Within every house
While driving or walking through a neighborhood at night, have you ever stopped to think that behind every illuminated bedroom window, there is a person who is the central character of the story he or she is telling? That every single house contains a whole internal drama, built of common elements but really only known in its particularity to the inhabitants of those walls?
Probably, you have. But it’s really quite something to pass one house after another, one window after another, and feel the scale of this thing we’re living.
A constant stream of visitors
In the few weeks since I mentioned Merlin Bird ID, I’ve used it to identify all of the following in my yard: White-crowned Sparrow, California Towhee, Steller’s Jay, Black Phoebe, Yellow-rumped Warbler. Join me in using the app and you, too, can be a crazy person running for your phone every time you hear a new bird sound through an open window.
On a walk, I also encountered a black Muscovy duck mixed in among the usual mallards by the creek. I hadn’t seen one of those before. Have you? They’re pretty strange looking. (No offense, duck.)
Both sides of a ravine under a bridge at the end of my street were trashed. They had been so for weeks, and, as far as I could tell, I was the only one taking much notice of the situation.
On this day, I filled my whole first bag with various papers and plastics picked out of the brambles on a hillside at the ravine. I only had one more bag on me and, as the point was to get some actual walking (for exercise) done as well, I left the hillside half-done and proceeded out of my neighborhood.
Some time later, having filled my second bag twice and deposited it in a public can, I looped back toward the neighborhood. A woman walking in the opposite direction inquired about my trash-grabbing claw, then said she wanted to get one so that she could pick up on her walks too. “In fact,” she said, “I see that someone cleaned up one side of the bridge back there. Maybe I’ll do the other.”
And I said: “Hey, that was probably me, two hours ago! I just filled a whole bag over there this morning. You should get a grabber. It’s fun.”
Someone had noticed, and so quickly! I was encouraged. I walked back to the ravine the next morning and finished my hillside, filling another bag.
If I see, someday soon, that someone else has suddenly cleaned up the other side?
Well, then we’re really onto something.
Down to the essence of things
A reader who may or may not also be my mom introduced me to a YouTube channel called Green Renaissance that has some really wonderful little films about interesting characters with important wisdom and life experience to share. I’ve enjoyed every video I’ve seen so far. You can find the project’s website at https://www.greenrenaissance.co.za/.
Message in a bottle
I was pleased to hear from a longtime reader in South Africa this week. I’ve only ever made it as far as Los Angeles, and that was as a wee lad, so I’m glad that words are better travelers.
just looked up the muscovy duck.. oof!