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THE FARTHERMOST VIEW

Selected Podpieces

MARCH COYOTES

On one side of our yard a wooden fence blocks the view, but at the north end between that fence and the neighbor's garden shed is a gap where we can see right into their yard. One March day in between storms I was standing at the kitchen sink when I happened to look out the window just as a coyote trotted past the gap and disappeared behind the fence. Read More 

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BREAKFAST CEREAL

Starting to write an essay, or a poem, or a short story, is like going shopping with the whole world as your marketplace.

It's like the cereal aisle: a mile-long aisle six shelves high filled with brightly colored boxes, and you walk slowly along reading the similar-sounding names of the cereals. All bran, Multi bran, Multibran flakes, all bran grains. Deciding among 200 kinds of cereal is daunting and even anxiogenic.

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NAMING THE DEAD

It's funny, isn't it, how people often get nervous about saying the name of a recently dead person. When we run into a widow, or a newly-orphaned adult, or a parent whose child has died, we'll say, “How are you doing? I'm so sorry for your loss. Is there anything I can do?”  Read More 
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THE CHIMNEY SWEEP

As I lay awake last night at three in the morning, casting around for something to think about other than my failures, mistakes, and sins, in the back, or at least the side, of my mind I was silently reciting Blake's “The Chimney Sweep,” which I had memorized many years ago because I had a recording of Gregg Brown singing Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience, and since I loved his voice I listened to it over and over again, until smaller players and tinnier recordings replaced my little stereo and my vinyl records, and I never got around to replacing them.  Read More 
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WATCHING WILDLIFE

The other day I saw a video of a weatherman standing in front of a live camera, talking about, of all things, the weather. He was pointing out at the San Francisco Bay, and was about to launch into a weather update, when suddenly the upside down face of a giant, wild-eyed bird appearedat the top of the screen, peering out at us.  Read More 
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CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT UNFAIR TO BIRDS

The other day Pippin and I got a late start on our morning walk. It was pretty darned cold, so we strode briskly down the hill through the bright sunshine. As we came to the end of the street, I heard a screech owl calling, what the Cornell Lab of Ornithology refers to as its Agitated Bark and Bill Clap. Read More 
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TWELVE

Taking Aim
My Companion and I had a visit this summer from our twelve-year-old grandson and his mother. He’s two inches taller than he was last year, he has braces, and he still wears his beautiful blond hair in a buzz cut, which might look fine on a military man but is not what I’d prefer to see on a grandson. However, until someone consults me on the style I prefer, I will hold my tongue. Read More 
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ONE WILD LIFE

There was a time when I could go to any garden center – yea, even unto a big box store – and wander through the aisles as if through a wonderland of vegetative possibility. The stunning colors, the surprising shapes of blossoms and leaves, everything was subject to my phytophilia. If it was in a pot and would grow in the ground, I brought it home and planted it.  Read More 
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JULY DAY

I went over to Sea Call Farm this morning to check on my tomatoes and squash, which I had not seen for a week or so. After parting the waves of purslane and pigweed, I saw that most of my planted things had so far survived. One pumpkin had only one sad-looking leaf, but just about everyone else – the tomatoes, the beans, the chard, the leeks, the gladioli, and the white pumpkins – was churning out leaves and blossoms like nobody’s business.  Read More 
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VERISIMILITUDE

My Teddy Bear
One of the problems writers run into on occasion is how to get a character from Point A to Point B. Say you have just completed an exciting scene where Vladimir and Estragon are having a conversation under a tree; now you want to get them into the front row at a beauty pageant, so they can make some comments on the contestants. How do you do it?  Read More 
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