I Know

April 1, 2015

On the Genehouse walk, I can’t get out the front door—the action is that good. Through the window I see a tiny Carolina wren on my porch, a guy with cool black streaks on the sides of his fingertip-size head, shredding my welcome mat to pieces, stuffing his beak with nesting material. Housefinches sound heavenly—until you hear a Carolina wren sing for his girlfriend. Wrens are the opera singers of the bird world.

On the walk, I meet a man and his dog, at the bottom of the wooded section of La Vista Park. The pup, four months old, is a Weimaraner, gray with turquoise-blue eyes, and she flops on her back and I scratch her belly. Her paws are enormous; she will be a giantess.

A shadow flies over us and the man says, “Holy crap.” A barred owl has landed in the tree branch over our heads, a black snake writhing in its beak. I know the snake’s name: Lunch. The pup barks and the owl takes flight. This is the same tree branch I wrote about last fall, when an owl attacked a squirrel and lofted up to that tree. I know that owl.

For the fourth time I walk through the exhibit of “The Artist of the Stone Gallery Across from the Island Below the White Birds.” I know: this is a private showing; this is for me. For you need “the eye”: how archaeologists refer to persons who possess sixth sight.

At Stroke Hill, Hummingbird Man, his blond ponytail almost down to his waist, rides a mountain bike. He could be a circus performer, all ropy muscle and balance. He pulls the bike onto the rear tire and does three 360 degree turns, lands, shifts his weight and rises on the front tire, does three 360 degree turns, lifts himself by the handlebars and rotates the bike under his torso three 360 degree turns, lands, stops, and says, “Hey, Gene.”

We talk hummingbirds—what else? Put up one feeder next week, we agree; there’s always on outlier birdkid with a duck’s ass haircut arriving early. We know.

I know spring has come. The wisteria has popped as have the weeping willows, and the mustard colors gleam in the sunlight. The dogwoods and magnolias and redbuds are sprouted and pushing. Every bush and thornplant and ivy and tuft of grass and Rose of Sharon and bloodroot and yellow trillium and snowdrop anemone have turned to green, all the leaves and strands coming to unfolding leaf.

When I arrive home, a container of my neighbor Irene’s zucchini spaghetti is on the front porch. I have eaten this delicacy before, and I know:

Mighty good eating.



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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