Skittle Weather

Staring at a blank piece of paper and waiting for words to magically assemble themselves never worked for me. I learned long ago that if I don’t know what to write, I just start writing. It doesn’t matter what I write. Putting pen to paper, typewriter to ribbon, or electrons to screen somehow starts my motor running. I might start typing about a quick brown fox and end up with a paragraph on mandolins. It always perplexed me to pass by a fellow writer, motionless, mouth agape, hands on a keyboard, wholly convinced that they were writing. No, they were not. Ah well! To each their “process.”

The late October weather in north-central Kentucky has turned seasonably warm. Fronts, however, are shuffling our way. Showers are in the forecast for the next few days, and the beginning of the week will bring our first proper overnight freezes, with temps in the 20s. Trick-or-treaters will be hiding their costumes under coats.

Since moving out of a traditional development several years ago, we don’t get any candy snafflers on Halloween. Here in the sticks at Squirrel Manor, the road is a little too narrow, too remote, and the homes too far apart to attract them. I’ve been a little nervous on past Halloweens that some brave rural kiddo would ring our doorbell, and I would be caught empty-handed, with no candy in the house. So, today, I picked up a supply of “fun size” Skittles just in case. If they last till Halloween, I’ll be surprised.

The birdbath is clean, and its built-in heater is ready for duty during the frigid nights ahead.

Thought In Memory Of Thomas Brown

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

Galileo Galilei

Netflix Documentaries

I’ve taken a long break from this personal blog. It is, after all, a pleasure and not a job. But I find myself meandering this way again.

Due to my wife’s Covid-induced isolation (thankfully, she’s doing well), I’ve been keeping busy with Netflix documentaries. Here are three that caught my attention.

The four-episode series “Encounters” (2023) explores accounts of UFO sightings. It examines more of who WE are rather than who THEY are. Thought-provoking and a little spooky, it raises the issue of society facing an inflection point about what’s happening in our skies and oceans.

Next was director Peter Jackson’s excellent “They Will Not Grow Old” (2018). It uses archival footage and eyewitness accounts to put you in the trenches of World War 1. The moment when Jackson transitions from the fast, jerky, black-and-white footage we’ve all seen before to the modernized, wide-screen version made me gasp.

Finally, there’s “Ordinary Men: The Forgotten Holocaust” (2023), based on the book by Christopher Browning. It examines the background and psyche of the members of the police squads who pulled the triggers day after day during the Nazi extermination of Jews and others. The story asserts that under certain circumstances, we can each become killers. Beautifully narrated by Scottish actor Brian Cox, recently of “Succession” and McDonald’s fame.

Thought in Memory Of Thomas Brown

All eternity is in the moment.

Mary Oliver

Art: “Clamdigger” 1935, by Edward Hopper

Fox Sparrow

Because they can be challenging to identify, birdwatchers may use the term LBB (Little Brown Bird) as a catch-all phrase when they cannot positively identify a particular bird species. However, even in the rain and fog, I was able to identify this LBB as a Fox Sparrow. Not rare, but not all that common, either. He’s a bit dirty from scratching in the mud for bugs and seeds.

The Fox Sparrow is a medium-sized bird with a plump body and a rounded head. Its wingspan can reach up to 11 inches, and its tail is relatively short. This LBB has a reddish-brown back, speckled with black and white, and a grayish-white breast with brown spots. Its beak is strong and pointed, perfect for digging in the ground for food. I watched as the Fox Sparrow hopped around in the muddy forest floor, occasionally pausing to tilt its head and listen for any potential prey. Despite its nondescript appearance, I found myself captivated by this little bird’s determined foraging. It was a reminder that even the smallest, most unassuming creatures can be fascinating in their own right.

Per the Cornell Lab: “Typically seen sending up a spray of leaf litter as they kick around in search of food, Fox Sparrows are dark, splotchy sparrows of dense thickets. Named for the rich red hues that many Fox Sparrows wear, this species is nevertheless one of our most variable birds, with four main groups that can range from foxy red to gray to dark brown. Since they breed primarily in remote areas, many people see them in winter when the birds move into backyard thickets.”

Thought in Memory Of Thomas Brown

To keep our hearts open is probably the most urgent responsibility you have as you get older.”

Leonard Cohen