blog photo 201 heron & fishWHAT IT IS

It was a simple image on a calendar– the July photo of a heron eating a fish –that opened the flood gates of this alien mind to occupy territory having no boundaries, no solutions and no agreements. This pain in the abattoir, this torture in the lobster pot, the 303 almost to the heart, the harvester ripping up fertile soil that we pray, not religiously, will sustain the clan long enough until someone emerges whose self interest is diminished a thousand fold and is the possessor of that rare quality not yet revealed. Of course, they argue that possessor is all of us, that it lies dormant at the bottom of the heron’s pond awaiting its awakening. The infliction of pain is the cornerstone by which all things can be measured and no matter what lofty goals are rained down upon us, it is with great difficulty that we can escape this simple truth, although many are skilled in the avoidance.

Hobbson saw himself in the image. Was he fish or heron, or perhaps just flotsam drifting around the pond watching the drama unfold and keeping his head down? Much of Hobbson’s journey on this earth was a mistake, a series of events that unfolded with him occupying a space that vacillated between comedy and tragedy. Today he hoped to change all that and as Slim opened his office door to greet Hobbson, the Jesus drive that sat on the floor beside Hobbson, purred softly.


Sapphire’s mission was a serious one, but when she spotted a great blue heron fishing on the edge of a swamp, the cameras came out and she and Cricket began a covert-op toward the bird. There were plenty of birds around that day, especially chickadees who seemed intent on buzzing around the heads of the two photographers. Undeterred, the two got the photographs they came for, but the chickadee silence filled the air as Melena Schulz and her ragged sidekick, handguns drawn, walked out of the bush.

No words were spoken, exaggerated gestures instructed Sapphire and Cricket down a narrow path, through an open meadow and back to another path. They walked slowly in single file with Schulz at the end of the troupe in a constant hyper vigilant state, her eyes darting from side to side and head swaying forwards and back. They crossed by a white fountain; birds were drinking. Sapphire noticed a man, Drake Johnstone, crouched down beside a large rock. The parade kept moving.

Shots rang out from all directions. It looked like Schulz’s partner was hit in the shoulder, but Sapphire and Cricket were hustled out of harms way by Jessica Potts so quickly they couldn’t be sure of what really happened.




blog photo 200 drinking chickadeeWHAT IT IS

Drake Johnstone sat awkwardly on a sharp rock that became, over several decades, an integral part of an unrecognizable piece of farm equipment that remained behind when homesteaders scattered into the winds. His thoughts today were not of these souls, but instead of how a funky chickadee may have saved his life, although not through any heroic deed on his part.

Drake fed the birds in the small corner of his world, and a preponderance of the winged charges were chickadees. Over time he came to realize that individuals in the group not only had different personalities but upon close inspection each individual looked very different from one another. It followed from this, that Drake would assign names to the various birds; Freddie could be hand fed, as could Chauky, Buck and Tailfeather. Fanny would eat seeds from the hat on Drake’s head but disliked the feel of human flesh below her feet. Chester was the most gregarious of them all; hand feeding, hat feeding and even tapping on the kitchen window when the seed supply was getting low. He’d follow Drake to the water well and the woodshed for  no apparent reason…like a dog with wings.

Drake had been gone most of the day, doing some landscape sketches near Devil’s Mountain. Nearing the cabin, Drake spotted Chester in the fountain taking a drink and a few hundred feet beyond that two scruffy transgressors with ill intent written across their faces.



Morley suggested his guests enjoy the canoeing and fishing on the river and if trail exploring was more to their liking, the pine ridge nature trail would certainly please. They were encouraged to swim at the beautiful sand beach, play frisbee golf on a wonderfully manicured field or even bat around some baseballs on the lodge’s regulation diamond, but it was strongly suggested to stay away from an old barn up the road because strange occurrences were known to take place there.

Marie was on a solo trip, taking in everything Northern Ontario and getting as far away from the Arizona heat as possible. Choke cherries were on her mind, so early on a Sunday morning she left the lodge with a small bucket in her hand and started on her day’s adventure. She followed a stream, crossed over it on a fallen tree, walked up a steep hill then heard an odd thumping sound.

A knight repeatedly smashed the ground with his sword, sparks flew, and rocks exploded in all directions and water gushed from the ground. The knight moulded the rocks into a white fountain and ancient water bubbled up from the ground into it. The knight spoke in a language Marie didn’t understand but she thought it was a dedication of some kind. Insects by the thousands left the nearby barn and hovered over the fountain but it was a lone chickadee who was the first to drink.




He threw four pairs of socks in the suitcase, then another pair. Eight underwear, some jeans and shorts and enough t-shirts to outfit a small army. His vinyl garment bag contained two suites, four dress shirts and a sports jacket and was ready hanging on a hook on the back of the door. Before closing his suitcase, he read the obituary one more time and placed it on top of his clothes.

The path CO Micheals’ college buddy took was much different than his own. After graduating together, Seth grew disinterested in his chosen field and immersed himself in vegetarianism, veganism and finally freeganism. Through occasional correspondence, Micheals saw in Seth a man driven by guilt, motivated by hope and emboldened to act on moral principles of animal rights, human rights and the protection of all things needing refuge. In his private thoughts, Micheals would flirt uneasily with the words ‘spiral down’ to describe Seth’s life, but Micheals was indeed arrested by Seth’s lonely journey to the outer edges of conventional society. Micheals struggled to reconcile Seth’s personal righteousness and what it meant in the larger context. Was he the pioneering trailblazer, showing an old generation where the exits were located, while laying foundation upon which others would follow?

Seth died in the Mark Twain National Forest. He lived alone in a school bus at the edge of the forest and foraged daily for fronds, nuts and mushrooms. It was a hard life when it ended.


Tiny ditched the van, ran a quarter mile into Cormier’s swamp and buried himself with cypress branches and cattails. He slowed his heart as the cool muddy water soaked into his clothes and he could feel himself sinking into the bayou. He did not panic, there would be plenty of time for that if Mauls found him.

Tiny dropped off the pails of insecticide at the airport and headed back to New Orleans. His drive back was interrupted by a maniacal Mauls driving his Harley and pointing at Tiny to pull over. Nothing good would come of this, Tiny thought, so he ran Mauls off the road into the ditch. Tiny thought this would solve his problem but looking at his side mirror he could see a pissed off Mauls getting back on his bike, and the chase was now on for real.

As he laid stone still, Tiny stared at the reddish mushroom, his Hiroshima if the look on Maul’s face was any indication. The swamp was silent, only a lone goldfinch’s song penetrated the air, the sweet song swirling among the tree branches before drifting into the distance. The silence was broken. Tiny recognized the unusual sound of Maul’s hurting weapon, an enormous pipe wrench that swung like a pendulum, striking and scratching the surface of the ground as he came closer to where Tiny lay.

This time Tiny did panic: he scrambled from his shallow grave but before he could achieve any traction Mauls was all over him. With the notorious wrench high above Tiny’s head, Mauls was struck from behind by Leo Barnard’s white cane and Cathy Jennings’s well chosen rock.




blog photo 198 fall colorsWHAT IT IS

Whenever Slim drove the I 76 in Pennsylvania during the fall of the year he was reminded of a chance encounter that started him on his road to philanthropy. A first year University student in the early seventies, Slim found himself on the way to Ellwood City to attend a Young Entrepreneurs of America conference when he got lost on a Lawrence County back road. As he studied his road map to get back on to the interstate, Slim heard a most pleasant sound coming from an old Ford van parked in a field just off the road. A guitar player, a banjo player and a wizard on the upright bass were called Coyote Apples, and their sweet bluegrass harmonies drifted into Slim’s soul as he walked toward the trio to hear more.

The band’s story was a familiar one: van broken down, low on cash and gigs hard to come by. Slim fronted them two hundred dollars, gave the band his mailing address and told them to pay him back if they ever got big. They never got big. The guitarist had a mental breakdown and became a sickly, delusional man who wandered the state aimlessly. The banjo player became a veterinarian and settled in New Orleans and the upright bass player joined the army and was sent to Vietnam.


For the past month Davey Doucet rolled down the Travis road in Lawrence County to check on his uncle Ned Doucet after his tussle with the water pistol wielding man at a pet store. He looked forward to the quiet drive that took him close to farmers’ fields and he enjoyed watching the families take part in the October harvest. He especially enjoyed one entrepreneurial farmer, or more accurately, liked his sign at the entrance to his farm: For Sale – Eating Apples – Baking Apples – Deer Apples – Coyote Apples. He had a good idea what the first three offerings meant, but was unsure of the last one. His intention to drive up to the farmhouse to satisfy his curiosity never happened, and he decided instead that the farmer had an affinity for the canines.

As for Ned, he was coming along nicely. Davey was a frequent visitor, his doctor looked in on him regularly and the women from St. Paul’s parish often brought in hot meals and pleasant conversations to pass away the hours. So, it was with great shock and surprise when Davey walked through an open door at Ned’s house to find his uncle gone and a scribbled  note on the kitchen table. A Justine Flagstaff had called and wanted to meet Ned in Missouri!




blog photo 197 waxwingWHAT IT IS

Mark Malloch sat on a wooden bench outside the courthouse admiring the intricate carvings covering most of the seat and back. M.J. apparently loved C.K. a great deal as it was displayed in four different locations and B.B. loved no one in particular but had visited the bench on at least three occasions. Being a star witness in the trial of Dizzy and Bella, Malloch wondered if these two misfits might have enjoyed simpler times where they too may have carved their initials in a tree or perhaps even a bench.

The waxwing Malloch had been watching sat eye level in a white spruce and swayed with the branches that constantly moved in the mid morning sea breeze. It induced Malloch into a daydream where the conflicts of his work and the realities of the world broke out of their carefully constructed boxes and drifted without constraint. His ambitious visions would rightfully trump the ever increasing voices petrified by an uncertain climate, saddened by grinding poverty and bewildered by a strata of privileged individuals whose grasp of the world and consequences of their actions would fit into a thimble. Malloch was an educated man whose duty far outweighed the musings and opinions of simpler minds and if changes were to come to this world they would have to be incubated and instigated by others. Malloch ran with a crowd of pseudo-captains whose air of superiority dominated a room, twisted the discussion and predicted outcomes of fantasy and delusion. As he drifted out of his daydream, he acknowledged there would be no epiphany today, as they are released only on the young and naïve.


Mrs. B spent two days driving around the backroads in her neighbour’s 1979 Chevy pick-up looking for Jackson who had been spooked while the two were on a walk to Sullivan’s pond. Exhausted, Mrs. B dropped the truck off and went straight to bed.

A restless sleep was loudly interrupted by a commotion in the front yard. Staring out the front door, Mrs. B watched as a duck and a rooster squared off in what looked like a prize fight. The rooster circled around the duck, kicking up dust as his tiny head bobbed and weaved back and forth. For his part, the duck stood his ground following the rooster’s every move, sticking out his barrel chest in an effort to intimidate. The two combatants even had a fan in the nose-bleed section, a lone waxwing seemed ready to watch round one.

Before the donnybrook began, Mrs. B recognized the duck as belonging to the translucent man and decided she better intervene. Opening the front door, she heard a man call out “Little Mr. Deakins” and soon she could see him walking down the road toward her house.

Jared sat on the front porch steps sipping the tea Mrs. B brought him while she read the note that had been attached to the duck’s right leg. The translucent man found Jackson and he was safe and sound, staying with him as he journeyed toward Plot 82. With Jared headed in the same direction, he offered to pick up the dog and return him to Mrs. B. within a few weeks.



blog photo 196 yellow leafWHAT IT IS

A sleep-deprived Jared Deakins sat on a red oak log the size of a county road culvert.  Its  bark was getting soft from years of inclement weather and now bright green moss covered much of it. He had spent the night on St. Peter’s trail, looking for escaped teenagers, but saw not a one and now that daylight was overtaking the eastern sky his plan was to return to his cabin and book some serious sack time.

The translucent man had already passed Jared, the duck and horse that followed walked side by side in what could only be described as a waltz pattern. Synchronized strides to the left side of the road, then more strides to the right side of the road, culminating in the duck performing a feet and feather type of pirouette and then it all starting over again. Amused, Jared thought the critters were bored and didn’t pay them much mind until the translucent man abruptly stopped and walked back to where Jared was sitting. He stopped about ten feet from Jared, at the end of the log. Kneeling down he reached into the rotting butt of the tree and pulled out a small yellow leafed plant and placed it on the log before walking away.

Jared opened the door to his cabin, the little bastards had ransacked the place, stole his beer and threw what little food he had in the fridge against the walls. He looked at the small plant in its planter and read the child-like printing on it: From Plot 82. Jared quit work that day, he knew it was coming, he just needed a little push. He stuffed his few worldly possessions in a knapsack, carefully put the plant in a box and went looking for Plot 82.


Leo Barnard’s sight came and went for no apparent reason and today it was leaving like a Tokyo bullet train, but his innate ability to accurately weigh just about anything was still intact and that was what Cathy Jennings needed him for.

While breaking into Tiny’s van, Jennings saw Leo carrying a small yellow leafed plant while aimlessly wandering the roadside ditches looking for abandoned money, abandoned food to eat or any manner of bric-a-brac that could be sold. With Jennings offering up the princely sum of one hundred dollars for Leo’s help, the two quickly devised a plan to remove the four pales of 1,4 Dichloropropene insecticide and replaced it with a less disastrous substance.

Four gallons of thick, fowl smelling bayou water, two handfuls of needles from a bald cypress tree and a spadeful of fine swamp mud were mixed together and substituted for the insecticide. When Tiny returned with Sebastian from the garage he checked his cargo while the mechanic repaired his tire and soon Tiny was airport bound.


blog photo 195 turtleWHAT IT IS

The weather can be quite comfortable in late May and early June around Mount Pulaski and with the tourist season starting to ramp up, the two person police department is determined to see that all folks, residents and tourist alike,  experience a peaceful, law abiding city  to enjoy.

Crime in Mount Pulaski is minuscule, a fact that chief Bob Shickle and officer Jill Deakins are proud to point out. But, they do have a concern, an increase in motor vehicle crashes on the roadways leading into town. This spike in accidents occurs during the spring months and this year Jill has been told by the chief to get to the bottom of, and to solve whatever is causing the increase. Jill spent the last two weeks in May pulling extra duty patrolling Hwy. 55 and County Rd. 700, paying particular attention to early morning travelers who seemed to be involved in many of these occurrences.

One of the witnesses said it was a monstrous turtle crossing the road, so he hit the brakes hard to avoid hitting the beast. Two other witnesses on a motorcycle saw the turtle and a sickly, pale man crossing the road; she put the bike into a skid. Jill took their statements, then headed into the cornfields adjacent to the road to look for the diapsid.


Davey Doucet’s metaphoric ship began to right itself after a three week stay in the Boca Ratan Regional Hospital. Another three weeks of convalescence at Slim’s Cape Cod chalet and Doucet was up and about on his own on most days. Long walks along the beach, the smell and sound of the surf and the huge seaside bonfires at dusk all served to mold Doucet back into some form of reality similar to his reality pre-Nevis.

Despite his progress, Doucet felt stuck in a quagmire of conflicting identities. Aquena’s revelations were from an inventive mind, steeped in sorcery and burdened with a strange populist objective that both mystified and traumatized those seeking her counsel. Her collage of manifestoes, theatrics and legends could have been meant to confuse or, to enlighten and elevate the subscriber to a plane from which to observe and lay testament. This plane of existence escaped Doucet for the most part, partly due to his specific upbringing, but more to do with his inability or unwillingness to embrace concepts and characteristics that would turn his world from its solid ground and granite foundation to a mushy existence of fluffy clouds with convenient deeds and unexplained truths.

Doucet was a turtle! Slow and cautious in the face of a world that was not really changing, but merely shifting its priorities, applying makeup to cover the blemishes and convincing anyone who would listen that truth and trust, though good and noble, would not be the currency of the future, that currency had already been spent and now habitually under supplied.