Far too often forgotten, in the brouhahas arising when the weather forecasters haven’t got the forecast right, is just how often they do get it right–when they are in fact spot on. Today was a case in point. The CBC internet forecast called for a cloudy morning, with showers to start at around noon. Having a piece of writing to do that I didn’t feel could wait, I did that from about 9:00 to 11:30. Arriving at the Lac Leamy Beach parking lot to start my walk around at the lake at 11:57, I felt the first raindrops hitting me just as I got out of the car. With forecasts like this, one can actually plan one’s life somewhat intelligently.
When, as I sometimes do, I talk about some of the finer points of English grammar and usage with literary friends, I feel a bit like someone on the deck of the Titanic discussing what type of evening dress to wear for dinner.
While my mind is at its best early in the morning–creative, adventurous, and equally ready to work or play–the same is not true of my body. During the hours between 7 and 10 a.m., it is generally, if not frail, distinctly tentative, and not at all prepared for sudden shocks of any kind. I could no more listen to Wagner at 8 a.m., let alone to that alleged music known as rap, than I could drink a tumbler of Scotch or rye. Brahms and Mahler, at that hour, are borderline. Give me Mozart, Vivaldi, or if you must a bit of early Beethoven. Nothing more challenging than that.
I’m nothing if not versatile. I may be found in your kitchen, on the golf course, and even (if you are really lucky) on a bed where two lovers are embracing. Who or what am I?
Many of my old friends have been lamenting the recent decline of the English language in North America. I, too, lament that decline. But no one should be surprised at it. The past few decades have seen sharp declines in the quality of our collective political life, our educational system, our physical environment, our physical infrastructure, and our willingness and ability to care for one another. With the world all around us in a process of such severe decline that it doesn’t seem an exaggeration to use the term “negative evolution,” how could the language describing and representing that world do anything but decline as well?
Fewer apps. More naps.
A great week for birds! Walking around Lac Leamy yesterday afternoon, I saw a pair of Tufted Titmice, in practically the same area of the path and at just about the same time of year as I saw a clump of them last year. This bird is evidently so uncommon in Canada that Earl Godfrey didn’t even include a range map for it in his compendious Encyclopedia of Canadian Birds.
Today, something even more remarkable. As I walked briskly down Jacques-Cartier early in the morning, having chosen this time slot in an attempt to avoid the forecast rain, I saw a Pileated Woodpecker. This sight on a residential street is uncommon enough, though I did see Pileateds on three separate occasions on Jacques-Cartier the winter before last. But the bird was not just any Pileated, and its location was strange to the point of being bizarre.
For the most part, Pileated Woodpeckers are extremely shy, preferring heavily wooded areas offering lots of decayed or decaying trees they can peck into with their mighty bills. But this Pileated, almost certainly a young male given his red crest but relatively small size, had a cheerful, almost extroverted way about him. And he was making like a Flicker, first perching on a stump, then flying down to the wet ground in search of worms. It was the first time in a lifetime of bird-watching that I’d seen a Pileated on the ground, or anywhere close to it. His cheerful behaviour–I could almost have sworn he seemed glad to see me–reminded me of the Pileated in the “Woody Woodpecker” cartoons. Did those cartoonists know something about the species we everyday bird-watchers don’t?
All in all, it seemed a salutary reminder that not all birds of the same species look and act the same. Perhaps this was simply a “teenager” bored with the solitary life of the deep woods, and hungry for the bright lights and companionship of the big city?
With regard to music, I confess to being a complete peasant. I want to hear pretty tunes. . .sweet melodies. The modernists’ solipsistic atonal maunderings leave me completely cold. And I believe–with Toscanini–that it’s the conductor job to carry out the composer’s intentions and, to the extent possible, to play the music as it has been written, not as he or she wishes it had been written.
One of my most frequently-used, if not exactly favourite, words is “defective.” I wonder what this says about me? Does it say more about me or the world I for better or worse inhabit?
Shopping when one doesn’t need anything is akin to eating when one isn’t hungry.