Still Life

February 19, 2016

There was a thirty mile per hour west to east tailwind today, on my Genehouse walk. The River Road trail was a stream of dead oak leaves tilt-a-whirling  and rolling and pinwheeling down the path, the sound of the brittle leftovers like a thousand grasshopper wings whirring at the same time.

The river was choppy and gray-blue, and gulls struggled for balance in the sky. A lone bald eagle perched at the bay mouth of ScotchJimmyIsland, bent toward the river to catch a hapless windblown fish. Robins scurried along the bluff bottom and finches sang madly.

I met Hummingbird Man, Vance, as he worked on his car. Marley the rat dog jumped into my arms. Vance is a self-proclaimed river rat, but his soft spot is his way with hummers.

Just up the hill, crocuses poked out four inches from the black dirt and clusters of daffodils stretched green stalks and readied to bloom, and Osage iron trees leaned out over the road. A handful of peeps came from the marsh: pioneer spring peepers warming up for the mating dance.

There were empty Bud Lite and Coke cans and McDonald’s wrappers and chewing tobacco cans and cardboard boxes strewn along a one mile stretch of highway, and a hundred flying plastic shopping bags performed a perverted ballet in the air.

I met Farmer Orville on the last leg of the walk. He was looking forward to taking his wife Quilt Queen to an all you can eat fish fry at church tonight. She’s about to have a knee replacement surgery, and can barely navigate the kitchen.

“I took a outdoor piss this morning,” my friend said. “First one of the season.” Indeed, one of many reasons to own your own land: peeing freely, manfully, joyfully.

It reached seventy degrees today. I had opened the living room window nearest to the birdfeeder, and Scout the cat slept on the top of the couch, the breeze making her nose wiggle. She woke up when I came home and greeted me with a back flop and belly presentation.

If I ever meet a woman who does back flops and belly presentations, I will scratch her infinite itches with great pleasure.

In the meantime, spring flowers are better than comfort food; birdsong outdoes the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; blue sky is greater than the bluest eye, and I’ll take eagle wings over stealth bombers.

And long live fish fries.

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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