December 27, 2014

Frogs croak today, down in my two ponds and along the Calhoun County wetlands. It is winterspring, the new fifth season of the Anthropocene, the epoch of extinction, yet life is stirring, and the hibernators awake, and snakes venture out and earthworms seek warmth on my concrete porch.

The goldfinches, turned olive green for the winter, perch on the birdfeeder like patrons at a bar. A mother screech owl and its baby have been hanging around my yard. The youngster fits in indentations on tree trunks, and if you have a feeling you’re being watched, you are. Your heart had better be strong, should you get too close to a screech owl and honk its horn. And overhead, the first trumpeter swans are arriving and in the landing path for Confluence Park.

I visited Farmer Orville and his wife Quilt Queen this afternoon. She placed four huge bins of cookies on the kitchen table in front of me, popped the lids, and said, “Eat. What you won’t eat, Orville will.” To be helpful, I downed four chocolate chip cookies and felt superior that I stopped at that.

I told them about seeing my physicist friend Evie yesterday, who spends her days measuring the radii of protons with help from a super collider. “It makes you think about what heaven is like,” Orville said. “You know, take all the Christians ever died; they’d all fit in a Florida of the Sky.” “With diamonds,” added the Beatles.

“You’ll know soon,” Quilt Queen said. There was a certain satisfaction in her tone, a kind of I-can’t-wait thrill, and she looked ceiling-ward.

I walked out into the cold rain and Reba the farm dog ran to me. We sat on a bench under the carport—I sat on the bench, Reba sat on me—and soon I smelled of wet dog and dog breath and dog tongue, and my pants were soaked. When I came home, Scout the cat climbed every square inch of me, inhaling deeply of the dog nectar on my body.

The elm tree out the window bled blue as pygmy and white-breasted nuthatches walked upside down along the branches and trunk. Robin-squeak filled the forest accompanied by redheaded woodpeckers drumming frenetically like a room of Swing-era Gene Krupas.

The sky was slate and fumous and thick, and it looked like a canvass drop cloth pillowing down over the earth. Somewhere above it, Orville had mused was Florida of Dead People, and all I could think of was fat people in Bermuda shorts and over-size white shirts.

And further out on the edge of the Big Bang, I imagined, God reconsidered the human experiment and pondered deflation, and our sun would go out and we would have eight-and-a-half minutes for a last round of selfies, and Evie could measure the radius of the last proton and Florida of earth would be the “sunshineless state,” and at least we wouldn’t be tortured by Floridians sending us weather reports.

This is cookie thinking of course, sugar high and sugar low.

Time for a long winter’s nap.




About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: eugenebaldwin.com. 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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