Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dogless Days and Cupola Nights

Every morning this August, I went down to the chicken house and called the hens out to range with the three guard roosters - Dot, Lefty, and Whitey.
Some harmonica clucking and a trail of black berries gets them away from the door fairly easily. The native blackberries are the biggest and sweetest here this year I have ever seen in the wild.
But most mornings the hens then went right back into the hen house as soon as they had snapped up all the berries , and I was back in the trailer, having a bowl of berries myself.

The chickens knew that those hot and humid days of Blackberry Summer were going to be like a great big light bulb sitting smack on their backs.

Chickens don't exactly know the future, but they know the weather and are very sensitive to everything that comes from above.
They also sensed that pretty damn soon, molten chunks of glowing matter might just possibly come streaking down from the sky. Because August is the month of the yearly Perseid meteor shower.

Chickens are well aware of it, but humans mostly don't notice because most people are either living inside the regional light bulbs or are still blind from the protracted and overblown fireworks of July. And anyway, most people wouldn't notice a shooting star unless they got hit by one.
As the rate of the meteor fall was just picking up in early August, when there was still a fair amount of water in the ponds, G and I sometimes watched the sky at night from on our backs in the middle of the round pond. Except for picking blackberries a to watch the sky at night, me and G spent as much time indoors as the hens did. We were cooking and tubbing in the day time, and up in the cupola at night... under the the wide screen of stars, with the occasional fucking thunderstorm blowing by.....mostly sound and furious clouds, like stampeding buffalo ghosts.

And with the moon racing through (don't look directly at it or you will be blinded) , lying there was all in all the greatest thrill since flying in dreams.
But Dot, Whitey, and Lefty, roosting on Davey's deck rail, were not amused. They muttered at the thunder, and when an occasional star streaked across their piece of sky, they made the clucking five syllable alarm that sounds like "Jesus fucking christ", and then the roosters in the chicken house would start it up a few beats behind, and they would continue until they all came into unison and then it gradually quieted down to a murmer and to a mere rumor.... until the next star alarm.

Yeah, chickens know that thunder storms and meteor showers and shit from above in general are just dandy until you get hit by something.
And now brother Davey knows too . He isn't quite beaten flat, but he looks like he has at the very least been struck by lightning several times. He has taken some hits. Maybe it is about over now .....the pace of the events has slowed down...and he is starting to come out of doors.

Here's the hit list:
In the dog days of August both of Davey's dogs died; his truck quit; his hard drive died so he lost all the data; a close old friend was put in jail for a few years; he heard that his child hood ex wife - missing since - April, was most probably murdered; one of his three college room mates whom he had not seen in forty years, and who had just in July refound each other.... and with whom he was planning a reunion here in August....died suddenly..... and then Davey strained his loin or his groin or something, when burying the second dog, so now he can't sit still to write.
Of course he doesn't write much even when he isn't thunderstruck . The point is that he has been knocked silly by all this, but I still say that , half drunk and with the flu, I myself could write his biography on an etch a sketch, in about half an hour.
I just can't do everything at once...even if G can.

And what about the trip I planned, hauling and poling the Arc up Cayuga through the great lakes Chain to Great Bear Lake on the Arctic sea? It's not entirely off the agenda, but it is at least a couple of years away at this point.
My work here isn't finished. I think I have managed to get the chicken range under control, but we are without dogs now, so other critters are drawing nearer. The skunks are back living under the chicken house, and that is good because the coons and every other sort of chicken killers will stay back a little, but the chickens, especially the roosters, do not control themselves without some help, and I don't think Davey is ready to get with it..

I wish it would rain, really rain. People think it has rained a lot, but it was only a lot of sound and furious clouds. The water-table is very low by my measure: The dug ponds here are as low as they were during the drought several years back that killed all the bass in the upper ponds. Either it hasn't been raining (however it may seem to sun bathers and container gardeners) or else someone is sucking the water out from under us. Maybe the miles and miles of Cargil salt mines under the lake are flooding . Or maybe the natural gas companies or Nestle company is coming at us sideways for their bottling or fracking water.

A cat came creeping around last night. I saw it. Black and white. The Roosters raised the ruckus call.

G got a ride into town with her friend from the inn, to get some vinegar and hickory- smoked salt She said that while she was there, she planned to peek in at Bridge House.


SallyElizabeth said...

There's a lot goin' on up there, William B. Warren, and most of it not so good for Brother Davey, who did look like he'd been struck by lightnin' last time I stopped by and that was just after one death and one imprisonment. Guess I knew his childhood ex-wife but can't really picture her anymore, and why would she be murdered? Davey was really lookin' forward to that reunion with the old fraternity boys, and now one of 'em is gone. Ya know, there were 10 people at a dinner for my 50th birthday and 3 of them are gone. The last two in the last two months, and one, the once great love of my life and the reason that Elizabeth Reed is writing about Death, even though she says it's a professional obligation. Hey, let me know when there's room in the cupola to look at those stars. I can see stars and take care of that B&W cat at the same time. Haven't seen those stars in 25 years, since we used to camp at Long Point. The stars over St. John are a different hemisphere, almost literally. Orion lies down on his side down there.

William Bonaparte Warren said...

Davey's family has been making him work lately, so he is starting to straighten p a bit.
Have yo never star-watched from the roof of yor own building?...one of Tiny Town's tiny, secret wildernesses. Back when the Somewhathard Bakery was downstairs, I use to keep chickens p n that roof. Only three hens. I fed them stale granola from the bakery and gave them packing boxes to nest in, bt they ranged free up there.
Not a bad styar-gazing platform, but, to overcome the city lights there, o have to tape together a couple of cardboard tubes from paper towels, and look throg them. Or through a megaphone, whichgives yo a biger vista and more chance of atching the action.
I gave the hens a kitty which they took to right away, and she grew up sleeping in the nesting boxes, bt never ate an egg unless somebody had already broken it. She ws the only cat I ever know that ctually sayt on eggs, and she probably would have rodd chicks. She was black and white like that cat that showed up around here again yesterday (Nick the rooster hooted it away) and like the cartoon cat Sylvester, which is what I called her until she got pregnant. I have no idea how Sylvia managed to get pregnant, but with kitties on the way, we all had to move.

William Bonaparte Warren said...

Sylvia would have brooded chicks

SallyElizabeth said...

So would I have brooded those eggs. It's a girl thing even for cats, you know. I'm not sure it's a great idea for Garlic to be wandering around down here, but if she's going to she's gonna miss the stars she's used to, too many lights. We've got two roofs, a low one over the bakery for White Star, which used to be called Green Star and once upon a time even Someareharder, is how I heard it said. The low roof belongs to the lady who has her windows on it and she's a lady lawyer so I wouldn't mess with her, plus she's got two dogs the size of one but still against the rules. The top roof is where you'd be closest and you can't get to that 'cept through the Boss's study. In other words, you have to go when he's up at his lake cottage and you have to have a key. I've got the key to all the keys here, and I'm just biding my time to see the stars here. But if Garlic were to wander in, I might push the schedule up a bit. Thanks for your advice about star gazing in town. It sounds better than your advice on feeding chickens and not very different from looking at the solar eclipse some years back on St. John. I was "bahn theah," as folk says where I come from. I was named Sally when Elizabeth Reed took me home from the Animal Shelter and she gave me the last name of the island but I think using her name next to mine and skipping this paternalistic bullshit about carrying on the family name is preferable. I'm gonna talk with your girl Garlic about names, you can bet on that. And maybe I'll even tell her what I was named before the Shelter lady came up with Sally, or maybe I won't. Elizabeth Reed didn't want to know and so didn't ask, but I've got some stories to tell too. Just like you two-legged writer types.