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Spring, that is. She seduced us here in Central Ohio last week with her warming smile that lightened our hearts. Our memories of digging our cars and houses out from six foot drifts were forgotten as we all went for a walk in the park, where we saw ducks on their own dates nestled in secret love coves down on the Olentangy River. (I’m not making this up.)
The old ball and chain is back this week, Winter with her grey clouds and chilly soul. Winter brings us back inside to contemplate, write, and long for Spring to make a committment.
Dawn of the Snow
Where’s the Plow?
I Can’t Feel My Butt
One Loaf Left at the Foodmart
Drag Me Out of the Ditch
Flakes of Fury
Frontline on PBS recently ran the documentary Digital Nation. It’s a progress report of sorts about the effects on us as we live increasingly more of our lives online. There was a compelling account of South Korean Internet addicts, kids who game nonstop until all that’s left of them is a burned-out shell attached at the navel to the online world. The report noted these sad cases as casualties of the new online age.
Which got me to thinking. It feels like we’re drawing ever closer to living in the Metaverse Neal Stephenson envisioned in his seminal novel Snow Crash. That virtual world in the book is New York on meth: fast, bright, overwhelming, and undeniably urban.
And yet. We haven’t evolved the capacity to exist there. That’s what it feels like to me, some kind of evolutionary leap. For people who thrive in the city, that is. My first instinct is I’m not moving in until I know there will be someplace where I can hide from the rush.
I wonder if there will be places to get away in the ‘Verse. There’ll have to be, people being who they are. There will have to be sanctuaries. We model our world based on what we know, so I wonder whsat shape communities of the online world will take. Will there be a downtown? How about green spaces and parks? Will you be able to visit server farms out in the country? Will you fly your avatar back to your online suburban space?
My cat has ‘roid rage. As in steroids. No, he’s not injecting himself to prepare for Mr. Cat’s Pajamas Feline Bodybuilding Tourney ’10. (First Annual.) I am supplying them to him via a transdermal cream I have to rub into his tender little ear that he folds flat against his head, as if he knows what’s coming (i.e. chilly cream in a sensitive spot) and is battening down the hatches in defense. Hobbes the cat has allergies. To dust, mold, pollen, and Lord knows what else. He’s probably sensitive to electromagnetic radiation. All I know is the cat incessently scratches and grooms, until his skin is a mess of scabs, particularly around the head, neck, legs, back, and armpits, and he’s rubbed himself bald in places. Imagine hearing this at 2:30 AM every night: scritch-scritch-scritch, twitch, licklicklicklick. Pause. SCRITCH-SCRITCH-SCRITCHLICKLICKLICKLICK.
It’s times like this when I’m donning the latex glove (i.e. to avoid my own transdermal fix) to do the deed that I wonder how this cat would even survive in the country. Picture a tiger cat with thick glasses and an inhaler hanging from his neck shaking his paws at the mice: Hey! No fair! Stop running so fast!
I know a lady who lives in the country, north of Columbus around Sunbury. Her only pets that live indoors are her two beautiful horses who reside in their own stable/training track. Her cats are wild children. Am image that stays with me is watching my friend slamming the door of her rag-top Cadillac behind her, leaving both the roof and windows down. I watched several furry butts disappear into the car’s interior, and I wondered, How does she know they all get out when she drives away?
So maybe surburbanites like me fuss way more over pets, treating maladies and witnessing sometimes bizarre results, like I did the other day.
Hobbes had been back on the cream for about a week. I was sitting in the living room, when I watched Hobbes chase after his step-brother (different litter), little gray Calvin. Hobbes outweighs Calvin by a good 6 pounds. I heard a cry. Hobbes was biting Calvin on the neck so fiercely that Calvin was yelping his protest. Before I could get off the couch to break this up, Calvin kicked himself free and ran. Hobbes pursued. Calvin dashed over to the freestanding pantry and squeezed himself under it. Hobbes tried to squeeze his 15 pound body to go in after him.
So I yelled at Hobbes. It distracted him away from Calvin, who beat an exit while Hobbes wasn’t looking. But then Hobbes spotted Pookie. Now, Pookie is a 17 pound mass of muscle and fur. Hobbes charged right up to him. Hobbes’ tail was puffed, and the ridge of hair along his back was standing straight up. Poor Pookie turned his head and gave me such a plaintive look, as if to say, Help me! before retreating beside the recycling bin. Hobbes had actually backed Pookie into a corner.
I have to face it: my cat is performance-enhanced.
I’m often amazed what country life wanders into my slice of suburbia. Mind you, our subdivision was born ten years ago from the corn and soybean fields of the old farms where the owners had finally cashed out and moved on. Centex Homes came in to scrape the ground clean of farm detritus, together with all nutrient topsoil. Sod was applied to lots by vanload of efficient and diligent workers, and we were left with green, tree-free, yards.
By now I have either personally planted (or written checks that make me weak to Oakland Nursery) dozens of trees, bushes, flowers, and groundcover. It’s been trial and error. I had such hopes for the redbud I’d proudly planted; it would greet each spring with its delicate glory. I must have missed the part where I wasn’t supposed to locate it in the exposed northeast corner, subjecting it to a cold, cold demise, and no flowers to follow winter, only a doleful stump.
But bunnies nest in the mulch surrounding the stump. And the other plants are thriving, and tall, and now invite a surprising variety of critters to visit. I’ve seen robins and cardinals and finches, and even red-tailed hawks. The other day I hung a new feeder from my ash tree. It takes a minute for the rumor of free grub to broadcast on the bird wireless, but the word is out, and one of my first customers was a species I’d never seen in my yard before: the downy woodpecker.
Squirrels haven’t moved in to our enclave yet. However, I spotted my first one this past summer. He must have been a scout. I haven’t seen him since. I suppose the birds have a fighting chance at the feeder for at least a little while.