Then came hot JULY, boiling like to fire

July 4, 2008

Good heavens, but this place has some cobwebs in it.

For starters, we’re all still here. Just busy as all get out. I can hardly believe that it’s July already, but there is meat destined for the grill, beer in the fridge, and a bag of fireworks somewhere around here. As long as the weather holds, we should be in fine shape.

About the most exciting thing around here is the rabbit, pictured above. We have many rabbits in the area. There are also more hawks and other raptors here than anyplace else I’ve ever been, and I’m sure it’s no coincidence. We seem to lack the tree cover for squirrels and the ground cover for chipmunks and, frankly, that’s fine with me.

I’ve been engaged in a low-level cold war with squirrels for years now, starting with the one I found gnawing on our roof. When I shot him off the roof with the airgun, he fell to the deck, lay there for a moment, then took off and zig-zagged all over the place. I went into full-on Yosemite Sam mode, cocking and firing the air rifle to no avail until he disappeared into the weeds, never to be seen again. From that point on, he was the Dick to my Ahab. Moby Rat. From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee.

Anyway, no squirrels around here. Well, a few in another part of the neighborhood. They’re on their side, and I’m on mine. Détente, for now. I’ve been mulling over a proxy war via the local cats, but some things are better left undiscussed in the open.

But the rabbits are welcome. I have no garden as of yet, so I may rue the open-armed reception they’ve gotten in general, and to one in particular. The cottontail in the picture above took up residence, more or less, in our backyard a month or so ago. She can usually be found as pictured above – lounging under the trampoline. The kids don’t bother her and the dog can’t see her (as far as we can tell), so she’s become quite comfortable with us back there. Sometimes we can get as close as 5 or 6 feet away before she starts to hop a little. As hawks are not the only danger these “important prey animals” face, we have resisted the urge to name her. The Rabbit was sufficient, since we were not sure of her sex.

Well, until we found the nest anyway.

This is the nest. Sorry it’s sort of fuzzy, but I didn’t want to hang around too long. It’s a little hard to make out, but I counted at least three in there. Oddly enough, this nest was just out in the middle of the lawn in the back yard. We would have never seen it (which is probably the point), unless we hadn’t noticed her loping out to the middle of the yard and sitting there. One afternoon, about dusk, she was out there sitting over it when I noticed something with small ears moving under her chest, which is when I realized she was nursing them.

I went out the next day, pulled a little wad of pinestraw aside, and there they were, all piled up in a tiny hole. We brought the kids out, one at a time, to see them and declared that corner of the yard Off Limits, though I continued to peek every so often to make sure that nothing had eaten them, as I wanted time to get my explanation straight.

Happily, the Circle of Life talk was not needed – they seem to have bolted on their own. Everyone vanished for a few days, and then last night the mother returned and we saw at least one tiny one with her. We are presuming that the others were just hiding. That’s our story, anyway, and we’re sticking to it. The baby is small – probably only a little bigger than a baseball, and the yard we back up to his pretty shaggy and full of tall grass. Our guess is that the young are hiding back there in better cover during daylight hours.

In other news, we finished out the quarter at work and it was super-busy. You’d think that the beginning of a new quarter would be a little more relaxed, but no. The frenetic pace has carried over, which is probably a good thing. I have quite a bit of travel this month, including two back-to-back weeks in Seattle for orientation and product training. I’m looking forward to the training time, but not the time away from home. There will be another week of this in August followed by a one-day deal in New York and I’ll generally be caught up. Oh, and there’s a regional sales meeting next weekend in Ft. Lauderdale. This sounds great, but for all of the free time we’re likely to have (which is none), it might just as well be on Mars. Every hour we’re not at appointments and such is an hour we’re not driving revenue, you see.

Second prize is a set of steak knives!

And so the world turns.

In other news, our diocese has exercised its episcopal prerogative and shuffled all the priests around, as they do every few years. For us this meant the loss of a beloved little old priest from India who may be one of the holiest men I’ve ever met, though he would not like to hear me say it. He leaves us to become the pastor of a pair of churches elsewhere, and we wished him the very best of luck in his new assignment at a reception last weekend. But as a door closes, a window opens, and one of the men ordained this very year will be joining us in his first assignment, and we welcome him with love. Farewell and welcome, Fathers.

Let’s see…what else…

BookWatch: E is nearing the end of Mansfield Park and still can’t figure out how it’s going to end. I say you only need to read one Austen novel to know how it’s going to end, but I resist the urge to spoil it for her. For myself, I detoured back into Lovecraft for a little while but have started, in earnest, World Without End, Ken Follet’s sequel to Pillars of the Earth. It’s great stuff so far, as expected. We’re midway through season 2.5 of BG and are still having a great time with that bit of after-the-kids-are-in-bed indulgence. I think the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie is up there. We watched the third Spiderman installment last weekend and were a little underwhelmed. It was fun and all, but paled pretty badly next to the recent Hulk and Iron Man movies. As for the upcoming Dark Knight…well…let’s just say we’re pumped to see it. Enough said.

DorkWatch: The almanac says that we’ve entered into the Dog Days, traditionally defined as the period when the Dog Star, Sirius, appears in the morning sky along with the sun. During Roman times, it rose before the sun and was blamed for the hot weather. Thanks to precession, it’s been rising later ever since and now doesn’t show up until August. Hesiod:

When the thistle blooms and the chirping cicada
sits on trees and pours down shrill song,
from frenziedly quivering wings in the toilsome summer,
then goats are fatter than ever and wine is at its best;
women’s lust knows no bounds and men are all dried up,
because the dog star parches their heads and knees
and the heat sears their skin. Then, ah then,
I wish you a shady ledge and your choice wine,
bread baked in the dusk…

Ahem. Let’s move artfully along to Chambers’ Book of Days, which has this meditation on summertime dreams:

What dreams have we dreamed, and what visions have we seen, lying idly with half-shut eyes in some ‘ greenwood shaw,’ sheltering from July’s noonday sun, while we seemed to hear ‘ airy tongues that syllable men’s names,’ in the husky whispering of the leaves! Golden forms have seemed to spring up in the sun-lighted stems of the trees, whose high heads were buried among the lofty foliage, through which were seen openings to the sky. The deep-dyed pheasant, shooting over the underwood with streaming plumage, became a fair maiden in our eyes; and the skulking fox, noiselessly threading the brake, the grim enchanter from whom she was escaping. The twining ivy, with discoloured leaves, coiled round the stem in the far distance, became the fanged serpent, which we feared would untwine and crush her in its scaly folds. Scouts were sent out after her in the form of bees and butterflies, and seemed not to leave a flowery nook unvisited in which there was room enough for her to hide. Bird called to bird in sweet confusion, from leafy hollows, open glades, and wooded knolls, as if to tell that she had passed this way and that, until their songs became so mingled, we could not tell from which quarter the voices came. Then, as the sun burst out in all its brightness, the grim enchanter seemed to throw a golden net over the whole wood, the meshes of which were formed of the checkered lights that fell through leaf and branch, and, as we closed our eyes, we felt that she could not escape, so lay silent until the shadows around us deepened, and gray twilight stole noiselessly over the scene…

Now that’s what I’m talking about, though the shady ledge and choice wine sound pretty good, too. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July, everyone. I’ll try to write a little more often than once fortnightly.

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2 Responses to “Then came hot JULY, boiling like to fire”

  1. Kelly Says:

    ooh – how cool about the mama and baby bunnies! That must have been a very exciting discovery!

    I hate when they shuffle the priests too… I am sure it is necessary, but I always feel so sad.

  2. PeregrinJoe Says:

    Great to have you back!


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