March 12, 2015

It started last night: the spring peepers, at first a few groggy ones then some more, and now the woods surrounding me filled with syncopated song. The branch holes of the trees are throbbing with the altos of nesting mothers, and sex-minded male wrens are busting a gut and the redwing blackbirds along the bank of the river compete for the avian version of American Idol. It is glorious.

I visited Farmer Orville this afternoon. If Orville were a bird, he’d be a whooping crane. He was in the blackberry patch pruning branches, especially the higher ones. “Ain’t nobody gonna reach up there and pick them,” my friend said. I assured him I would; keep the high branches as an exclusive Genehouse premium. I saved the lives of some eight footers.

“Can you hear them?” Orville pointed at the dirt path between fields. “Asparagus babies cryin’ under the dirt clods. They’ll up in a week if the weather holds. You didn’t eat enough last year, Gene. You’ll have to pull your weight this spring.” It’s not polite to shout, but I inner screeched with joy: asparagus coming and then wild strawberries and then the lush, plump blackberries and then weeks of my favorite food in all the world—tomatoes.

I passed by a field pregnant with wild onions, the edges popping with clusters of butter yellow flowers. I saw the first butterfly, a black and orange checkerspot perched on a grass tuft and pumping its wings. The sky is filled with shape-shifting strings of Canada geese flying north, and American white pelicans form sky etchings that look like stone age paintings of bison and wild horses.

And the air is full of parachutes: tiny spiders on single web strings headed where fate dictates. One landed on my cheek and scaled my left eye and onto my head, and I was wrapped in silk strands and powdered with pollen.

If I meet a woman on the river path, I might just pump myself up like a wren and lure her and feed her wine and olive oil and crusty bread. I might come out of retirement and sing. “Spun and spinning round, her golden crown of hair falls down her, and her legs weave in a music of dream: she is a dancer.” A callow youth named Blue wrote that, with adjustable lyrics in case the girl was bow legged and brown-haired.

So: Screech, my dears. If you live a hundred and twenty years, you will only feel one hundred, twenty springs.

It is not nearly enough.

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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