing on end, burning words in my brain to stay warm somewhere, if not on the outer surfaces, then at least on the inner ones.

I still prefer it to the stifling madness of a city summer. I find it easier to get warmer than to get cooler. The lack of mosquitoes in winter thrills me. Sometimes I loiter in my front yard, teeth chattering, for the mere joy of not being eaten alive by those tiny flying demons.

The bitter cold purifies. Most living things die out there. Or go dormant. I go semi-dormant myself, though this state is not dissimilar from other times of year for me.

On cold days, humans appear on the street as rapid bundles of fabric. On hot days, humans appear on the street as languid loops of flesh. Take your pick.

I’m making good use of my vacation from the-place-that-shall-not-be-mentioned-by-name. In addition to copious reading, I’m indulging in a bit of paper management, something which I tend to ignore the necessity of for months at a time. This activity chiefly entails clearing off a desk I no longer use, famed dumping ground of mail that may or may not require saving and paper scraps scrawled with cryptic notations that I must now decipher in order to determine their value. But it also extends to shredding old writing: abandoned manuscripts, hard copies of blog entries, failed stories, and handwritten pieces that have since been either typed up or rejected. Destroying my own words gives me secret pleasure (well, it’s no secret anymore). So much of what I’ve written is dead to me, and I am merely finalizing that. The end of the year is a good time to do this. One desires a clean slate, at least on some levels. We are of course multi-slated individuals, and not all slates require erasing.

Yes, so here I am talking about the weather and my fascinating domestic life. It’s not what I wanted to write about, but I have not figured out yet how to write about what it is that I want to write about. Oddly enough this past summer was more fertile for that, so perhaps the heat is good for something after all.

Playlist for above activities and subsequent transposition into words:

Universal Order of Armageddon – Discography
Sleep – Volume One
Charles Mingus – Mingus Moves

christmas eve

It’s snowing here. Imagine cold white puffs falling slanty, clinging to many a surface. I’m taking a picture with my mind and sending it to you through the Aether. Note the female cardinal in the boughs of the cherry tree, a little south of center. She blends in well so you really need to squint. There is also a blanketing of sound that I’m afraid the picture cannot convey. But if you stop listening you may hear it.

I feel a sense of peace today. I hope it’s catching.

february coming spring*

*nod to Samhain

The daffodils are rising as the robins trickle back into the city. Last week I heard a male cardinal testing out his pipes, gearing up for courtship rites. And today, as I rolled my bike out the basement door, a Song Sparrow belted out his bright song from an undisclosed location secreted within the old cottonwood tree.

These signs of spring feel unwarranted. We have not endured enough of winter’s harshness to deserve such rich pleasures so soon. It makes me want to move farther north, where the extreme cold and steady snow sweeten the coming warmth of spring’s new life.

As the temperature wavers, still my mind wanders, far from here, never where it’s paid to be. This dreamer role, this aqueous nature, it is equal parts curse and blessing. It becomes harder every day to reel myself back in to accomplish the tasks at hand. Perhaps one day I will unravel all the way, cut loose to float wherever the wind will take me. But for now routines strangle me, each of them a single lead weight in my pocket, rooting me to this unfamiliar patch of land I struggle to call home.

blizzard of oz yields new yard birds

Well, the dual blizzard effect blew in a few new yard birds to add to my meager list. At one point yesterday, I looked out the window at the feeders (mounted on the deck), and saw a single Song Sparrow in the middle of the feeder tray, flaring its wings and aggressively charging the various members of a rather nonplussed gang of House Sparrows. After a valiant effort to defend its newly discovered cache of sunflower seeds, it flew off into the crabapple tree. A couple of minutes later, a White-throated Sparrow (another new yard bird!) popped into view. The Song Sparrow reappeared shortly afterward and fed undisturbed.

Other blizzard birds at the feeder: Northern Cardinals (both male & female), a pair of American Goldfinches (not seen in the yard since mid-fall), many Mourning Doves, and the local Northern Mockingbird, who has done his very best to micro-manage the whole operation.

Tomorrow I may actually get out to do some real birding.  Oh, and this weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count, so if you feel so inclined, it’s really easy to participate and can take up as little as 15 minutes of your time for one, two, or all four days. It’s a fun way to help the birds by providing scientists with data on a scale they would never be able to gather on their own.

it snowed…again.

The bird feeding station prior to snow removal.  Even before I got out to clean things up, cardinals, sparrows, and doves were all jockeying for the one section of the feeder not covered by snow.

Not a typical seed eater, this hungry mockingbird made many trips to the feeder while I was clearing off the deck, several times while I was standing only a couple of feet away.  He was so close I could see the seed travel down his throat as he swallowed.

The city has a history of never plowing our neighborhood.  After the big storm of December, it was weeks before the alley and streets were finally snow-free.

something different

My back hurts:

Epic Baltimore snowstorm shatters existing record for December!  We walked through white-out blizzard conditions on Saturday to purchase the second-to-last snow shovel at Rite-Aid.  Then came home and played Scrabble and watched movies.  We spent much of today digging out.  I wish it would snow like this more often; it made me nostalgic for all those childhood snowstorms I lived through (and played in!).  Of course, next time let’s make it happen during the week, shall we?

snowy day

As I stare out the window, fluffy puffs of snow drift purposefully down from the sky. They signal a lazy day, or at least they provide rationalization for such. As the first of the season, they also hammer the final nail in the coffin lid of autumn, and prod me into a grudging admittance that winter is definitely here now. Yesterday morning, I searched in vain again for the Red-headed Woodpeckers at Irvine. It was cold, gray, and quite birdy, with loads of other woodpeckers, sparrows (including several Fox Sparrows), many jays, and the other usual suspects. I also surprised an interesting looking squirrel. It was smaller than an Eastern Gray Squirrel, with a reddish tail and mostly blonde body. Blonde phases of gray squirrels are not uncommon, but I’m not too sure about a red/blonde mix.

Feeling a bit restless now so I think I better venture out of the house. Maybe more later?

  • Recent Posts

  • Navigation Station

    The links along the top of the page are rudimentary attempts at trail markers. Otherwise, see below for more search and browse options.

  • In Search of Lost Time

  • Personal Taxonomy

  • Common Ground

  • Resources