Category: Birds

Galveston Winter

There are some people who look forward to winter. This type of cold weather folk can’t wait for  the first report of powdery snow on their favorite slope so they can dress in thermal finery and ascend a mountain where, once at the summit, strap 2x4s to there frozen feet and hurl themselves off risking broken bones and frostbite. The roaring fire and  a tankard of IPA in the lodge are the perfect end to a thrilling day of cheating death. In my past, ski resorts were a great gig for a cover band, good money and dinner show hours. But it was always cold and, since I consider anything below 60 F freezing, I never looked forward to Vermont in January. When I lived in New York, I could tolerate winter only because inclement weather was an excuse to stay inside and I could dry my towels on the radiator. 

Photo by Josh Amparan on Pexels.com

Now that I live within spitting distance of Mexico, I can’t complain about frigid weather too much or use it as justification for being lazy. Except when it is really, really frigid. When the mercury plummets to 18 F and icy precipitation creates a clear candy shell on sidewalks and statues in the Northeast people shrug it off as another nasty day. In the South, those conditions create a sort of surreal pandemonium. You may recall one such day in 2021 when an arctic blast shut Houston down for a week and Gulf beaches were polluted with the carcasses of sea life. It was almost Biblical. 

Here is one man’s account in verse form:

Galveston Winter
Twenty pelicans sail by in jagged formation. 
The beach is lead and mist. 
Wind whips the crispy, brown fronds of tropical transplants; victims of the big freeze. 

Just like the fish that washed ashore to ferment 
On the sand stinking surströmming. 
A feast for gulls who turn up their snobbish beaks 
Preferring purloined corn chips and french fries. 

The grackles laugh. 
They are amused by everything: 
Death
	Pelicans struggling against a squall 
		Broken glass in a hopping man’s bare foot

I get the joke, too. 
Fish don’t wear sweaters
Idiots don’t wear shoes 
And palms should not wander too far North of Bogotá. 

But laughing at a pelican is just plain cruel. 

Life’s Simple Pleasure

Nothing ruins a cup of joe like fugitive grounds who escaped the filter's tight weave. Sipping and spitting the tiny, soggy pebbles from the tip or your tongue like watermelon seeds across a summer lawn as the sweet juice trickles down your chin. Some say that is half the fun. 

I should sample more of life’s simple pleasures: marveling at birds, laughing at squirrels. But there is nothing simple about either, to be honest. It took eons to evolve from a T-Rex to a Robin. And the antics of a squirrel are really a pattern of convoluted signals used in competition for acorns. 
I might enjoy a slice of freshly baked bread if it weren’t for the fact that this simple pleasure is a complex carbohydrate probably involving the chemical diagram for methylbutanol. 

Coffee and bread. In France, that is all they want for breakfast, maybe a cigarette. In Texas, the line of cars in the drive through of Chick-fil-A is known for blocking traffic on the highway as morning diners wait for fried chicken on a biscuit. 

I typically skip breakfast just to spite those who claim it is the most important meal of the day. And as we all know, spiting know-it-alls is one of life’s simple pleasures.

T-Rex to Robin in only 65 million years. Do Not Feed Yourself to Wildlife.

Swan

swan

I have nothing against the duck

They are very well and good

The emerald sheen on the mallard head

In the flesh or a decoy of wood

Yet sometimes they hint of discarded old shoes

On the banks filthy and wet

Then in glides the swan and all that is foul

We are obliged to forget