March 20, 2010

The Hoover and his Lady

 A cedar waxwing, the presence of which will become apparent as you read.

I have a dear friend in prison in the deep South, who has given me permission to post anything he writes in his letters. This blog seems the appropriate place, what with everything Jesus said about visiting people in prison and what with so many American Christians ignoring Jesus' insistence on love because they're having too much fun hating homosexuals, to put this letter from him.

March 14, 2010:

Here in That Grey Area Between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead, . . .

I was nose to nose with a skunk the other night.

I've been smuggling cornbread, which I rarely eat anyhow, from the chow hall and scattering it for the birds outside by the windows that run alongside my bed. (Feel free to pick and choose how to better arrange the prepositional phrases in that sentence.)  It'd be nice to have been able to offer the birds something better (more birdseedy), but here in TGABLLLD, there you have it.  [Note:  I don't know what those letters stand for either.]

Most of my visitors are sparrow-y types that look like nothing so much as chipmunks with wings.  But I was graced with the appearance of a few yellow warblers, which have green hoods and backs and a big splash of bright vivid yellow on their chests.  From up close, the sight of them really lifts a man's spirits.
A fat and gorgeous fox squirrel has made a few appearances.  When he sits up to eat, in that charmingly prayerful stance, the sight of his strawberry blonde underside makes me swoon.

I commend his bravery -- he has to cross a fairly large open expanse to reach the rear of the dorm from the edge of the woods across the road, and I am certain Mr. and Mrs. Hawk (sidenote: they're always circling o'erhead and screaming, and such) would take a keen and fatal interest in his traverse.

Alas, the cornbread would be all gone (I would look out and say "All gone! - like you do to a baby) in the morning, and it was easy to surmise that Mr. Skunk was the responsible party.

Finally, I was awake and watching when he came around to hoover up all the cornbread.  I was leaning over the side of my bunk observing his curious culinary preference for cornbread rapidly rolled in dirt ("dirt-breaded") over plain cornbread.  He stopped what he was doing and came right up to the window, fearlessly meeting my gaze with his small shiny black eyes.

Mr. Skunk is now known as The Hoover, and his girlfriend, whom he brought to the pary last night, is Lady Hoover.

And I might as well go the whole hog, nature-talk-wise and reveal that I have now observed the cedar waxwing (I NEVER draw 'waxwing' in Scrabble), who really seems to have been designed by the Divine Artist strictly for our viewing pleasure.  It's a buff-colored bird EXCEPT they have a little bit of bright red and bright white -- just a touch, mind you --on the edge of the wing, and at the end of their fan tail is a stripe of brilliant yellow.

[Editorial note:  This is the moment when you return to the photo at the top of the page. If you make it big enough and squint, you can see both the spots of red and the brillliant yellow on the tail.]

Sigh.  Sigh.

I can usually avoid abyssal unhappiness . . .

Aw, Mary Jo, you know what I mean -- I can often overcome my circumscribed circumstances and insistently focus upon my many blessings -- including the sight of the cedar waxwing.  It's just that sometimes, and some days . . .


Back to me. I was diagnosed with breast cancer a few days ago (the diagnostics began at the same time my father was dying).  While on the whole I'm chipper enough to make people vomit, I'm having a frog-all kind of day today; so I'm in tune with Jack. All of my blessings, including spotting a ground hog day before yesterday and the sight of nine turtles sun-bathing on the banks of Beargrass Creek yesterday, not to mention health insurance, and yet it's just that sometimes, and some days . . .


Lisa Creech Bledsoe said...

I'm apparently just now catching up on your life. What a crazy ride you've been on lately. I wish, wish I could see you. Hug you. Be barked at by your chihuahua and sniffed in completely inappropriate ways by Koko.

Your friend in prison lives and writes evocatively. Power and glory in those simple stories. Reminds me of Mary Oliver a bit.

And you. You with your art, your meds, this surgery and your hats and so on. You are one of the most beautiful creatures on this earth. I keep being inspired by you.

Mary said...

It's a fairly big piece to come upon all at once, both in the living and in the reading. Above all my good spirits are because my variety of breast cancer has a 92% survival rate, which becomes a 98% survival rate with the one pill a day I'm taking for the next five years. And then there's the great god health insurance. Koko would be happy to sniff you at any moment, and Laramie will do her ping pong ball imitation and then dance on her hind legs for your enjoyment.