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Ramble with Storm: Woodpecker, John Updike, soccer & toad

Mulling things on my morning ramble with Storm, the family’s mixed Lab.

A woodpecker hammered a wooden light pole at the ball field hard enough that I could hear it as we finished up the wild portion, the town pond section, of our morning ramble.

And I wondered what in the world woodpeckers can find in those old light poles. They have been there for years.

Or is it just like soccer balls with me. It’s been 30 years since I played competitive soccer. But if I pass one of the kids’ soccer balls, in the yard or in the house, I feel obligated to flick it in the air with my foot and juggle it a few times.

Just because I still can.

Maybe it is the same with woodpeckers and wood poles. Actually, there is probably some obscure larvae hatching out.

One of my dreams in life was to write a novel and have the male protagonist do a soccer version of the early basketball scene in Run, Rabbit, Run, John Updike’s 1960 candidate for the Great American Novel.

In the opening scene, Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom plays basketball with kids on the playground. It is a properly weird, almost uncomfortable, scene with a haunting sense of loss. The book is about a lot of loss, too; i would almost say also about sinfulness.

I digress.

A quiet calm morning, quite a change from the storms of last night, where we received about half an inch of rain and a cooling rush of wind with the gust front before the storms.

We were out early enough that only a few dozen mourning doves were around.

And as we rounded the far end of the ramble, the sun rose over the north old clay pit. I thought it was a nice scene.

Fall colors–brown fallen leaves, small yellow flowers I need to formally ID, red berries, red leaves of sumac–are settling in.

As I crossed the neckdown between the two pits, a green heron flew off. That close to it, I realized just how small they really are. I see green herons a few times a year at the town pond.

While I watched a father and son fishing on the north pit in a green johnboat, a big fish exploded between us. They saw it too, just out of their casting range.

A rabbit sprinted across the grass road on the south end of the south pit, close enough that the meathead chased it into the underbrush, instinctively or because he can.

On the old side rail, now a trail, above the south pit, something small scurried across the path and the meathead instinctively nipped at it, too. At first I assumed it was a vole or mouse, but no, it was a big fat toad.

It’s colors blended into the ground covering well enough that my photo was useless.

A few doves fluttered around the gravel lot near the grain elevator as we came back into town.

A gray squirrel, first of the morning, strolled the railroad ties along the sidewalk by the bur oaks a street over. Until the meathead felt the need to rush it up a telephone, from where it jumped into the bur oaks and rained acorns on the house roof.

At our neighbor’s, he rushed another gray squirrel, holding a green apple in its mouth, up the neighbor’s small oak. Two more squirrels crossed the street in front of our house.