Friday, February 20, 2009

Rockin' Robins

A rack of robins perched in the neighbor's yard this morning. Maybe a dozen of them in the woody branches of the crape myrtle at the end of the street.

These robins were coming home fluffy and strong from their winter in Texas or Florida. I guess they don't follow the Monarchs to Mexico any more.

You could tell the robins from Texas. They were wearing little red cowboy boots and lassoing the starlings and tieing them to the fenceposts.

Well, from my rearview mirror as I backed up, those Texas robins acted like they owned the place. The Florida robins were pretending to be asleep.

I don't drive backwards on purpose, you know, I live in a cul-de-sac -- the French term for "bottom of the bag." Sometimes it feels like that around here, like we're at land's end -- no not in Cabo Land's End, in an industrial parking lot.

The PODS are here.

You know what PODS are -- white metal "rooms" half in the road, half in the sidewalk -- places where my neighbors store all the stuff that's supposed to be in their house. Yes, it's temporary --maybe a month or 6 months or a year.

The plan is each house is getting some work done -- painting or cleaning or revarnishing the floors. And the best way to do that work is have all the stuff out in a POD, leaving the actual house empty.

There is a thin promise that the POD stuff will get carried back in, and the POD returned to PODville.

Problem is the street is now a village of PODS. All but two families have one. They're the width of a car parking spot on one side; on the other side, they block everything else.

In the 1930s nobody had a POD. Everybody had sheds, and when things got bad they moved into the shed and their rich aunt moved into the main house and made them cinnamon toast on Sundays. Isn't that how it was?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Midwinter Night's Wind

In the middle of the night the wind came up and whistled through the spaces between the window and the wall next to my bed.

You've heard this sound before. A storybook banshee racing down from the tower of a dark castle towards your breezeway. She's wailing at the back door, knocking over your trash can with a force that wakes you with a start.

The clock says 4:15 am. Walt the cat stays close.

The icy keening continues as you search for your fuzzy pink robe and make your way to the window. Walt is looking too.

Nothing is there.

I switch on the lights to break the spell, but the glare is blinding. I light a candle instead. The flame shudders left and right, then disappears in waxy smoke until I light it again in a sheltered corner of the kitchen near a small window that gives me full view of the backyard as the wind jostles the floodlight near the shed.

Again, nothing but branches strewn across the frozen ground.

I'm going back to bed. Pulling the covers up, I make room for the cat and smooth the top of the blankets.

The best thing you can do is try to sleep. With my head covered in blankets, the wailing finally stops.

In the morning, the weatherman talks about the rising West Wind and the need to tie everything down that could possibly blow away in the 50-mile-per-hour gusts predicted for that afternoon.

Keats wrote "Ode to the West Wind" in the daytime, I think, but not an afternoon like this one I'm standing in, holding my hat, zipping closed my windbreaker, and refusing to raise my eyes as I walk along watching my steps one after another on the pavement.