La Kid Totally Defeats UD at…

… this morning’s Wordle. It took me five moves.

Les UDs came back from Rehoboth Beach to a big treefall in their front yard.

They knew all about it, because their neighbors took pictures and emailed them. Under wet, heavy snow, the main tree had fallen on some bundled wires, so there was a safety issue. PEPCO came out and pulled the wires back up, and then Asplundh came out and took away a lot of the big stuff.

Les UDs have been raking, lopping, hatcheting, and sawing the rest of it. Good honest work. We drag everything out to the front of the house and wait for the town maintenance guys to haul it away.

La Vie UD
Anthurium in the cold winter sun.

UD’s Little Town of Garrett Park Struggles with an Embarrassment of Riches.

The next segment of the [Town Council] meeting is action items — those that require a vote of the Council. There was only one, but a big one: introduction of the mid-year changes in the town’s budget. Before the vote, the explanation and discussion went on for more than an hour. The big picture is that the budget adjustment deals with what to do with the unexpectedly large carry-over of funds from the previous fiscal year ($480,000 rather than the $70,000 forecast in the initial budget). Despite the large carryover, the mid-year adjustment includes no change in projected tax revenue. The other big item is that the town has now received over $500,000 as the first chunk of funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), to be expended on as yet undetermined town projects…

From this month’s Garrett Park Bugle.

UD’s Little Urban Denizen…

La Kid, beams beneath a holiday display in sunny Washington, DC.

Mother: Heron-Watching at Lake Wilde, Columbia, MD. Daughter: Photographing Beautifully Tangled Limbs at Howth, Ireland.
3:27 AM here, and it’s exactly like this.
I mean, add skimming white clouds and clear cold air! But exactly like this. Les UDs shiver on the bedroom deck, thrilled.

[photo CNN]


the New-moon winter-bright!
         And overspread with phantom light,
         (With swimming phantom light o’erspread
         But rimmed and circled by a silver thread)
I see the old Moon in her lap…


But overspread with orange light!


And now – 3:57 AM – it’s like this – the merest sliver of silver… And because it sheds so little light, and because it’s a clear winter night, the STARS are out like mad


4:57 and it’s brightening up again. 50/50 bright/dark. Didn’t expect that.

Weathered birdbox…
… at the Woodstock Special Equestrian Park, site of today’s hike. A fully sunlit, mild, ridiculously beautiful late autumn day.
Echt Autumn in Garrett Park.

The heart of the heart of it, the height of the height of the season, and today is Market Day, so absolutely everyone is walking down and up Rokeby Avenue as UD rakes bright wet leaves. The feel is pre-industrial — a studied pre-industrialism, I guess – with almost-carless village streets and trains that trundle through town with a mild choo. Everyone’s exhilarated and madly social with the weather so pure. Clear air, sunlight, and enough wind to set going masses of leaves that catch onto our container plants. My neighbors are stirred to life… They gather in the street in front of UD‘s house, waving at her as she rakes, and their groups enlarge with dog walkers and carriers of fresh tomatoes, and everyone is as extroverted as they’re ever going to be, because the earth in this hyper-keen aspect excites them and makes them want to make sure everyone else is on board. Amazing day. Look at that dogwood. Can you believe this day?

Gabe, a young chef, interrupts my raking to walk my paths with me in search of mushrooms. I tell him I’ve seen scads, but have been pulverizing them with my rake. Don’t. Pick them up. Put them in a paper bag, and drop them at my house. He reels off all the types and I say I’m so ignorant I have to assume everything’s poisonous. He says he has a friend who will give me good money if I have some exotic ones.

I spy new neighbors moving in across the street and trot over to welcome them and congratulate them on inheriting Caroline’s wildly flourishing garden. I tell them to knock on my door with questions, problems, etc. They are warm and happy and unoffended when I tell them two minutes after introductions that I’ve already forgotten both of their names. They repeat their names, and all I remember is Rebecca.

A little later, one of my neighbors, who just turned seventy and looks forty, wants to talk. We stand in my driveway. I lean on my rake. This birthday really has me thinking. I’m in pretty good shape. Let’s say I have another fifteen twenty years. How do I want to spend it? How do I want to make it count? He’s a reflective, sensitive man, and as I look at his youthful face I think Garrett Park is a place where you can instantly enter into way non-trivial conversations in your driveway. Dig in, says UD. You’re already doing the right things – your long every-other-day hikes, your reading, thinking, traveling [he’s planning to walk the Camino de Santiago]… Your family and your friends… Just keep doing what you’re doing, no? Yes of course but there’s the restlessness all thoughtful people feel, a sort of second-guessing about what we might be overlooking… Or just a sort of emotional overflow and you don’t know what to do with it… See Adam Phillips, “On Being Too Much For Ourselves.” Or – especially on a day like today – Saul Bellow, in Paris, in the spring:

The gloss the sun puts on the surroundings – the triumph of life, so to speak, the flourishing of everything makes me despair. I’ll never be able to keep up with all the massed hours of life-triumphant.

I wouldn’t mind, says UD to her neighbor, living long enough to be tired and achy enough not to be entirely shocked and appalled when I realize I’m about to die. He says: My mother was like that. A day before her ninetieth birthday she just said I’ve had enough and died.

Even in November…
UD’s garden’s still got it.
Exhausted milkweed flies its surrender flag.

My favorite is #17: “Having to tune two Steinway concert grand pianos (worth $195,000 each) in the spacious living room every year, even though no one in the house knows how to play them.”

It’s a list of problems specific to the very rich. It made UD toddle off to her Schaeffer baby grand and race through Praeludium in C Major BWV 933. So there.

A shadow under the aqueduct.

UD‘s walk today took her to the Monocacy Aqueduct, where she madly enjoyed the perfect cloudless afternoon along the C&O Canal.

The link up there shows you the aqueduct; her own image is a natural charcoal – a towpath shadow that looks like a butterfly chair seen from behind.

Things my neighbors have given me/offered to give me in the last twenty-four hours.
A brand new leather recliner (its color doesn’t fit the decor of the independent living townhouse Caroline and Nick just bought); a donut (my old friend Doug takes a long walk to Dunkin’ Donuts and back every Sunday, and comes to our door with a big box of them); and orange masking tape to wind around the black witches’ hats we put on our bulls for Halloween.
A jeweled web trembles…

… in the wet wind, along the side of UD‘s house.

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