Tag Archives: ravens

De Senectute

My hands are worn and my vest is worn. I was able to buy a new vest yesterday, but I am not sure what to do with my hands and the body to which they are attached.

old hands

old hands

old vest

old vest

What started this line of thought: A few days ago my husband Tom read an article that noted that people 65 and older are “elderly.” As I am going to have my 65th birthday in a little over two months, I was not happy to hear it. “Older” I have been using for years. “Mature” I have used as a joke. “Old” I have recently accepted because to do otherwise would seem—to myself and to others—like I was avoiding reality, but “elderly”? I’m not going there. Then there were the articles in the New York Times: I read three of them about aging–one after the other. One article talked about retired people getting rid of possessions and traveling the world as carefree vagabonds. Another article talked about how the elderly (harrumph) can find pleasures in doing the small things in life like going to the public library. The final article talked about some Baby Boomers’ discomfort at finding themselves old.

Looking Backward: When I was a freshman in college, I translated Cicero’s De Senectute (On Old Age). I remember that I found the topic boring, that I wasn’t very good at the translating, and that I only got a C in the class. The good thing about this class for me was that it was Cicero and Catullus, and I loved Catullus.

I forget what Cicero had to say about old age, so I am not going to get any advice there, but I remember what Catullus had to say about love and I suspect that might help me as I look forward. As Catullus wrote to his beloved, I say to my husband: “Suns may set, and suns may rise again: but when our brief light has set, night is one long everlasting sleep.”*

ravens on the South Rim at sunset

ravens on the South Rim at sunset

Note: If you haven’t read Catullus, I recommend Catullus: The Complete Poetry translated by Frank O. Copley. Used copies seem to be available on the Internet from $.01 upward. A new copy sells online for $506.98. Somewhere in storage in Charlottesville, I have my own copy of Copley and perhaps, the notebook where I wrote my own translations.

* This excerpt from poem #5 is translated by A. S. Kline at http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/Catullus.htm#_Toc531846828

What I See Close to the Ground

adybug on purple hyacinth bean vine, Charlottesville

ladybug on purple hyacinth bean vine, Charlottesville

Myrtle Beach, SC #3

Myrtle Beach, SC #3

New Orleans

New Orleans

Mi Tierra, San Antonio

Mi Tierra, San Antonio

Saigon Bowl, Denver

Saigon Bowl, Denver

flax, Denver Botanic Gardens

flax, Denver Botanic Gardens

ice plant, Denver Botanic Gardens

ice plant, Denver Botanic Gardens

ravens on the South Rim

ravens on the South Rim

horned toad #2, North Rim

horned toad #2, North Rim

Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest

Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest

roses in the Kolob

roses in the Kolob

Wheeler Peak, Great Basin N.P.

Wheeler Peak, Great Basin N.P.

Lukens Lake, Yosemite

Lukens Lake, Yosemite

fritillary, Yosemite N.P.

fritillary, Yosemite N.P.

Sequoia feet

Sequoia feet

Coming soon: sentences and paragraphs.

Scat, Part 2: Bird Tails

It has been a challenge getting started writing my second scat post.  That isn’t because scat doesn’t/ hasn’t continued to happen—some fell on those I love and on myself and there’s the  the same old stuff of bad economy, mayhem with guns, and the environmental depredations we see wherever we travel.

No, I haven’t been able to write because today is so beautiful here at our campground at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona that I couldn’t pull myself away from the natural world and into the electronic device.  Here’s a photo of where I am sitting at 5:42 PM (Arizona time).

Quail Campground, Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Quail Campground, Dead Horse Ranch State Park

My chair is next to a cat claw acacia and faces several creosote bushes.  London Rocket (sisymbirum irio) swarms behind me.

London rocket

London rocket

Below me is a dry wash that is probably not as dry as it looks.

This afternoon a covey of Gambel’s quail marched around in and around the creosote. A spotted towhee hopped around from bush to  the ground and back up—so close that I am confident he (male plumage) is in fact who I think he is. A hummingbird zipped by and I think the tiny grays are flycatchers.  Others having been showing up including the ubiquitous ravens, doves of probably more than one kind, a hawk (that can’t identify), a cardinal, a great blue heron, and a black and white crowned sparrow who hopped around near me throughout the afternoon like he was daring me to figure out what variety he was among the dozens of sparrows in my bird book. No luck so far. Most exciting, but not verified as of yet, was a gila woodpecker in a cottonwood down in the wash.

I still want to tell you the second scat story, maybe tomorrow.

Observation: Maybe I can’t write about bad stuff—funny or real—in part because Tom and I had such good food at Juanita’s Taqueria here in Cottonwood and it sort of mellowed me out.

It’s Tomorrow: On February 18 Tom and I traveled to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. I would show you photos of this fabulous place, but I didn’t recharge my camera battery in a timely fashion. Anyhow, we pulled into the Upper Scorpion Campground and settled in for a snack of red grapes, water, and some other delicious tidbits I can’t recall.  The picnic table was next to a huge ponderosa pine.

ponderosas

ponderosas

As soon as we sat down, and especially after a red grape or two liberated themselves, two ravens (corvus corax) landed on the tree directly above where we sat.  Our campsite was situated within the 558,065 acres of the Gila Wilderness which, thanks in part to Aldo Leopold,  is the first designated wilderness in the world. So, maybe the ravens felt that Tom and I were elbowing in on their space.  They complained and complained and we did not move. Finally–from about fifteen feet above–one raven launched about a half  a cup of droppings onto Tom’s  blue plaid bermuda shorts. As we figured the ravens had planned it, we immediately jumped up, ran to the camper and tried to clean the gooey crap off the shorts.  When I turned back toward the picnic table, I saw one of the ravens sailing off with a red grape in his beak. 

Alternative Analysis: Tom and I think the ravens wanted the grapes, but we have also considered that avian bombardier might have merely been expressing his opinion about Tom’s overly bright, non-western attire.  You can Google images for “men’s blue plaid bermuda shorts ” and see for yourself.

two ravens

two ravens