Monthly Archives: November 2021

Boar Hunting on the Brazos

That’s how I spent my afternoon.

Neal Stephenson’s new book, TERMINATION SHOCK, arrived today and we’re off to a flying start. Well, maybe not a completely successful flying start. In the first few pages, the private plane’s pilot, who also happens to be the Dutch queen, lands smack on the back of a herd of very large wild boars. This, as you would guess, proves to be a poor flight plan for both the boars and the Boer.

I now find myself looking over the shoulder of a Comanche Ahab on a vengeful prowl for Moby Pig in a drone-equipped pick-up. I’ve already learned what a “dually” is. I kinda want one.

Gimme another few pages and I may become your go-to for information you’ve been craving about the introduction and subsequent loss of control of European wild boars in Waco. Talk about your invasive species! If one must choose between pythons, Japanese beetles, kudzu, and Bradford pear trees…wouldja take wild boars? I’ll let ya know.

About the turn of the millennium, my delightfully bright friend Ave Lawyer mentioned how much she enjoyed a book she had recently read by a writer named Neal Stephenson; CRYPTONOMICON. I read it and was hooked. Ave moved on to twenty more authors as she inevitably does. I was happily stuck and for 20 years I have devoured each of Mr. Stephenson’s books ravenously, and basked in wonder and sometimes befuddlement.

Along the way I have learned so much…

  • I’ve learned techniques for permanently disabling underwater open sewer pipes in Boston Harbor.
  • The orbital dynamics of efficiently hooking up with a captured comet spun me for a loop, but I cheerfully went along for the ride.
  • I have followed the path of Schrodinger’s cat, and thus have a more nuanced understanding of why those witches of Salem may been scorched.
  • The history of cables and cabling I’ve mastered…just as the world goes wireless.
  • I have many interesting facts about coinage history, currency (current and crypto), and gold (Solomonic and Fort Knoxian). I know much about money…without having much.
  • I now know the practical intricacies of insect worship in India and fully understand why it has not caught on.
  • I now feel positively conversational with Norse deities in a way that Wagner never conceived.
  • The history of urban coffee vending is no longer mystery to me…and, I suppose, I now realize that it once was.
  • I have confirmed that Jack of “Jack and the Beanstalk” and Appalachian Jack Tale fame is someone I would be proud to be one day…and simultaneously, be afraid every day to stand too near.

Wow.

I’m sure I’m a better person for all this education.

Next page, please.

The Urge for Going

With apologies and thanks to Joni Mitchell and Michel LeGrand…

“I’d like to call back summertime and have her stay for just another month or so,

But she’s got the urge to going so I guess she’ll have to go…”  –Joni Mitchell.

I walked through our small back yard yesterday and I felt the urge for going. The day lilies are of course long gone. The knock-out roses are finally bowing to the inevitable. My playpen of cleome, bronze fennel, autumn sedum, shiso, and spiderwort has hunkered down, hoping to be overlooked by the random angry gods of Winter.

“…summertime was falling down and Winter was closing in

Now the warriors of Winter…they gave a cold triumphant shout,

And all that stays is dying and all that lives is getting out.” –Mitchell.

I’ve bitterly raked the leaves from the birches next door. I’ve chopped the spent estival splendors. I’ve shut down the pond’s fountain/birdbath. The bewildered frogs have retreated to the sleepy, frigid depths. The myriad tadpoles are struggling to fathom their first frost and consider the question of mortality for the first time. They’ve got the urge for going, but don’t where to go. I have no assurances to offer them: it’s my first winter with pollywogs myself.

The hummingbirds have fled like the fickle, mesmerizing, gypsy, bouncing dots that they are. They’ve got the urge for going and they’re gone.

The trumpet-vine hedge is embarrassed by its nakedness; bare vines overreaching the sky annexed to become a Casbah-like warren for tiny wintering birds. The arrogant trumpet has got the urge for going but has roots…and responsibilities. Where would those tiny birds find their hygge?

“When the sun turns traitor cold

And all trees are shivering in a naked row,

I get the urge for going, but I never seem to go.” – Mitchell.

Why? I suppose I could.

Michel LeGrand offers an answer;

“Beneath the deepest snows the secret of the rose

Is merely that it knows you must believe in Spring.

So in a world of snow, of things that come and go,

Where what you think you know you can’t be certain of,

You must believe in Spring…

And love.”

Last night, actually this morning, I awoke at 3:45. I crept out to the cold-compromised backyard, by the amphibian-befuddled pond. The sky was brilliant and clear. I shuffled back to bed and awakened Janie. She rolled out of bed and rolled into a blanket. We and our devoted star-gazing pup Chloe stood, huddled in the cold to see the lunar eclipse.

It was fine.

I suspect I will always have the urge to flee the dark and the cold, but I will never go.

I have a standing appointment with Spring…

…and love.