the birds i can’t see but the songs i can hear
on sunday, the cloud-filled, late afternoon sky prompted me to gather maxx into the car and head out to my refuge, my national park.
it was unseasonably cool. i put on a warm hoody and an army cap.
i put my frankenstein laptop, dog biscuits, camera and a bottle of water into my shoulder bag.
getting into the car, i said out loud, to no one in particular, “feels like the first day of autumn,” and off we went.
i felt a little….off balance.
sometimes, i’m saddened by cool, rainy days.
sometimes i’m energized by the same.
i have my reasons.
we all do,…sometimes.
my last number of visits to gateway national park and recreation area landed me at floyd bennett field, but this day i would cross the bridge to fort tilden and the beach, the paths and eventually that lizard guy who sounds like eduardo ciannelli and looks like omar sharif (but later about him and that).
i hadn’t been there in well over a month.
driving out, using the phone that i loathe, i began a conversation with my friend – the one who furnished me with the vacation to the australian continent a while back.
i have a bluetooth earpiece, so i can hate my verizon phone from a distance and not suffer the possibility of getting a ticket.
part of our conversation was about the notion of going back to australia and opening a venue.
another part was dealing with the silence i live under regarding my missing friend.
i was ok living under the impression that she may have escaped to “the eighth-electro-plasma-ocean of the ninth dimension,” but have been a little brainfucked since hearing that she’s still where phones ring and mail is delivered.
sometimes i need to speak about things “out loud” and this was the day for it and with one of my oldest friends, it helps.
when vocalizing my issues, i can hear how whiny i can be.
by the time i was in the parking lot, a sense of clarity made its way to my inner focus.
maybe it was acceptance of the moment or the joy in the wind or the special glint of “crazy” that was in maxx’s eyes.
parking the car, i inventoried six or seven cars in the lot.
in the far corner was a dark-gray late-model honda odyssey.
i made a special note of its being there because after years of living with the grifting lizards from mars, i believe our radar is linked.
i thought to myself, “i know you’re here.”
then i thought to myself, “shit, now i’m thinking you’re thinking ‘i knew you were thinking that,’ and you’re probably right.”
exiting my car, i turned away from the honda, walking toward the beach with maxx who couldn’t get there fast enough.
this is because he’s either terrified of the lizard people (which he is) or he’s excited about the beach (which he is, too).
six of one,…….
reaching the shore, i saw what looked like a beach of hay that was left by the last high tide…..
we headed east, as we always do. i kept maxx on the leash aware of the possibility of people and their dogs because of the many cars in the lot. i don’t recall seeing so much in the way of beached reeds in a long time. it no doubt had to do with all the rain and storms up and down the coast. i searched the detritus as we walked and when i saw the whiffle ball, i thought of something spiritual. i don’t even know what it was, but the glow from the whiteness of it was…arresting.
i photographed it again and again.
each time i did, the white became brighter and brighter, but that may have been in my head.
with my camera, i looked for intricacies and details. i don’t know why.
the photo below is the top of a wood piling.
the photo above is a still-life i never get tired of.
it’s been buried for much of the past eight months and for a second i thought it might be a sign that further along this beach, the big tire might be visible, but the height of the sand at the weather-worn pilings hinted to the contrary.
we walked on and i looked at the space where the tire should have been, then i looked out at the waves as they lapped onto the shore and called my friend’s name and started a monologue with the great open space before me.
maxx walked closely and slowly as if he knew i might be doing something that mattered and he was putting his best….paw forward.
i said hello to the terns. they looked young and little.
i conversationally asked my friend if cancer had finally said “uncle,” or retreated, due to lack of interest.
i asked her if i would ever hear from her again.
i got no answer.
i asked her if it was something i said.
i laughed when i asked the last question; a loud, happy laugh, bordering on tears.
i told her that i remembered my promise and turned from the shore and headed toward the dunes and beyond.
i didn’t think the great blue heron would be waiting for us at the marsh, but it didn’t matter to me.
i thanked maxx for his patience and he rewarded me by grabbing my wrist and gnawing on it fiercely.
it’s his way of registering joy.
we walked the path to the marsh and beyond. i decided to not walk with maxx, rather, i would follow him.
because of this, the photos from here on are attributed to him.
before moving forward, i want to revisit one of my favorite action photos of my kid on the same path two years ago in the autumn;
i was laid-out flat on the ground a second later.
but i digress…..
i began this note in autumnal air and lush, spring foliage.
this morning’s forecast temperature said “eighty” and tomorrow (friday), “eighty-eight.”
there was a time when i welcomed the sun and heat.
it wasn’t so long ago.
i remember cycling to the world trade center, three or four days a week and laying in the grass in the waterfront park, basking in the afternoon-glow for about two hours before getting onto the hoboken ferry, landing in jersey and riding to the end of that little town.
that was when i had a warehouse space and ebay was friendly and oh, there was a world trade center.
that time has passed but i haven’t.
fortunately, these temperatures haven’t taken hold yet. my terrified irishness makes me wallow in future dread.
dread – you have to shake it off like stubborn houseflies who insist they belong on you.
maxx and i wandered.
i took photos of little things.
at first glance, i thought the fuzzy things above me were caterpillars;
i was wrong.
i’m wrong about loads of things regarding nature.
i’m wrong about loads of things, period.
here’s something i might be wrong about;
i believe animals are smarter than we can ever imagine.
there were a couple of PBS specials over the years that hinted to the brilliance of nature and everything around us, but once i heard what i call “human, presumptive opinion,” based on “research,” i would get the willies.
i know this;
when i was a schoolkid, some teacher, somewhere mentioned why some companies who used animals for testing and research preferred beagles because they trusted humans the most.
i also recall being told that dogs do not feel pain.
that was another reason we could use them for medical experiments.
now granted, this was a long time ago, but even then i wondered how anyone could make such a statement unless it was to forward a certain agenda, e.g. – human supremacy.
the point….i’m getting there…is that even with our new knowledge and further research, we make new assumptions from our ivory tower, from our intellectual human bulliness.
(we are bullies and it will be our comeuppance.)
so now PBS specials talk about how animals are much smarter than originally thought and we learn that they have what might be interpreted as having feelings.
did you ever hear something so stupid in your life?
anyone who ever had a pet knows this.
my dog is an eternal two-year-old.
do two-year-olds have feelings?
my cat buddy is a street cat with a BB in his hip.
he knows his name when i call him and communicates with me as well as anyone.
when i was dancing with cancer and going to the radiation hootenany with forays onto the chemo dancefloor, i would, at times, become sick and weak enough to warrant prolonged naps. they were there for me.
i nap every day. twenty minutes or so.
maxx and buddy don’t join me to make sure i’m ok, but they were there every cancer-day because it was different.
they know different. they sense things we WISH we could.
at the end of a previous post, i talk about buddy, asleep on top of my mac tower and how at times he holds me in one way or other. i learned that in some circles, it’s a primal behavior meaning “to own,” which makes sense.
when my niece was a tiny newborn, sometimes she’d grip my pinky finger blindly and hold it with all her might.
what’s the difference between owning and loving?
of course there’s a difference and it’s about choice, and “experts and researchers” believe that’s where humanity and the animal kingdom, buddy, maxx and me part.
that’s where i look at humanity and say “wrong.”
just like knowing the difference loving and owning (something humanity and its players have big issues about – see; love, possession, greed; cross-reference; money, people, possessions; go to – “you can’t take it with you“…..whew, but i CAN go on, but won’t), i know when maxx is letting me know when he wants, needs and loves.
ditto my good buddy, buddy……and i don’t feel it’s very important that somewhere up the informational road, i’ll get a shred of “expert” acknowledgment that might attest to what me and millions of other friends of animals already know.
maybe that’s what it takes for something to be “true” in another part of this world.
my friend….my sweet friend…..has looked here, right here, three days ago to check up on me, maxx and buddy – that’s why i still use this as a platform to wave and say hello.
i believe she continues to teach me things, even in her silence.
it has more to do with humility than i’m willing to learn.
that’s my failing, but it’s not the point.
my point is the difference between us and our animal friends.
last year, because of carelessness, my good buddy, buddy made his way out onto the building ledges and disappeared for almost a day. i wrote her of this distress and she poured out love and concern not only for a lost cat she knew of only from me, but for my anxiety about him. this, in turn made me understand that all of these feelings were the same. love is love. period.
the headiness of my concern doesn’t exist in measured doses according to the food chain.
you cannot qualify or quantify this stuff.
after passing the marsh of the blue heron, we proceeded to battery harris east, where the stairway climbs to a platform that overlooks the area, but maxx chose to hook-around on the left and follow a path that ran behind and east of the hill to another path that leads to an area filled with assorted pines.
we hiked to a place where a dump area had been.
it was now cleared with a sea of green.
for all i knew the beautiful green was radioactive but i didn’t care.
maybe green is the color of hope.
i looked at the cellphone that i hate and saw that it was nearing 7pm in the evening. the georgetown hoody was barely keeping me warm.
maxx was thirsty, so was i.
it was time to head back to the car.
i loved this day.
heading to the parking lot, i knew he was waiting for me but i’ll save that for later, otherwise this’ll never get published.