A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pallid Bust of Pallas

The crows are still around, flying into the neighborhood at dusk and leaving at dawn, thousands of them. They make a racket at those times, as well as whenever they're disturbed during the night. If she hears a rustle of wings on our midnight walk, Taz barks at them, which sets off more flapping, lots of cawing, more barking, more flapping, more cawing, more barking. Sorry, neighbors.

The noise isn't so bad. I'm a lover of language, whether it's my own or that of another species and therefore essentially meaningless to me. They're going over their day I guess, occasionally warning one another about things like my dog, and maybe fighting over who gets the highest perch in the tree.

The droppings are another matter. Pretty disgusting. The snowbanks are orange--I guess they're eating a lot of berries. Cars that have to park on the curb are covered with bird shit. I've taken to wearing a slicker on my walks, just in case.

A little worrisome are the dead crows beginning to litter the landscape. Crows don't live too long, sometimes only a year or two, so with this many hanging around, there are bound to be some casualties. I've got five in my tiny yard alone, I can see several more in the park and court behind me, and I'm running across them in snowbanks as I walk around the neighborhood. Crows are very susceptible to West Nile virus. Could that be what's killing them?

I don't really want to fool around with diseased carcasses. But I have to admit to a fascination with taxidermy. I grew up in a house full of glass cases of raccoons, weasels, foxes, and birds. For $60, a guy on Reimers Road in Monson will stuff a crow. I can't think of too many things I'd rather have in my house than a beady-eyed crow, perched on a pallid bust of Pallas over my door. Too cool!

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Party Party

Holiday season is definitely upon us. Last night was not one, but two parties in the neighborhood for me. First was cocktails at the McIntosh, a very cool condo complex around the corner from me. The McIntosh is a converted shoe factory with high ceilings, exposed brick walls, huge windows, and other neat features. Almost half of the Downtown Book Ladies live there.

Book Lady Kathy was throwing a bash for her sister, Carol. How she managed to make it a surprise, if she did succeed, I have no idea, as they live right next door to one another. At least forty people showed up while I was there. The noise problem was solved by inviting most of the neighbors.

After I had sampled as many hors d'oeuvres as I could decently get away with, downed a couple of glasses of cava, sampled the Lillet punch, and of course chatted with everyone I knew, I followed Anna--another book lady--over to Kimball Towers, another condo complex a block away. The Kimball was the original Sheraton, very stately and grand. The first-floor meeting rooms are popular with the Armoury-Quadrangle Civic Association, which traditionally holds its holiday party there.

Jana Byrd was playing her sax, somebody who looked like Santa Claus but sounded suspiciously like Robert Louder had just handed out presents to the kids, and a few people were still sitting around. The three long tables holding beverages and tiered dishes of fancy pastries had been rather decimated, but I was stuffed anyway. Steve Baribeau, who headed up AQCA with me a couple of years ago, had an empty chair next to him, and I was happy to see him. Both homeowners, we chatted about--what else?--the cost of utilities, and our valiant efforts to deal with the cost of not freezing to death in New England. A sign of the times.

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