Posted tagged ‘seagulls’

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

March 20, 2017

Happy Spring!

Good reasons are responsible for the lateness of my musings today. First off is Miss Gracie. I grabbed her as she started to fall going up the stairs. I was filling Maddie’s dish on the stairs so Gracie tried to go by me but lost her footing. We went up the stairs, got to my room, and she was hesitant to jump to the bed. I helped. She tried to settle down but just couldn’t. Finally, I grabbed my pillow and a blanket, took Gracie downstairs, and we both slept on the couch. She snored so I knew she felt better. On the first day of spring every year, my friends and I go the beach to welcome the sun. We sing Here Comes the Sun and Rockin’ Robin. We recite a poem by Frost, Two Tramps in Mudtime.

The sunrise was at 6:28. It was a cold, windy early morning. We sat in the car facing the east and waited. When we realized clouds were hiding the sun, we stayed in the car to sing our welcome. We watched seagull after seagull carrying breakfast then dropping it on the parking lot. We figured they were opening small crabs. We saw geese along the shoreline and ducks in the marshes. It was an amazingly high tide. The water in the marsh was all the way to the edge of the road. We didn’t get the sun, but the clouds were jaw-droppingly colorful. Red and orange spread across the sky in all directions strikingly set against the white of the puffy clouds. My friend Clare braved the wind and cold to get our shells, a first day of spring tradition. We stayed a while then went to breakfast, another tradition.

When I got home, I took Gracie out then settled on the couch and slept over two hours. When I woke up, I put on MSNBC to watch the hearing questioning James Comey and Admiral Mike Rogers. That is still holding my attention., makes me hopeful

Today will have a high of 44˚. I’m thinking that’s hardly spring, but I am hopeful. Spring does that to me. It makes me hopeful.

“I’m a detective, but nuns could stonewall Sam Spade into an asylum”

April 24, 2015

Today is yesterday and it’s the day before that. The temperature is in the 50’s and it is sunny and cloudy. The breeze, almost a wind, makes the day feel colder. I have things to do so Gracie and I will be out and about including a trip to the dump where it will feel like winter when the wind whips across the dump’s expanse.

My father loved to go to the dump. He usually went every Saturday and always asked for someone to go with him. There were few takers. That dump was a dump of old with high piles of trash and seagulls flying overhead squawking the whole time. The piles and the seagulls could be seen from the highway. I always told people coming to visit to keep their eyes peeled for the dump as we were the next exit.

My father would be disappointed at the dumps now with all their recycle bins and trash bins. The fun is gone and so are the seagulls.

I always found nuns mysterious and a little bit scary. I used to wonder what their hair looked like under their habits, and I also wondered why they had white handkerchiefs stuffed up their sleeves instead of in their pockets. I thought it was sort of gross. My first nuns had white blinders so they couldn’t see sideways without turning their heads. It was always to our advantage that by the time the nun turned we weren’t doing anything. She could hear the whisper but not pinpoint the source. The nuns also had a piece, sort of a half veil, across their foreheads just below the wimple. We got quite the shock  when we went back to school when I was in the eighth grade. The blinders were gone and all that was left was a little visor across the top. That nun could see everyone and everything. Nuns 1, kids 0.

“Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.”

April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

I set my alarm for 7:00 and sneaked down to my neighbor’s yard to decorate the tree by their deck. Just as I was nearly finished, the back door was opened and the dog came out. She wagged her tail and walked over some pats. The door was closed behind her, but I left right then with a few eggs still in the bag hoping I had escaped unseen.

The vet could find nothing wrong with Gracie. All the tests for a stroke were negative. He suggested, as a couple of you did, that she had eaten something in the yard or had something caught in her teeth. I gave her one of her Easter treats this morning: a dog cannoli. She bubbled at the smell, and it disappeared in a heartbeat. She still has another cannoli and a frosted bunny left. Gracie likes Easter.

The day is sunny and bright, a bit chilly but a spring morning chill, the sort which disappears as the day grows older. It’s a quiet morning on my street, the way Sundays used to be. Not even the dogs are barking.

My friends and I will go out to dinner this afternoon to our Easter restaurant. It is a dressy place: men wear suits and most women wear dresses and some even have hats. We wait for a table by the window as the view of the ocean is amazing. The surf hits the rocks and the water spews into the air. Seagulls swoop over the water and we can hear their loud squawks through the glass. The food is delicious and the drinks remarkable.

Sometimes the Easter Bunny left our baskets on the kitchen table. Other times we’d find them on our bureaus. The big chocolate rabbit was always in the middle, in the most prominent spot. I remember some rabbits were hollow while others were pure chocolate inside and out. I liked the jelly beans and black was always my favorite. I loved sticking out my black tongue, an Easter phenomenon, for everyone to see. We never had a big breakfast on Easter morning when we were kids. Mostly it was cocoa or tea and toast. Nobody wanted food. We wanted candy.

I don’t like soft peeps. They have to be so hard they make a noise when tapped on a table. That was how they arrived in Ghana after two months in transit, and I have loved then that way ever since then. My mother used to buy them, open them and let the air make them hard. Right now I have two small packs of opened peeps too soft still for eating.

I wish you all a wonderful day.

“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”

October 3, 2013

The weather needs to be bottled so I can call it out at will on a frosty, cold day. Every morning I wake to temperatures in the 70’s and fall asleep to nights in the 50’s. KIng Arthur in Camelot would approve, “By order, summer lingers through September in Camelot.” That would make this the very first week of fall and the rest of it would stretch until November. A few years ago on Thanksgiving we had appetizers on the deck. I wouldn’t mind that again.

Gracie and I went for a lovely ride yesterday. We stopped at a farm stand, and I bought tomatoes, gourds and pickles, bread and butter pickles. We also took ocean ride. The sea was calm and the air-filled with birds. It was noisy from all those seagulls. I rolled the window down to listen. It is a sound like no other. I think seagulls and their screeching would have served Hitchcock well in The Birds.

Gracie has been outside most of the last few days. She roams the yard in the morning and sleeps on the deck in the sun in the afternoon. I think that a dog’s life, at least this dog’s, is darn good.

My cleaning frenzy has stopped though I did straighten a few pictures and a calendar; however, I also noticed the bottom shelf on my tavern table needs to be polished, but I’m afraid to touch it as it may set off another frenzy.

My student Grace is going to try again to get a visa, but I don’t know how affected the embassy in Accra is by the shutdown. I suspect all consular services have been halted, and she’ll be turned away at the gate. The Peace Corps volunteers are still in place across the world and are unaffected as of yet, but of the Washington staff, 627 were furloughed. To bring the volunteers home and end Peace Corps service abroad would cost approximately $29 million, with minimal savings in operating costs. The move would end decades of good will in countries which have depended on the help of Peace Corps volunteers who contribute up to $50,000 per volunteer in free labor. I know if I had been removed from my school, I would have been devastated.

Having an empty dance card has been wonderful.

“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.”

August 31, 2013

Despite my lethargy, I got everything done yesterday. I even took Gracie to the dump then brought her home so I could do my other errands without having to leave her in the hot car. The dump was unusually quiet. Sometimes I miss the old days with squawking seagulls circling the piles of trash. It wasn’t pretty, but it was interesting and loud.

I remember learning to tie a bow so I could tie my shoes. My mother was sitting in the chair by the picture window close to the door, and I was leaning on the chair’s arm beside her. She had a huge ribbon tied around a stuffed animal’s neck. I think it was a teddy bear. She tied the bow slowly, one step at a time, explaining as she went, and I watched. She tied it a few times then had me try. My fingers seem to have minds of their own. They didn’t go where I expected. They fluttered about as I held and tied the ribbon which knotted. My mother then guided my fingers as we tied the bow together. She did that a couple of times. I tried to fly solo again, and this time I did. I made a bow. It was loose and ugly, but it was still a bow. When I tied my shoes, the bow never lasted too long. I had yet to master the tightness of a good bow, but I did over time. My bows became useful and even pretty. I’d tie them with a flourish.

Being a kid meant learning new things all the time. I’d see a bug or a bird and want to know its name. Zippers gave me a bit of trouble. I knew what to do, but it wasn’t always easy to get the two bottoms to meet exactly right. Besides, zippers were in the wrong spot. They were below eye sight so it was often hit or miss.

I remember my first row-boat and rowing in circles. I just couldn’t coordinate the oars. My dad showed me what to do. He also taught me to swim. He was a great swimmer.

The red encyclopedias in our living room, the ones from the supermarket, got a lot of use. I would randomly pick a volume and read it. It was my way of learning new stuff. Every Christmas as a gift  I got that year’s Information Please Almanac. I loved filling my head with generally useless facts. Little did I realize back then their the value. Now those facts are called trivia, and I get to compete on Thursday nights in the winter.

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

April 13, 2012

The house was really cold when I woke up this morning, 60° cold. I turned up the heat and nothing happened. I cursed a bit then decided to check the red on/off switch: it was on. I next checked the thermostat, and it was off. Glory be, no repairman needed! I turned the switch to heat and the furnace responded. The house got warmer than outside.

I know radiators aren’t the most attractive decorations for a house, but when I was a kid, I always took comfort from the hissing of the steam as the water coursed through the radiator at the foot of my bed. When I was cold, I could put my feet under it, and they’d quickly get warm. Mittens drying on the top of the radiator would steam a bit as they dried, and you had to remember to turn them over or the top side would never dry. The radiator was noisy so the house at night was never quiet, but it was always warm.

Today is Friday the 13th. I’m not suspicious so it is like any Friday for me. It’s a pretty day with the sun bright in the sky. Lots of birds are in and out at the feeders. I have a new feeder for Baltimore orioles that has yet to go out, and I’ll do that later. When I looked them up, the Audubon site said around the first of May for orioles, but all the birds were early this year so the orioles may already be here looking for their jelly. I need to get mealy worms hoping I can attract blue birds.

I don’t think I noticed birds when I was young. Seagulls at the beach and pigeons in the city are all I remember. Every morning when I woke up, I’d hear birds greeting the day, but I have no idea which birds were in my neighborhood. I assume robins as they’re everywhere but can’t think of any others. Nobody had bird feeders so there wasn’t any reason for the birds to drop by to visit.

When I was in Ghana, my family moved off cape to the same town where I had grown up. My mother put bird feeders in her yard. She got pigeons. We used to laugh and call them country pigeons. She wasn’t amused.

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.”

March 20, 2012

Happy First Day of Spring!

We welcomed spring this morning by watching the sunrise on the beach. We arrived about 6:15, and when we got out of the car, the smell of the ocean filled the air the way it does on some mornings. A bank of fog covered the houses behind us on the bay, but the ocean was clear. It was the warmest first day of spring I can remember. At first, we were the only ones on the beach. There we were, the  three of us, sitting in our beach chairs as if it were a summer day. The sea was so calm you could barely see the waves touch the sand. Behind us were squawking ducks while over the water were seagulls making all sorts of noises. I watched the birds dive into the water hunting breakfast. The sky was pink, and the pink was reflected in the water. Clare hunted shells so we could have a memento. A woman and her dog went by us down to the jetty at the end of the beach. She was throwing a tennis ball, and he was running with such joy I swear the dog was smiling.

We saw the sun start to rise when the tip first appeared, and it was glorious, all red and so bright it made us see dots before our eyes. As the sun got bigger, it seemed to get brighter and brighter. The water was so calm it reflected every bit of the light, and on it we could see the red as if a broad road led from the sun. Canada geese floated by us and several others flew right over the water toward the rising sun. We sang our welcome spring songs and took pictures of each other. It was a glorious morning which ended with our traditional first spring breakfast.

On the way home from breakfast, we couldn’t see Scargo Lake because the fog was so dense. I love foggy mornings, and I loved this morning with all its beauty, color and tradition.

“There’s an unseen force which lets birds know when you’ve just washed your car.”

July 24, 2011

The day is dark and perfectly still. The leaves are barely moving. I only hear birds. It rained this morning for a while, a short while. Before I went to breakfast, I turned off the AC and opened the windows even though today will be in the 80’s. Gracie was tired of being stuck in the house, and I missed the sounds of the street and my little world on the deck. Later, when it hits the 80’s, I may have to turn on the AC again. Starting tomorrow and for the next few days, we’ll have a summer reprieve. Temperatures will be in the 70’s.

My friend Glenn sent me pictures of last January’s snowstorm. His house and car are covered in snow, and his street has yet to be plowed. I remember that storm, and I remember wishing for summer.

I’ve come to the conclusion that people need something to gripe about, even the happiest among us. It is just the nature of the beast. Though I count myself among the latter, the happy ones, I’ve been complaining about the heat and humidity, the traffic and the gawking tourists who slow down all that traffic. I figure venting by filling the air with a few blue words is my way of thwarting grumpiness.

Sunday was usually the day we went to the beach. On Saturday my dad did his house chores, mostly the yard, so it was his day to work around the house. Sunday we’d load up the car. The picnic basket, the tartan cooler, assorted towels, the beach blanket, shirts to ward off sunburn, four kids and my parents were piled into the car, the car without air-conditioning. All four windows would be opened, but the air always felt hot, and I was prone to car sickness. The two windows by the backseat could only go down halfway so that added to the misery. Once I threw up out the window, and my father thought it had started to rain. My poor sister sat in the middle between my brother and me, but we’d still fight over sides. I’d complain his foot was on my side and he’d yell back that it wasn’t. Meanwhile, with his eyes on the road, my father would swing his arm back and forth over the front seat hoping to hit one of us. He never did. The threats were next, ” Keep this up and we’re going home.” That generally quieted us down as we all loved the beach.

My favorite beach story, which I know I’ve told here before, merits retelling. It has become a family favorite repeated often when we’re together. My brother and I were tossing rocks into the water, and my mother told us to stop. We did, but a few minutes later she started yelling at us, “I told you to stop and now which one of you has hit me on the head?” We were dumbfounded as we had actually listened to her and stopped throwing rocks. We ran over and found a seagull had hit my mother dead center in the head. We told her, and she started gagging (my mother was a gagger, even when changing our diapers) as she ran to the water screaming for us to help wash it out of her hair. We did, but we laughed quietly the whole time. Only our shaking shoulders gave us away.

“I’m wearing a garbage bag. I was put on my own worst-dressed list.”

June 13, 2011

Today is much like the last few days: cloudy, chilly and damp. It will stay in the 50’s, but I’m okay with that. Hot days will come soon enough. I have a list of errands today, none of them fun or exciting. Gracie would disagree. The dump is on the list.

My father loved his town dump. He went every Sunday and always tried to get one of us to go with him. Any weekend guests, including friends of mine from school, were generally coerced to take what we used to call the tour. The dump in those days was filled with tall piles of trash and had lots of seagulls flying overhead making all sorts of noise. My father would wend his way around the piles then add his contribution. The dump was easily visible from the highway. The birds gave it away. But now, the dump has changed, and my father would be keenly disappointed. The piles of trash have given way to recycle bins and trash bins and it has no seagulls. From the highway, all you can see is giant grass hills where the piles of trash used to be.

The house next door is a summer rental. It has never had anyone living there full time. The owners come up from New York before the start of the season to get the house ready. They mow the weeds in the front and back and put out the plastic deck furniture. That’s it for outside maintenance. At the end of the summer they’ll be back to mow again and to put the furniture away for the winter. The house is pretty simple with shingles (or shakes as some of you call them) on all four sides, no painting necessary. The front yard has pine chips instead of a lawn, no mowing necessary. Every Saturday the renters haul out the trashcans to the road and the trash truck comes. A couple of times I added a stinky trash bag to the pile. The alternative was to put it in my trunk until the next day, but even that one day is too long for stinky trash to sit enclosed in a hot trunk. I don’t ever meet the renters. I just hope they’re quiet and too tired to stay out on their deck too late. I almost called the police once because of noise. Our town has an ordinance about noise after 10. I held off, but I’m getting older and crankier and less tolerant. I just hope this summer’s crop is a quiet one.

“Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good action; try to use ordinary situations.”

April 14, 2011

4″ of rain fell yesterday. It started raining the night before then poured all of yesterday. We even had thunder to give the rain a bit of spice. Today it’s 50°, and the sun is lurking behind light gray clouds. Gracie is busy watching the men clean the yard across the street. Their blowers were the first things I heard this morning. Today is one of Gracie’s favorite days: dump day. We’ll go as soon as I finish loading the car with my cardboard, bottles, magazines and newspapers. Did I mention the trash? She would have loved the old dump with piles of refuse and seagulls everywhere. The dump now has bins for all the recycling and bigger bins for the trash, and there are no seagulls.

When we lived in South Yarmouth, my father used to love to go to the dump. Every Sunday morning, he’d ask if anyone wanted to go with him. Guests were in big trouble as they were usually dragged along as if the dump was a tourist destination. I used to be able to see the old dump from the highway. The seagulls were always circling hoping to find a morsel. That dump too has been replaced, and from the highway, all I can see are green hills where the old dump used to be.

I sometimes drive by our old house in South Yarmouth. The only changes in the forty plus years since I lived there are an addition added to the kitchen side and a fence in the back. My bedroom was on the first floor as was my brother’s. I’m often tempted to stop and peek in the windows, but I can still see every room in my mind’s eye. It’s the same with the house we left to move to the cape. I remember every piece of furniture in every room. In Ghana, my house was small, four rooms, and I know every one of them as if I still lived there. My bedroom had a wall of slat windows, and I actually made curtains. They were of brown Ghanaian cloth with a design. I cut then hemmed then used string to hold them across the windows. In the living room, the light bulb hung from a long wire. I made a shade from a Bolga basket, the same ones you can now buy from catalogs. I cut a hole in the top and used pieces of a wire hanger to hold the bulb. The shade left a small circle of light on the floor below it. During the rainy season, the only time we had bugs, the circle under the lampshade was always filled with dead ones from the night before.

Well, enough with the memories. I need to get to the dump.

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