Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Michigan Photos

This is the Frankfort pier and lighthouse. My cabin door is the top post.

Michigan Vacation

Why are some cities so friendly, clean and great to visit?

Friday, March 13, 2009

The New Season

One of my friends, a world class birder, Jim McCarty (see his Plain Dealer, Thursday Inside and Out on birding) says that the new harbinger of Spring is the Killdeer. The robin has been usurped. World class birders from Cleveland echo this sentiment as Jeff Wert and Larry Rosche from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History state that the robin is often a permanent resident of the Buckeye State. It never leaves town. They state that the "killdeer, killdeer" sound of this recent prodigal to Cleveland is the new harbinger of Spring. My purpose here is not to refute these prestigious birders, but think of the sound of the killdeer. Please, it sounds like a plea, not a trumpet of the good things to come. Especially after a long winter here. And while the robin's sound is much sweeter, it is they that refute his claim to spring's preeminent position. I proudly submit a new hero of spring...the wild turkey.

The turkey's raucous gobble is a primordial call of sex, domination, power and freedom in the spring woods. If you have heard this powerful, throaty call in the spring, you are privy to one of the great sounds in wild America. To me, this is the real beginning of Spring. It is not a harbinger of spring as it is full spring by the time the first big birds begin a ritual of powehouse gobbling from the trees and forest floors. And although this call can be heard in the winter and other times of year, it is in the spring that it is at its most powerful and because, at least in Ohio, there is little foliage for the early part of the season, the call can be heard from miles. I submit this as my real spring. And it is about to begin.

Turkey season opens on April 21 this year. There is nothing quite like the early spring when small flowers and buds are sprouting, and the air is dark, damp and cool. And suddenly, you hear the ratchety sound of an old liimbhanger announcing to the world that he is awake and ready for love. The closest thing to it, might be the roar of a stag, the bugle of a big bull elk, or a wild wolf's howl. But those animals don;t live around here. The wild turkey is a denizen of the swamps and the deep forests at night where it goes to find a roost. During the day it can walk over 20 miles if necessary and will be found in open fields, along roadsides and woody paths. At night when he flies up, the big gobbler likes a big limbed swamp oak or maple, preferably hanging over water or over a deep piece of woods. When he comes flying down he heads where he needs to go. And prior to going he is emitting the powerhouse gobble that announces to the world, that he wants loving, that he is the boss and he is going to get it. Now that is spring.

Here in Ohio we are also blessed with fantastic steelhead spring fishing. It is on right now. Slip into the clear and fast running streams emanating from the green waters of Erie and there is a chance that in deep holes, gravel covered flats and small bends in the moving water, there will be a silver torpedo waiting for your egg pattern or nymph. Hook on. Hold on. Now that is spring. Don't bring me all that killdeer stuff.

Springtime in Ohio

My friend says that the new harbinger of spring in Northeast Ohio is the killdeer, not the robin. Not only is the robin passe', but it is increasingly apparent to birders that the robin is now spending most of its life here in Ohio and not migrating. The sound of the Killdeer, "killdeer, killdeer" is the new welcome sound of spring. I don't want to argue with knowledgeable scientists or even world class birders, such as Jim McCarty (see his Plain Dealer column every Thursday), Jeff Wert or Larry Roches from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, but the sound of killdeer, killdeer just does not have the mettle needed to oust the robin. Furthermore, the birds might be harbingers of spring, but they definitely don't have the spring feeling. It was 14 degrees, F. this AM for god's sake. Now, the real bird of spring is the Wild Turkey.

If you have heard the raucous throaty gobble of a dominant spring wild gobble, then you know what spring is. It is the deep, primitive sound of sex, domination, urgency and power. Now, that is spring. It is a primordial exercise in life itself.

Spring is just around the corner and so is turkey season.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

a few more pics of paris

as promised, here are some pics of paris. some more will be sprinkled in. jack

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Paris Blues

There is a formal way of interacting in Paris. You begin every conversation, entry into a store or cafe' with the requirement of formal friendliness. Bonjour madame. Bonjour monsiuer. If you enter and do not say these things, or bonjour, comment t'allez vous? Or some variation of the same, your interaction goes nowhere. It is a way of introducing yourself or your presence to someone.

In America, the formality seems pompous, extraneous, corny, or extinct. I miss this formal friendliness though. While in Paris, i never witnessed harsh words between shop owner, customer, restaurateur or customer or employee, or between people on the street. Only the bums around the palais d'royale metro shouted and yelled at each other while they sat on the grates streaming with warm air, sucking on cigarettes and admonishing each other. only there.

I was not back in America for one hour when i went to the counter of a seven eleven in the detroit airport and i said hello to the cashier. I asked her, "if i bought a coke, could i have a cup of ice to go with it?" She looked at me askance and asked if i wanted the USA TODAY in my hand. i said yes. "that is one dollar," she said. I gave her the dollar and then I asked her again if i could have a cup of ice if i bought a coke. She looked at me and did not answer. She pointed to a Diet Coke on the counter and asked me if I wanted that coke. I said no. She pointed to the cooler in the back and she said if you want a coke, they are back there. I said, " I am not asking you a trick question. Do you understand? If i buy a Coke, may I have a glass of ice? That is a yes or no question." She stared at me as if i had a third eye materializing from my forehead. I went back to the cooler and grabbed a Coca Cola. My thoughts were if she did not answer me or provide me with a glass of ice that I would pour the coke on her counter or throw it at her. I brought the coke to the counter, laid it down. She said that it would be $2.25. I paid her and she began walking away. I was just twisting the cap off. She strolled down to the far end of the bar, and yelled, "glass with ice!" She left it at the far counter, about 20 feet from me. i went down and picked it up.

My point is that in France, i did not know the language, did not understand the language, but in every transaction I had, there was a cordiallity, a friendliness that was exhibited in even the most trying conditions. I bought chestnuts from a girl in the freezing cold on the Champ D'Elysee who had her arm in a cast. she was serving chestnuts with one hand! She laughed as we stared at her cast. One hour back in America and i am treated like a impudent child. That is all I will say.