Curse Man

This is the day. The forest is olive hued, as soft wood trees push out the babies and there are fields of lush green grass reflected in the opalescent eyes of my chattering-at-birds cat. Three weeks ago I could see a quarter mile into the canopy of woods and now green fills in the spaces, like an oil painter’s brush strokes. Monet saw such a day and set up in the gardens and painted dazzling landscapes while The Band sang, “While I Paint My Masterpiece.”

Three of my trees have knot holes and mama birds jamming nest material into those holes. Sheila S. told me to put my dryer lint in the grass, the birds would use it, and Sheila S. was right. My yard contains dryer lint, strawberry tops, kale stems, apple cores and bread slices, all of which disappear overnight.

A mockingbird has arrived just in time to organize and terrorize all the other birds. Crow and his lady coo like doves. The goldfinches are fully colored, looking like mustard smears on branch ends. No-Tail the squirrel—he got his tail ripped off in the winter—has adjusted to life without back balance. He climbs a tree and sits up like a prairie dog and leans back into the trunk and gnaws on his snack.

The widower Bob’s place has four redbud trees, four dogwood trees, two magnolias, all bloomed, and the ground is peppered with daffodils and wild onions and his row of Osage iron trees are budded with pink tops and the oaks yawn and press the snooze alarm.

I saw Hummingbird Man and for some reason I asked his name and he told me and I will not tell you because Hummingbird Man is more colorful than ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_____________. We talked hummingbirds and dogs and sugar ratios and why Marley the dog is stupid.


At the crest of Stroke Hill, a forty-something woman I haven’t yet met comes out of her house and unloads groceries from her car. She sees me and smiles. “Hello, CurseMan.” Excuse me? “We see you walkin every day and my husband says you are putting a curse on us because God will see you and send more snow. Man, you are in good shape to climb Mount Butt Breaker like that.”

So Stroke Hill is Mount Butt Breaker. I haven’t had a stroke nor have I broken my butt. Give it time.

Only a saturnine person could ignore the seduction of a day like this, when the view from the summit of Mount Butt Breaker is drenched in white and pink and yellow, the burst dogwoods below me like bouquets at a wedding and the redbud trees attracting bees and dog-eye sulphur butterflies and purple hairstreaks and the magnolias are already dropping their bridesmaids’ finery to the green carpet.

Two springs ago I was walking in Chicago and came upon a homeless man on a sidewalk. As I neared, he backed into a fence and dropped his bundle of possessions. He shouted, “If you touch me, I am gonna put a curse upon this land!” And I know that Curse Man and Cursed Man are twins. And that happiness is short-lived and pain and suffering are long.

So I’ll not look to tomorrow. Today was sex and sensibility, all that bird love and snake love and squirrel love, all the earth smelling of fecundity and sex, all that lushness and color and perfume calling my pheromones out of retirement. At the window, to the sunset, and besotted by the music of wrens.

And then a perfect postscript. Farmer B. invites me for the first night sit of the season. I drive to his house and we and his wife sit out on the pergola and drink Stag Beer and eat sea salt and pepper peanuts and watch the stars pop out and we exclaim over Mars. And there are coyotes and great horned owls and barred owls proclaiming in the distant fields and woods. Mrs. Farmer B. gives me an Easter basket containing Little Debbie snack cakes, M&Ms, and bite-size candy bars. When I arrive back home, I stand in inky darkness and watch the sky and eat candy. And go to bed, Sudoku in hand, and fill in three squares when Somnus descends.

Good night.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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1 Response to Curse Man

  1. Em Miller says:

    Guess I’m going to have to pull the Kleenex box closer before opening each new entry. While I’m reading your words in MY world, the between-the-lines section of YOUR world is calling to me – “Come HOME! Come Home.. come hooome… .”
    – a distinct impossibility at the moment.
    It’s been years since I’ve walked those hills and watched the river road redbuds bloom. This old river rat misses home SO much – todays column was a 10-tissue reading!

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