Tuesday, June 9, 2009

November 29, 2005

Being Amish

I am staring out the west office window trying to reinvent a title for this essay. I cannot remember the title I created when I awoke at 4:15. A crow flies off in the distance with a slow flap of wings. The dark crow outline is silhouetted against the light tan of the dry corn in the hillside field. Pecking at something furiously, a blue jay has food in its clutch. Another blue jay flies up in an adjacent tree. Sparrows are chasing each other. Food is scarce since we cut off their free food supply. On any morning when there is bacon fat in a cast iron fry pan, I mix in birdseed and distribute the cakes to the platform feeders. Until this morning, only the blue jays noticed the treat. The feeder platform on a pole next to my office is clean. I noticed an opossum feeding there last winter so I’m assuming another possum found the meal. I don’t think skunks can climb steel poles. I have no idea why robins have remained here. Most of the migrating birds left weeks ago and juncos are beginning to arrive on the early morning train.

One of the few things enjoyable about living in Arizona was the absence of daylight saving time. I assume that old people like me don’t like their time schedule messed with. Saturday night the official time switched back to Amish time. The time change affects me by getting lighter earlier in the morning and darker sooner in the evening. Last evening I took out the ash pan and dumped it on the tangle of tomato vines and debris next to the compost heap. Walking around and closing up buildings, it became too dark to work. I lit a fire in the wood furnace and went upstairs. The kitchen clock said it was 5 o’clock.

Thanks to REA, I might work in the garage by electric light, but Dawn and I carried my tomato table into the studio earlier that afternoon. I have nothing to tinker. She removed all the blue masking tape around the studio doors and swept out the Japanese Beetles and lazy bugs looking for a winter home. Before I closed the double thermo-pane doors, I sprayed the entire perimeter with Pest Tab. Noticing the bare 2X6 at the base of the doors, I decided it was time to finish the steps from the studio. Dawn is inside at the computer checking lottery numbers and surfing the iwon.com website. I open the door, poke my head inside and ask, “Do you want to be able to sit on a deck outside your studio?” The reply is affirmative. On our Lacrosse supply run, I will purchase green treated lumber to build a four foot by six-foot deck.

The previous evening we watched Peter Lorre play “the brilliant and inscrutable detective” Mr. Moto. George Sanders and his evil friend, Fabian the ventriloquist plot to sink the French fleet. My automatic movie critique mechanism works perfectly. I do not fall asleep. Last night Bela Lugosi played the “mild mannered Chinatown merchant” Mr. Wong. It’s strange to hear a Chinese man speak with an Austrian accent. Even stranger are men who look like Fred Mertz from I Love Lucy playing Chinese henchmen. Occasionally a real Chinese person is involved. The end of the movie shows the NRA blue eagle symbol in the credits. I imagine these real Chinese people were collected from desperate throngs of unemployed. They certainly looked beaten and whipped. The leftovers could be cast as desperate people for the Grapes of Wrath. The cop is Irish; the newspaper reporter is classified as a “newshound”. A better description would be mongrel, mangy or mutt.

By 8:00, I am ready for bed. My internal clock says 9:00. Lying in bed at 4:30 am, I am thinking about Amish Enis. He tells me at the Readstown farmer’s market that he gets up at four and goes to bed at eight. My thought is, “that is strange”. Then I realize the only thing missing from this picture of me is a beard and a team of horses. Each time I pass by my neighbor’s herd, they whinny at me and gather by the fence. I think about the team of horses I owned in the 70’s. Bill the Amish workhorse and his companion Dolly were not much of a team. They could pull a stone boat or my four-wheel drive truck out of the ditch. However, it was nice having them around and watching their horse behavior. Let me see. The image of Dawn wearing a green frock and tights? Oh my!

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