Red Shouldered Hawk
Tuesday, April 16 2013
Ray came over with his puppy Jack today and eventually took him and the other dogs on a walk in the forest. (I was surprised the others went with him; they usually only will walk with Gretchen or me if either or both of us are around.) Meanwhile I took advantage of the cloudy spring day to take care of some outdoor business. I dug two wide, shallow pits in the main garden and dumped the contents of the two kitchen compost bins into them. They contained a mix of vegetable matter, cat litter, cat feces, and a small amount of scrap paper, all of it accumulated over the winter. (I'd cleaned out both bins in the autumn when I built the garlic patch.) Given Gretchen's recent interest in making juice with fresh oranges and grapefruits, a great deal of the compost consisted of semi-digested citrus rinds. These had actually broken down much more than I would have expected, but generally the compost wasn't anywhere near as broken down as it should have been. This was why I'd chosen to bury it instead of, say, spread it on the surface. It turns out that we generate more compost (the noun) than we can successfully compost (the verb), even using two drum composters. After awhile the compost gets too heavy to turn over in both bins, and I have to do something. So I bury the foul stuff in the garden, where the worms seem to make quick work of it. Speaking of worms, I've taken to spading the soil with a large garden fork instead of a spade; I don't like cutting worms in half, which is unavoidable when using a spade. Using a fork allows many more of them to survive tilling and other small earth-moving tasks.
Once I'd buried the compost, a good fraction of the garden was tilled, so I tilled the little that remained and then planted the whole thing by broadcasting various Brassica seeds (cabbage, two kinds of kale, broccoli, and bok choi). Though there will still be frosty nights, this won't harm Brassicas, and it's a lot easier to just plant it in the ground than to fuss around with cans in the window.
After Ray had come back and then left, I saw an unusual hawk perched in a White Ash tree on the other (east) side of the septic mound. It's rare to see any perched predatory birds other than Barred Owls and Red Tailed Hawks, and this clearly wasn't one of those. So I used the Olympus camera with the huge telephoto lens (given to me by Gretchen's father) to take some pictures, first through the dining room window, then from the south deck, and, then, because he'd yet to fly off, from the nearby woods. Ramona came to see what I was doing, and that was what finally scared him away.
Initially I thought it was Cooper's Hawk, which I do occasionally see flying through the woods, but when this guy took off, he looked more like Buteo. After looking at various hawk pictures in Google Images, I decided he must have been a Red Shouldered Hawk, which is Buteo of more heavily-forested environments. According to Wikipedia, agriculture has made Red Tailed Hawks more numerous than Red Shouldered Hawks, but reversion of farmland back to forest has helped Red Shouldered Hawks rebound somewhat.
A spitting rain eventually made the outdoors an unpleasant place to be. Meanwhile Gretchen had driven down to New York City to check out a yoga venue where she will be having one of the parties to release her new collection of poems entitled Kind. She also spent some time with our friend Sarah the Korean (who isn't Korean); Sarah recently had a cancer scare and will be undergoing chemotherapy soon, which is closer brush with mortality than one is normally equipped to handle in one's early 40s.
Meanwhile I was posting trollish things on the Huffingtonpost in response to news of earthquakes in various conservative parts of the globe (specifically Iran and Oklahoma). My posts expressed surprise that such places had approved gay marriage. This was, or course, a reference to the natural disasters routinely predicted by the likes of Pat Robertson as God's wrath for things he (Pat Robertson) personally dislikes. Sometimes when I get a good trollish idea, I ask a question about it on Yahoo Answers. So the question I posted there today was "Can earthquake maps be used to determine where gay marriage is being legalized?" That might sound silly to anyone with any understanding of how the world actually functions, but there are influential people in the world (such as Pat Robertson) who are essentially making the case that, on some level, yes, one can use objective measures of natural events to determine how God feels about the people living in the affected areas. Sure, what I was doing was trolling, but I think I was also making a valid point. Ignorant views about the world can only persist when people do not ask such questions and the extent to which you find the question silly is proportional to how valid you find Pat Robertson's prophesies (assuming no cognitive dissonance). So I was disappointed when several hours later I found that my question had been deleted. That's the problem with corporate-controlled message boards on the internet; as with mall food courts, speech in those places is not protected by the Bill of Rights. This is admittedly less of a problem with a rotting carcass like Yahoo; I'm far more concerned about the lack of free speech on Facebook, which is doing its best to become a replacement for the web itself.
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