Newcomers

I fired up the weed whacker on Saturday morning and gave the grass down along the road a nice buzz cut. I found some road litter tossed out by passersby and a moist soft spot in the earth where my gray water drainage system must eventually settle out. The grass is tall enough that I consider it a mini-forest. I wonder how tall it might get if left alone, but the fire marshal looks for science projects like mine, so my fine experiment is now discontinued. The neighbor across the road stirred from his normal quiet activities to come over and chat with me about life on his side of the road, where he has lived for over forty years with his mother, who was recently deceased. Neighbors nearby me have known each other for long periods of time, but because of the rural lay-out of the land do not see each other very much. Fences, sheds, and trees also help to hide us from one another.

My muscles usually have an adverse reaction when I handle the weed whacker for very long, so I did only a portion of the work on Saturday. When the heat of the late morning began to slow me down I set the machine aside and went down and laid on the beach for a couple or three hours. I need to condition my skin for a couple of weeks of Hawaiian weather coming up soon. A lot of people had the same idea. They must also know that you grab good beach weather when it is available, as fog can move in over us at any time and stay for a day, a week, or a month. The Pacific seems to be a little warmer than usual this year. Many of the beach goers hopped right into the water and bobbed around in the waves with much eagerness. I have grown out of the habit of jumping in, but this may be the summer I renew my old pleasure of becoming one with the sea.

More weed whacking on Sunday morning, moving off the road with my gas-powered machine and up onto the hillside above me. Long blackberry vines stretch quickly and interlock with one another to develop a nearly impenetrable network that I must break up if I hope to be able to get around on the property. My wife reminded me that on this one particular section of hill is where I had a heat stroke some ten years ago that nearly killed me. A hot day and me drinking no water caused me to become dehydrated. My brain began shutting down my body functions until my younger daughter found me lying unconscious in the hot sun, and call the paramedics. Three days later in the hospital in a state of delirium I finally pulled together and was able to return to life with all my normal capabilities. I am fortunate to be alive, and have learned to not push the limits when working outdoors, especially in the heat. Weed whacking days reinforce my desire to remain cautious and careful. Before the heat stroke I could endure the heat, but have been advised that someone who has had a heat stroke is more susceptible to having one again. So I drink lots of water and don’t stay long in the hot sun.

We have an abundance of crows this year. I don’t recall seeing very many crows in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but now they constantly fly over our house. I watched a crow and a red-tailed hawk fight in the sky over what must have been territorial rights. The crows are rude, noisy, intrusive, whereas the hawks are silent, majestic, and agile in the sky as they circle over tree tops and effortlessly lift upward on the slightest breeze. Many of the small song birds seem to have become intimidated by the crows, as I have not seen as many of the different colored species as usual for this time of year. Just one season with these visiting crows and I am already tired of them. An article in the paper says that they have come to the San Francisco Bay Area and outlying communities because they have found an easy life for themselves. The urban and suburban neighborhoods have created a habitat to which they can easily adapt and flourish. If I could only turn myself into a human scarecrow for the summer perhaps they would go elsewhere. One or two on occasion would be fine, but they seem to have brought in all their aunts, uncles, cousins, and nephews and are taking up squatters rights. Even the pesky blue jays that frequent my kitchen window bird feeder seem a little exasperated with these uninvited newcomers.

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