Olympic Lows….

I’ve enjoyed the Winter Olympics…not the actual Olympics but the backstories.  I’m not much into cold weather sports…or just cold weather.  I do enjoy the stories of what the athletes have overcome to get to where they are.  The Nigerian bobsled team, an American soldier who had to train for the bobsled while serving in the sands of a far-off land…you get the idea.  What I haven’t understood is the hatred directed at some of them.

My case in point is Lindsay Vonn.  I admit I haven’t really followed her career, hanging on her every run.  I did make note that she was a pretty, blonde haired girl who liked to go fast and live on the edge.  She reminded me of all the pretty blond girls who wouldn’t give me the time of day…back in the day.  I didn’t hold it against her and watched replays of her more memorable moments.

I held my breath watching some of her more cringe-worthy crashes.  A mutilated knee or a broken arm, being airlifted from the slopes.  Injuries that could have ended many careers but not hers.  She chose to work to overcome and compete in one more Olympic game…and dedicated it to her grandfather.  You would think people could cut her a little slack.

I admit to cringing, too, when it became newsworthy that she was dating Tiger Woods but then again, he is the Tiger.  I’ve made a few missteps when it came to affairs of the heart…I think.  At my age, it’s a bit hard to remember.  I do remember that none were newsworthy.

But oh my, she made the worst mistake of her life.  When asked a question, she told the truth.  “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the President.”   She further went on to disparage the President by saying that she wouldn’t go to the White House if she won.  How bold and audacious…how completely unpatriotic, to tell the truth when asked the question.  She was racing for her country, herself and her recently deceased grandfather…but, not the President.

Can we not overlook a little faux pas?  Can we not overlook not racing for our President or visiting him if she won?  Can we not give her some thumbs up for standing by her beliefs even if we disagree with them?  Must we boycott or cry out for cancellation because someone doesn’t agree with our position?

Was it so egregious, we cannot give a pass to a woman who has been an inspiration to other young women…and men I would guess?  Can we not give her a participation trophy for doing her best?  Can we not just say “Thanks for the efforts?”  No, she was refusing to go to the White House, and for some reason, it is an unpatriotic travesty.  Many are happy…an ungrateful US athlete failed.

I wonder if any Olympic athlete woke up this morning and said to themselves, “This one’s for you Donnie T?”  Another question might be, “Should they?”  Are we so filled with hatred we must glorify OUR athletic failures for answering a question with truth?  Should all athletes just give up their First Amendment rights, just because they are athletes?  I would say our friendly Russian trolls have done their jobs well…or maybe they didn’t really have to.

Don Miller writes on varying subjects, not all are subjects that bother him so.  If interested you can find him at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

 

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Thoughts and Prayers….

PESSIMISM WARNING! I hate to pee in your Cheerios, but nothing will change. We are first in mass shootings, first in gun deaths, nearly half in suicides. More than any county of the “civilized” world, not at war. But nothing will change. We make it about anything other than intelligent gun control or an in-depth study of our violent culture and how we perpetuate it. We don’t want to spend money on education to lift up people, we would rather spend it on prisons. We would rather erect a wall than take a serious look at our own culture and its motivations and the dangers from within.

It must be about mental illness, and it is, even though we’ve made it easier for the mentally ill to possess guns. We put the killer under a microscope, scrutinize and debate race, or religion or immigration. If we can’t hang the murderer on one of those excuses we make it about politics or gun free zones or sanctuary cities or Mars ascending into Venus…when it should be about our culture. We offer our thoughts and prayers.

I consider myself a religious man, if not, a spiritual one, but our thoughts and prayers are wearing thin especially when it involves the same kind of kids and schools I taught in for forty-three years. The thinness is because I believe nothing will change. It is too much a part of our culture. We are a violent group, some with Bibles in one hand, AR-15s in the other. “Thou Shalt not Kill” should have an addendum. Thou Shalt not Kill unless it abridges my right to purchase and use an AR-15.

I probably shouldn’t be focused on the AR-15…although there is a good reason. From Aurora to Stoneman Douglas High, it seems to be the weapon of choice, whether due to popularity or ease of use, I don’t know. We’ve weaponized ourselves with all sorts of arms. I have two handguns and a shotgun myself…and a rock, car, butter knife and a fork.

There seems to be something about our manhood that goes hand in hand with a gun or rifle…and the violent tendencies we hold dear. Do they make a perfume “Ode de Gunpowder?” I’ll write about women just as soon as there is a female mass shooter. Why are our males more violent than females? They are not, women just like to inflict pain over a longer period…. Sorry.

Our country was forged on violence…from the very beginning and we glorify it. From an “Eye for an Eye,” to the cult of the warrior in the many wars we have fought, to the dubious history of the Western gunfighter. Our video games, television programs, and movies glorify violence and they have an effect. It is still about the Alpha male with the gun in one hand and the adoring, scantily clad female secured with the other. At least we’ve added movies with scantily clad, female superheroes. Hum…sex, and gunpowder….

So, as pessimistic as it sounds, I don’t think we will ever change. I believe we will continue to lead in categories we say we don’t want to lead in and continue to offer our thoughts and prayers instead of taking a meaningful look at our culture and what our culture breeds. Because we won’t take a meaningful look I expect the violence to increase…but I’m not sending any more thoughts and prayers.

Addendum

It is worse than I even thought it could be. I’m a retired teacher and coach…and a father and a grandfather. The Sandy Hooks, along with the dozens of mass shootings occurring in schools since then, hits me hard. One of the Florida school shooting victims is the son of a former student. That makes it personal. Not that anything will be done. If twenty dead first graders can’t affect change, nothing will. I would say our guns are more important than our children.

THE MAGICAL, MORONIC, MANUFACTURED CELEBRATION OF LOVE

I blogged this last year…it’s still relevant.

cigarman501

I despise Valentine’s Day. How did we get from the celebration of a Roman festival to the madness of today? A manufactured, merchandize driven celebration of love…or the realization of being quite alone. At least if you are depressed there is plenty of chocolate to raise your spirits and increase your waistline. The Valentine’s candy and cards at Wally World has been displayed since the day after Christmas.

A bit of history. One historical version suggests THE FESTIVAL began as the honoring of the Goddess Juno during the Roman Feast of Lupercalia. Young men and women drew names from a jar, pairing themselves for the duration of the feast and sometimes for the year. This was before the use of car or room keys in a fishbowl I guess. Yes, some would fall in love and sometimes even marry. Ain’t that romantic…or moronic?

Farther down the road known as history…

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Two Dolla’ Pitchers….

 

Two-dollar pitchers of beer.  Bigggggg pitchers.  Cheap beer even forty years ago…and a potentially lethal elixir when consumed in the dark, hole in the wall bar named Dino’s Lounge.   Stir in for flavor a local, bluegrass “party” band named the “Stoney Creek String Band”, one might think they were consuming a magical concoction that made one bulletproof.  Insert a shapely blond in jeans and a white men’s shirt as a swizzle stick…the story might take a twisted route.  One might find himself married.

Apparently, the Seventies were an obscure and somewhat blurry period of my life.  Well truthfully, I was stone cold sober when I asked her to marry me…maybe I should have remained incapacitated until the Eighties and I assure you a hangover would not have been as bad.  Another bad news flash, I ain’t tellin’ this story.  There are people still alive who just would not understand.

I’ve never had a drinking problem…not that I didn’t try to.  Drinking seemed to be the cool thing to do and I could have had an advanced degree in two dolla’ pitchers of beer and Jack Daniels “Likker” drinks.  I failed my dissertation.  The times I stepped one or five beers or mixed drinks over the line, I didn’t much like the outcome the next day. Whether it was the hangover from hell I woke up with or the person from hell I woke up with, both were powerfully painful occasions and I was smart enough to learn from them…after a while.  I find it interesting how well I remember the hangovers…the people not so much.  That may be a blessing.

I learned from my mistakes which means I have survived my own stupidity.  Despite the pain of my stupidity, I look back fondly at the people who live in those memories…but there was that proposal…and its acceptance.  In all honesty, I look back fondly on the blond headed swizzle stick, she was a wonderful woman and my divorce was just that, my divorce.

It’s social media’s fault I’m percolating over my misspent youth…well, misspent young adulthood…I was a late bloomer.  It could be the gray and rainy day too.  “Rainy days and Mondays….”  Gray and rainy days tend to make me percolate over misspent youth and my attention was drawn to a post about a former teaching peer, now deceased, which makes it more depressing.

My memory took me to one of those two dolla’ pitcher nights, Dino’s Lounge and Stoney Creek.  A table surrounded by young men who still had their hair, harassing the pretty waitress as if we really had a chance and leaving a big tip just in case.  Young men, friends who shared embellished stories of conquests past and ones we hoped would come.  Young men with ready laughs and all their teeth.  A brother, former coaching peers, a band director and a couple of former players.  I remember it was a fun night long ago…but that might be those two dolla’ pitchers.

Somehow, we all survived to find other ways to die.  Several are no longer with us…gone too quickly, but we all survived our foolishness.  We all survived to be fine, upstanding if boring, citizens.  Those young men still live in those memories…they will live as long as I live, along with two dolla’ pitchers, Dino’s Lounge and the Stoney Creek String Band.

Footnote:  There is a Stoney Creek Band which still exists after forty years in the business.  They must be good and they play bluegrass too.   It’s not my Stoney Creek Band which exists only in my memories.  I’m sure there is a Dino’s Lounge somewhere.   If it has two dolla’ pitchers, don’t bother telling me, I ain’t going.

Don Miller is a multi-genre writer.  His works may be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Steak Chips….

 

I never know what will trigger a memory.  They just occur…a benefit from age?  Great, I’m glad there is one benefit from age…wisdom certainly isn’t.

Recently it was an unlikely trigger…Dr. Oz of daytime tv fame.  I walked in to find him prancing from my tv screen discussing how to make hamburgers moist despite overcooking…as in cooking to well done.  Well done and then some…something my grandmother would have done to hamburger or steak.  The young man being interviewed was using a “panade.”  Being as country as a fresh cow patty I looked the word up. Suddenly I was back in a small kitchen watching her making her most special, well done, yet moist hamburgers.

My grandmother grew up in a time when meat was slaughtered and processed on the farm…in not the most sterile conditions.  There was a disease, trichinosis, caused by a roundworm that could be transferred from undercooked meat to humans.  This led me to believe that all steaks were…well…cracker like…dry and tending to make snapping sounds when cut…like a potato chip.

Now, I don’t want to give you the wrong idea.  We weren’t eating premium cuts of meat either.  We were the ones who made “eating high on the hog” or in this case, cow, possible.  Generally, we ate variations of round steak, cubed and then turned into a cracker, may be covered in a milk gravy or covered in a beading and then turned into a cracker before being covered in a milk gravy.  Yes, she overcooked them and taught my mother to overcook them as well.

I didn’t know any better until I went off to college.  I didn’t know steak came anyway other than chip like…and cubed.  A young lady I was dating suggested that I might want to try my filet mignon cooked less than well done.  During those days if a young lady I was dating had suggested I might try a dead cow’s hoof raw, I probably would have eaten it with a smile on my face.  The things you might do for love I guess…or lust.  Despite thinking it was just heated past raw, I found it to be moist, tender, quite tasty and not the least bit cracker-like.  I also didn’t pronounce it correctly either, “fill-it-mig-non.”

As bad as Nannie’s steaks were, her hamburgers were heavenly…despite having every bit of pink cooked right out of them.  They were moist because she added her own version of a “panade.”  A French word, it is a paste made from stale bread and milk or a word that means, “A state or experience of misery or poverty.”  I know my grandmother and grandfather experienced poverty, even before the Great Depression.  Just not sure about the misery but I doubt it.  Gee, the things you learn if you just pay attention.

She didn’t use bread as I remember, she used oatmeal or crushed up crackers.  Nannie also added sautéed onions and used a spice list I’ve never been able to recreate.  I’ve tried, repeatedly with different variations, and have only created my own version of a fried meatloaf…not bad, but not the same at all.  Boo, hoo, hoo.

My grandmother was a good cook, but it usually involved chicken, fried or in a pot pie.  Maybe wildlife like cooter soup or squirrel dumplings and for clarification, in those days a cooter was a turtle.  I know today’s word usage might cast some shade on that dish, but turtle soup was quite tasty…much tastier than her steak chips.

Thank you, Dr. Oz.  You have reinvigorated my efforts and brought back memories of the sound of beef patties landing in a greased, hot cast iron pan, moist and tasty hamburgers on white bread, a small kitchen and the woman who toiled there.  Ummmm, ummmm…wait, you mean I’ll probably use ground turkey instead of beef?  Roasted not fried?  No lard?  Oh well, thanks for the memories anyway.

Don Miller’s writer’s page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Cornfields…in My Mind

 

It’s early February, it’s been cold here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge…not Chicago or Moscow cold…but for us thin-blooded Southerners it’s been damn cold.  It’s warmer today but that’s because it is raining to beat the band or to beat my metal roof.  Despite the elements, thanks to my son-in-law’s mother, I’m thinking about cornfields.  A bit early in the season to be thinking about cornfields but my thoughts tell me Kimberly’s memories of cornfields are a little different from mine…maybe.

Kimberly, Justin’s mother, posted a cornfield meme extolling the joys of running and playing in the cornfields of her youth and the memories they elicit.  I’m happy for Kimberly and her memories…mine are different and not the least bit warm and fuzzy.

I tend to lump cornfields and hayfields together…except I don’t eat hay.  Corn I love…in any form including liquid and I’m not speaking of corn syrup.  Sorry, the train went off the rails for a moment.

I remember corn and hayfields as places to stay away from if possible.  It was impossible for me to stay away from them, it was part of the job…or just part of my childhood.  There was always a lot of work associated with them both and to this day I break out in hives when I see square bales drying in a hayfield.

I associate corn and hayfields with loneliness, extreme heat, humidity, stinging bugs and venomous snakes.  You’ve never been hot and sweaty like cornfield or hayfield hot.  Drowning in your own sweat hot.  You’ve never been scared like flipping a hay bale over and finding a moccasin scared, the wrong end of the snake bound up in the bale.  You’ve never been scared like plowing a cornfield near the bottoms and having a black snake fall out of a tree and land on your shoulder scared.  You’ve never been stung like stepping into a yellow jacket’s nest stung…wherever, it really doesn’t have to be in a cornfield or hayfield.

As scary or painful as those examples were, I associate corn and hayfields most with loneliness.  You’ve never been lonely until being set out on the river bottoms, watching the old Chevy flatbed disappear.  Hoe in hand, a paper bag lunch of Vienna sausages and soda crackers, a jar of water wrapped in newspaper to keep it cool, knowing you are going to be there ALL DAY LONG, ALONE.  Alone with only your thoughts, your fears, the heat and humidity, the stinging bugs and the reptiles.  Endless rows of corn, thousands of miles long.  All day until you saw that old Chevy flatbed coming back to get you.  Hoping, as the thunderheads built on the other side of the river, that that old truck would get there before the thunderstorms and the lightning they would bring.

I do have good memories too, not about playing in the cornfields or hayfields, but the aftermath.  Laughing with my Uncle James, Mike and Rusty…after the hayin’ day was done.  Playing football in the fields and scratching yourself to death if you fell in the stubble.  Watching the sweat fall from my grandmother’s brow as she cut sweet corn to cream or turn into soup mix.  Eating that first roastin’ ear of the season.  Maybe tastin’ just a touch of corn likker.

Thanks, Kimberly…thanks for triggering a bright and warm memory on a drab, gray day.

For more of Don Miller’s writings, you may find him at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The Super Bowl and the Politics of Losing

 

It’s Super Bowl Sunday!  If polls are to be believed, I will join over one hundred million other fans watching the world championship of football.  Unless something disastrous happens before this evening’s game, I will watch my fifty-second game.  I’ve watched them all, dating back to the first one when the Bart Starr led Packers easily defeated the Len Dawson led Chiefs in what was not even called the Super Bowl.  It was the NFL-AFL Championship.  It doesn’t matter, I pulled for the wrong team…as usual.

The game has certainly changed…except for me pulling for the losing team.  I have actually rooted for the winner half a dozen times…maybe.  In some ways, it has become more about the concerts, half-time show and commercials than the game itself.  I must admit I have always enjoyed the commercials…especially the Budweiser Frogs and Clydesdales.  And there was the one featuring a scantily clad and pubescent Britney Spears dancing under erect Pepsi Cola bottles, which popped their lids in a foaming conclusion…after a Viagra commercial.  Very poor timing.

What I’ve not enjoyed, is seeing teams I pull for demolished.  As I look back, the line from the Steely Dan tune, “Deacon Blues”, comes to mind.

“They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues”

So just call me Deacon Don I guess.

On to the politics of the game.  Kneeling versus Standing…or Standing versus Kneeling, boycotting versus watching.  Because my father was a World War II veteran, I will…probably never kneel…even though I believe their cause is just.  Because my father was a World War II veteran I’ll never berate those who do, and I’ll never boycott.  It may be the biggest game of the year, but it is still a game…an expensive game but a game none-the-less.  It’s not life or death…and despite what they might say, it isn’t war.

I find it interesting people will wish failure upon others because of their political views.  Sure, some of the people playing the game are spoiled and I would say all are overpaid…just like in other businesses.  According to many, it’s just Capitalism.  The league and owners are getting rich and commercials cost way too much.  Just Capitalism… right?  Some of the players are criminals…just like in other businesses.  Some are not very loveable…just like in other businesses. I would also comment that an old white guy probably shouldn’t comment on the trials and tribulations young black men might go through despite what they make now because it’s not about money.

What really concerns me are the folks who make their livings off professional football who aren’t players, coaches or owners.  The groundskeepers, the guy on the street hawking knock-off t-shirts, the folks working in concessions, even the folks working in the Wilson factory producing the footballs for the game…over three hundred.  These people rely upon the game of football for their livelihoods.  Do we wish to put them out of work because of a political stand?  I don’t.

Art, and I believe there is an art to all forms of athletics, has always reflected the politics of the times.  From Dante’s Inferno to Common Sense to “For What It’s Worth” to present day Rap and in between.  Politics and social upheavals have fueled many art forms and people have used their forums to express their beliefs…and their protest.  They have the right, and we need to protect those rights at all costs…and yes, you have the same right to turn it off or change the channel.  I also reserve the right to believe wishing failure upon my friends and neighbors is stupid…even if I don’t know them, and even if they pull for a different team…or political party.

Above all, and most important…Gooooo Loser!

Don Miller writes on varying subjects…some might be considered interesting.  Please go to his author’s page and check him out.  https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

A Little Humor Please…!

I yearn for the days when Chevy Chase fell…and everyone laughed.  Mr. Chase, a comedian, was poking fun at one of the most athletic presidents in our history, Gerald Ford.  Athletic, but a bit of a klutz.  Something I can relate to…the klutzicism, not the athleticism.  Wow, I just invented a word.  The thing is, when Chase fell, everyone laughed…including President Ford.  Our politicians, and “the two sides of one bird” aren’t making us laugh very much…nor are they laughing.

Are things so bad that we can’t laugh at ourselves?  Just look for a little humor.  Does everything have to be so serious…morbidly serious.  Do all jokes have to be divisive?  Must we insist that every political statement is followed by insistence we boycott the poor stiff who made it?

I know there are subjects we shouldn’t poke fun at but after seeing the American political experiment in action for over sixty years…the President ain’t one of those subjects.  I would say anyone involved in politics ain’t one of them.  Hey, remember President Johnson and his “Johnson?”  That was a real knee slapper.  Double entendre?  Possibly, I wasn’t there.

Just saw a news report stating that a train carrying GOP congressmen ran into a garbage truck.  Wish one of the passengers on the truck hadn’t died for many reasons, one of which is there is something humorous about boarding the “Trump Train” and hitting a garbage truck.  Am I terrible?  I’m sorry…for their loss.

It’s either humorous or President Obama owned the trash company, purchased through several shell companies, and bought with money loaned to him by Hillary from the bribes she received from the sale of the Uranium One business.  Again, I am sorry someone died. (Special thanks to Max Holland for starting me on this runaway train.)

I have hopes that when we elect a new president, he or she is a comedian…not red nose or floppy shoes funny, but funny…maybe Gerald Ford funny.

If you take offense to my humor I suggest you go look for yours and come back later.  Love and Kisses.

If you aren’t going to boycott me and are interested in reading more of Don Miller’s wanderings, try https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

 

Matilda Waltzing….

The haunting melody of the Australian ballad, Waltzing Matilda, the unofficial Australian national anthem, has been waltzing through my mind all day. Blame it on a 5:30 post celebrating Australia Day 2018…or if the news is to be believed, protesting it. Think of a “Downunder” Columbus Day with similar protests.

“Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled:
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”

The old folk song is about neither dancing nor a woman named Matilda but that is a different story.

I remember when I first heard the tune, during the ending of the scariest movie I ever saw, “On The Beach.” It was a Cold War doomsday movie starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner. It ended badly, very badly, with everyone dead from radiation poisoning caused by a nuclear war that didn’t even take place in their hemisphere. Hum mm, I hope there is nothing timely about this.

I’ve carried on nearly a lifetime love affair with all things Australian. I’m sure a romanticized and glorified Australia although the Aussies might disagree. Odd for someone who rarely sets foot out of the Carolinas much less the United States. Blame it on my grandmother and her subscription to National Geographic. I was thumbing through her old issues in search of an education…not one she would have approved of. I was searching for scantily clad native girls and found an article on the island continent. It even had a pullout…not the kind you might find in a Playboy…a pullout map. Serendipity ensued, and I read it along with any other offerings National Geographic had published. One offering even had a picture of scantily clad sunbathers on a Sydney beach. Much like the jolly jumbuck in the swagman’s Tucker bag, I was ensnared.

Not long after, I would read a Zane Grey oater, “The Wilderness Trek,” again my grandmother’s fault. I had two choices as a child. Sit under a tree and perfect my reading skills or go out into the sunlit, humid fields and chop weeds. While I had ample opportunities handling a hoe, I became an avid reader.

Grey’s tale was the story of two American cowboys helping to lead a “mob” of cattle on the first “trek” through the Outback and three years’ worth of foul weather, fouler “cattle duffers”, crocodile-infested river crossings, and marauding aborigines. I reread the book online a week ago after making contact with a WordPress follower who is from Australia. I am so sorry I told her about the book. It is sooooo not politically correct. Well, it was written in 1929. At least it ended well. Ole Curly and Sterl led them to safety and sloped off with the cattlemen’s daughters to boot. Boy Howdy!

The Australia of my youthful mind has followed me. I even have two Australian Cattle Dogs, Madaline and Matilda. Briefly, in 1973, I considered traveling to Australia when I found that teachers would receive land in exchange for five years of service. Seemed like a great adventure until life intervened along with my first ex-wife.

I guess I’ll never make it…maybe. As long as there are programs like Animal Planet and movies like Quigley Down Under, I’ll keep the romantic dream alive. Until then I guess I will just keep humming Waltzing Matilda.

If you are unsure of the song, Waltzing Matilda, this is one of my favorite versions from the 2009 Australia Day celebration…they are all my favorite versions.

For more of Don’s “Waltzings”, please go to https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM and at least like his page.

Birds of a Feather?

Normally I don’t use the word blessing when talking about this time of year, but this Saturday was one of those wondrous days we occasionally have in the foothills of the Blue Ridge.  Warm and bright for a late January day.  Warm and bright enough to melt the left-over snow and ice from a few days ago…I hope.  The sky a brilliant blue and there is not a cloud in the sky.  A great day for a walk…or a great day to sit in the backyard with a Blue Moon and a Dutch Master contemplating nothing of any importance.  I did both instead of gathering up and disposing of the winter yard waste from the wildlife refuge that is my backyard.  My wife is out visiting…hopefully, she won’t notice that I have done nothing except deal with my own mental self-health.

I’m watching my birds now.  I can claim them as my own…I feed them, and they live close by.  They love the black sunflower seed I dutifully put in my bird feeders and are flitting hither and yon. The squirrels and chipmunks like it too…and I don’t care.  Redbirds, titmice, chickadees, wrens and my favorite, the little upside-down birds, the nuthatch and downy woodpeckers all visit, eat their fill and fly off to who knows where.  There is a redhead woodpecker and a pileated woodpecker that visits occasionally.  The pileated woodpecker seems to laugh at me with its distinctive and goofy call.

Underneath the feeders, I see robins, their red chests lying about the nearness of spring.  They are joined by brown thrashers, mourning doves and an occasional tanager.  The cooing sounds made by the doves are somewhat forlorn but not so forlorn it ruins my bright mood.  I’m also sure the tanager will tell his friends.

Occasionally I see an indigo bunting or a bluebird, the reflected sun flashing blue off its tiny body as it zips through my yard.  For the life of me, I can’t entice them to stay.  I see them on the fence looking in at the free-for-all at the feeders.  Are they resting or trying to make up their minds about the food I am offering?  They seem to prefer the open, flat area around my garden.  Oh well.

It won’t be long until the feeders draw the gold and purple finches.  I’ll start adding thistle to the feeding area when I see my first one.  I thought I saw a male goldfinch this morning except for the red topnotch.  Turns out it is a refugee from more northern climes called a redpoll.  I guess he was lost or just looking for warmer temperatures.

With the spring, if it ever gets here, there will be others making their presence known.  The whistle of “my” redtail hawks, the clucking of turkeys, the lonesome calls of the whippoorwills along with owls hooting from the hillsides behind my house.  Even with the hum of mosquitoes, I can’t wait.

My grandmother was a lover of birds, watching the feeder as she made biscuits in her kitchen or listening to their calls while working in the field.  Telling her oldest grandson that we were hearing a mockingbird or a catbird.  She loved them, filling up spiral bound notebooks with descriptions, buying stamps with images of birds and painting pictures of the birds that populated her environment. It has taken me to my autumn years to appreciate the birds that populate my environment.  One more connection I have with my grandmother I guess.

I don’t reckon my birds are very concerned about government shutdowns, Dreamers or border security.  A wall is probably not going to keep them out…the birds I mean.  I think I’ll try to be more like my birds.  If it’s not a sweet sound, I’m probably not going to make it or allow myself to hear it.

Don Miller is a multi-genre writer who has written two fictional novels and four books of non-fiction.  If you are interested in further readings, please access his writer’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The picture of the pileated woodpecker came from the National Wildlife Federation at https://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/Food/Supplemental-Feeders.  It was taken by Beau Liddell.