Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Good Song: Wide Awake


Here's a good meditation for sojourners my age. Here at the crossroads of life, when most of ours is behind us, and what we have and what we owe comes into sharp focus.

It's hard to miss the Zen implications of the title and refrain. In addition to a gift for a koanic line, Julian Taylor – Canadian son of a Caribbean father and Mohawk mother – also wields a remarkably evocative voice that manages to embrace a multitude of genres and tones. In this case it bears a startling resemblance to Don Williams', blending perfectly with the gentle, introspective lyrics.

Anyway, give it a listen. See if it doesn't resonate with your path as well.

WIDE AWAKE
by Julian Taylor

It's a crazy world that we live in
The tide comes and goes so fast
Right now while I'm trying to be present
I'm still chasing shadows of my past

My father was born in the islands
My mom was born on the great turtle's back
They prayed for me when I'd go out in the evening
At least that's one of the rumours I'd hear

'Round Christmas time spent with my family
Over hot toddy sorrel and ginger beer
They did their best and they did it for freedom
They did everything they ever could for me

We went to church every single Sunday
We'd get dressed up and then go to granny's place
I'd run around that house with my cousins
We loved to race

There is an abundance of hope
That lies between the oceans of time
There's nothing singular about it
Yet it can be clearly defined
Yet it can be clearly defined

And I'm wide awake
I chalk it up to all of my mistakes
And all the heartache that I've had to face
And all the choices that I've had to make in my life

The greatest pictures are never taken
They're all stored in your memory
Me and my mom
We used to go to Good Bites and talk philosophy
We'd sit there just talking for hours

I once asked her why are good memories so heavy
She simply said
Aren't we lucky

And I'm wide awake
I chalk it up to all of my mistakes
And all the heartache that I've had to face
And all the choices that I had to make in my life

Lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah
Lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah
Lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah
Lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah-lah

Aren't we lucky
Aren't we lucky

There is an abundance of hope
That lies between the oceans of time
There's nothing singular about it
Yet it can be clearly defined
Yet it can be clearly defined

And I'm wide awake
I chalk it up to all of my mistakes
And all the choices that I've had to make
And all the heartache that I've had to face in this life

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

WW: Me on the radio



(Because I'm always on my own when I set up the radio on the road, I seldom have any photos of me operating it. This came to my attention when I realised that I have at least a dozen photos of my radio sitting on a bench or table in some remote place, with no human interest. So last time I was afield [this time in a pole-built woodshed with no walls] I tried for a usable selfie of us both.)

Appearing also on My Corner of the World.

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Local Boa Constrictor

So I'm breezing along a bike trail through rural country, feeling the exhilaration you get on a bike in Indian summer, when suddenly I find myself swerving hard to avoid a snake.

A large snake. Two feet plus, chocolate brown, mingled with the shadows.

Garter snakes routinely bask on that path, and what with the perfect climate and habitat, some grow quite large.

But not that large. Or that colour. And never in shade; Thamnophis is a sun-worshiper, intently keeping pace with her chosen beam as it crosses the pavement.

I hit the brakes and doubled back. And that's how I met my first wild rubber boa constrictor (Charina bottae).

Scion of an otherwise tropical family, the rubber boa lives farther from the Equator than any other. (As for the "rubber" bit, a glance at the photo here will cover that.) Thus Charina follows the pattern of North Coast reptiles: we have fewer species than other regions, but those exceptions are notably charismatic. A tradition this wayward constrictor further upholds by bearing its young live, like most other local reptiles, and then by being so uncommon, and so hyper-local, that though I grew up just 5 miles from that spot, I'd never encountered one before. The only specimen I'd ever seen, more than 40 years ago, was a captive juvenile taken in this self-same south-county microhabitat.

The heads of both were so small and sleek that telling one end from the other was initially difficult. This is part of an unorthodox defence strategy, as rubber boas hide their business end when frightened, and if the threat persists, lunge at the tormentor with their blunt head-like tail, to confuse it.

Those striking gold eyes, tiny for a boa, are the result not just of nocturnal habits but also the fact that rubber boas spend most of their lives – more than 50 years – beneath rotten logs and forest litter, where large corneas would be a medical liability.

But it's their disposition that's truly legendary. Charina is the Greek root of the English "charming", and likely the French câlin (cuddly, snuggly), both of which epitomise this disarmingly affable creature. When I knelt to pick it up – prudently, behind the jaws – he not only declined any attempt to bite, but even to escape. Instead he just rolled into a ball in the palm of my hand and buried his head beneath the coils.

The gentle shyness, along with the velvet softness of his liquid body, had me talking baby talk immediately.

"Funny snake," I chided, stroking his silky back. "You can't s'eep here; you'll get runned over."

As I struggled to bag a one-handed photo of his face, he eased into lazy loops and tentatively explored my gloved hand. I snapped away best I could (whatever advantages this newfangled phone photography offers, ergonomics ain't one), and shortly he relaxed, wrapping himself around my hand and wrist with real warmth.

Comparison to a long, linear cat would not be unwarranted.

I was sorely tempted to keep him, but didn't, of course. That their diet is made up almost entirely of new-born mice, and they won't even eat that half the year, was just another reason.

So I walked wistfully a ways into the trees and carefully deposited the sweet little guy on the forest floor. He edged away reluctantly, as if he'd've happily come along if asked.

How the pet industry missed this one is beyond me, but I'm glad these magical beings endure in my native forest.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

WW: Van Gogh's bedroom


(This is the bedroom in the cabin I posted about last Wednesday. It occupies the entire second storey, and is uncannily like stepping into a Van Gogh painting. The friends who built it say that was entirely unintentional.)

Appearing also on My Corner of the World.

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Status Report

Hell0 Darinzo
"The only things stopping me today are genetics, lack of will, income, brain chemistry, and external events."

Eddie Pepitone.

(Going out to all you PMA freaks out there.)


(Graphic courtesy of Nicholas Darinzo and Wikimedia Commons.)

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

WW: Remote radio shack

(Friends lent me this tiny cabin high on a forested ridge to use as a radio shack for two weeks. One of the nicest and most radio-friendly sites I've operated. And an excellent hermit hut.)

Appearing also on My Corner of the World.