Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010

Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010
Photo by R.E. Berg-Andersson

Saturday, November 9, 2013


There are times I feel like the character in "Bleak House" by Charles Dickens, who runs around the country agitating on behalf of starving children in Africa while her own children are neglected at home.

I have been doing a lot of writing lately in other blogs, on a variety of subjects, at the expense of this one, my own.

One blog is that of the Scherman Hoffman sanctuary of New Jersey Audubon. One is run by a couple of women for those 50 and older, WriteSideof50. And then there are my more political observations in the Morris Plains Patch.

I am glad to be doing so much writing, even tho' I am not paid for this effort. It is forcing me to use my skills as a reporter, writer and editor for a larger public than this humble blog has received. It is forcing me to use my brain in a creative way, even as I am busily trying to keep the house running, work eight hours for a job that does pay me and rake off this week's blanket of black locust pods.

Just a few of the seeds found raking. (photo by Margo D. Beller)
The last time I wrote here, I discussed how I wanted to punch in the nose the person who decided black locusts made good shade trees. Now, several weeks and many passes with the rake later, I want to kill that person.

For WriteSide, I made raking sound rather pastoral, a metaphor for the teamwork of a long and successful marriage. MH and I go out, get in each other's way, but somehow we wordlessly figure out what we have to do to get the pods and the many, many leaves that have fallen to the curb. We work together as a team. When done, we celebrate by going out to lunch and then collapsing at home, aching.

Well, besides raking, another thing we did together today was remove leaves from the gutters - rather, he went up the ladder to remove leaves, I stood at the bottom and held the ladder to keep it secure.

One year as we were doing this and I heard a yellow-bellied sapsucker, my sixth woodpecker of the day.

This year, a flock of 13 black vultures (and one turkey vulture) suddenly appeared over our house, circling for over five minutes.
Black vulture ( photo by R.E. Berg-Andersson)

I know better - vultures eat carrion, not live men pushing leaves out of gutters - but I involuntarily shuddered. MH and I are in our 50s and not getting any younger. We are closer to the end than the beginning. I didn't want him falling and hurting himself, or worse. There will come a time when this and many of the other chores we do will have to be done by others, for a fee.

I was very happy when he was back on terra firma.

I am also happy to be traveling for the next week away from the pods, acorns, leaves, bills, job and neighbors. I am hoping to come back relaxed and refreshed, at least for a couple of days. If we see some unusual birds, so much the better.

I promise to write about them here first.