Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mimosas and Boon Jugs

As Ward Cleaver used to say, Good morning, June! [SOUND: rooster crowing] And it is a good morning, all that heat and humidity chased away, high in the balmy seventies. [Singers: “Septa-guinta!”]

This is “FM/AM” J. Jason, DJ, spanning the year one initial at a time. And of course, we’re moving through the moniker, saying so long to the J. and hello to the Jason, which’ll take us from July clear through November. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

So, what does the end of June have in common with the finale of “Citizen Kane”? Give up? A silent e! [SOUND: groan] I knew you’d like that.

Moving right along, it’s time for a flower report from our day-to-day color guy, “Mt. Wt.” Friss…

Mt. Wt.: (Andy Devine voice) This is Mountain-Weight Friss, former professional wrestler who gave up full-nelsons for nature, with the June flower report. J, it’s a big time for Albizia julibrissin, better known as the silk-tree or mimosa. Its delicate little silky flowers, which look like pink and white pompoms, are something to see. This spectacular tree was introduced to the US from Asia in 1745. Also coming out now are the hoboes, of course, by which I mean the roadside meadow gang: the chicory, tiger lily, black-eyed susan, tansy, goldenrod, and Queen Anne’s Lace. It’s all good, J.

Thanks, Mt Wt. Now how about a June song? It’s Little Richard, singing “By the Light of the Silvery Moon.”

[Little Richard]

Not exactly your grandpa’s version! Well, what can we say about the last day of June? It’s Mike Tyson and Czeslaw Milosz’s birthday. One fought for freedom of expression and the other fought for fortune and fame, with a piece of ear on the side. It’s also the birthday of the playwright John Gay, who wrote his own epitaph: "Life is a jest, and all things show it. I thought so once, and now I know it."

Speaking of which, we haven’t said much about June bugs, those big clumsy beetles that crash into screen doors or sometimes the back of your neck this time of year. Not that there’s much to say. On the other hand, there’s a song about its cousin, the boon jug, which goes:

I wish I was a
a hippopopotami,
But since I am not,
and never can hope to be
a rhinocerarius
a hippopopotami…
I’m a boon jug,
I’m a deeble,
I buzz and hit my head against a tree,

Well, that’s about all we have time for. Thank you, June, for Flag Day and the fireflies and the night herons and the mimosa and the black-eyed susans, and for Susan Heyward and Lena Horne, whose birthday it also is today. We’ll see you next year. For now, this is FM/AM J. Jason, DJ, saying: Be kind, keep an open mind, and see what you find!

[Reprise, Fats Waller, “By the Light of the Silvery Moon”]

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Looking Up

I am lying on a blanket on a tarp on the Great Lawn of Tanglewood. My head is in my wife's lap. To my left, beyond a lot of other people on the lawn with blankets and umbrellas and picnic dinners, is the Koussevitsky Music Shed, where A Prairie Home Companion is broadcasting live. A real-time radio show, just like in the 1940s, except outside.

I am equally interested, maybe more interested, in what's overhead. It's a sycamore tree. The leaves are big—layers of green—and among them is a network of interstices, pieces of white sky, shaped like states, or metropolitan areas, a map of green and white.

Meanwhile, in the white sky to the left of the tree, between the tree and the music, a swallow is dipping and cutting, a small but precise silhouette.

It is this confluence of ingredients—Carol, lawn, tree, sky, music, and swallow—that I will take away as a snow globe of June, a reminder that summer's invitation, and sometimes obligation, is to look up.

The tree canopy was pretty much done in May, but in June it's a settled thing, and not yet tired. It's still an achievement, but well past spring's "ain't-I-the-one!" It's been around for a while, it's the trees' food factory, the birds' condominium. By now, it's what trees look like. At night they rustle like they know it all. In a few months (far away) the idea of losing these leaves will be a losing of companionship. Because of April and May's welcome, yes, but more because of June's status quo. It's shade. It's ambience. It's a cool and canopied walk in the woods.

Then there's the summer sky. Summer sky. Always something going on. Armadas of cumulus, organizing, heating up, into baleful bailiwicks of bilious thunderheads. What's it going to do? Was that thunder? No, it's clearing in the west. Could be a rainbow, a tornado, hail. Or a powder blue, innocent sky striped with jet contrails, manmade vapor-graffiti that does who-knows-what to the atmosphere. Yet I don't have the same asperity toward skywriters, maybe because you seldom see them anymore. The smoke signals of the last century. Summer sky. Swallows and chimney swifts and nighthawks marking it briefly like that disappearing line on the magic slate. Probably more studied than in any other season, if only because we're more apt to be lying on our backs against a grassy or sandy wall, looking up.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"It's time to turn!"

This post checked in at a minute before midnight on the 21st—the last drop of the longest day of the year. Now three days have spun by, not really shorter, unless by seconds. But that's the ironic situation of summer—starts full to the brim and then spends the rest of its term leaking time.

Or giving time away, really. Siphoning seconds ("Who wants seconds?"), then minutes, of day to night. Summer is night's friend, and night returns the favor in long dusks and night trees rustling with confidential breezes.

During the day, summer is like the Sugar Daddy we used to buy at Shippan Beach, a candy v.i.p., long and caramel-colored, hell on teeth, but a long laster, and inevitably you get sand on it.

Summer is "There's nothing to do" because there's too much potential but not enough edge. It's the open sea, the perfect wave, the tyrannosaurus rex who really just wants to be friends. It's Jayne Mansfield on an ocean liner or Annette Funicello in a canoe. It's every great idea you've ever had that you've seen melt away like a Sugar Daddy left on the dashboard.

Summer is Tan Turnover Time on radio station KELP in El Paso, Texas, c. 1965: "It's time to turn!" just before "Woolly Bully" comes on at Number 6: "Uno! Dos! One, two, tres, quatro..." and ten teenagers obediently turn so they don't get burned...

And it's having to go to bed at 7:00, c. 1954, when it's still SO light out and the outside sounds sort of melt together as you look at the gauzy white curtain in the room and everything goes milky.

Summer is the ultimate scratch pad, is what it is, or maybe one of those magic slates that you draw on with a stylus that leaves a broken line and then you lift the plastic sheet and the tree and the monkey unstick and disappear into oblivion.

It's the dreamiest. It's the ginchiest.
It's the rackatoon (thunder) and the seventh inning stretch.
It's what joins spring to fall: it's sprawl.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Such a night

You know that
song by Dr. John, with the perfect phrase for, well, what it is: sweet confusion under the moonlight. Romance. Maybe, baby. The tremulous in-between. It was also in that paean to the possibilities of hormonal adolescence, Lou Christie's "Lightnin' Strikes," with the orgasmic refrain, "I can't stop! I can't stop! I got lightning striking again and again and again and again...."

Which brings me to the fireflies.

Fireflies are more than part of June, they clarify June. Or looking for them does. Which I did last Saturday evening in Rock Meadow, with the light dimming, but lingering, like the last moments in the life of a lemon drop. This is the best time to see fireflies, in that dimming light, in which things happen. (And this time the music is the incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream, by Felix Mendelssohn. Because that's what it is, too. Fairy business.) Seeing a spark moving over the tall meadow grass in the half-light, or momentarily in the recesses of a bush. Not fire, though. A light without heat. There's science to explain it. Bioluminescence. Cold light. But never mind that. This is news. News on a summer night.

For a while it's a game of light-catching. There. Where? There! And because it has been a couple of summers since I saw them, and I'm always afraid their numbers are dwindling, it's a few steps along the path, pausing on the boardwalk, and light-catching another and another, even though stopping leaves you exposed to br'er mosquito, whose numbers never dwindle. And then the little amazement—living lights—starts to become a known phenomenon again, as the light drains down to a tablespoon and it's a night epic. Signals. The whole meadow is involved. The crickets are involved, always were, spooling and unspooling their time tickers. Take off your glasses and the flashes become pale sequins. Big as the seed-coins of the honesty plant.

Walking back, past the big dark trees and the little dark bushes, under the half-a-moon, which has taken almost all the light, it's a different night. Things in a simpler arrangement. Innocence seems to be the right word, but innocence not as a "not," but as the news that things are what they seem, basically. Whatever they seem.


There was a coda to the night. As we were getting ready for bed, turning off the lights, Matt peered out the window at the breezy, halfmoonlit night and said, "I kind of want to go out there." So we ended up sitting in a couple of chairs in the dark of the screened-in back porch, facing the moon as it slowly slipped down through the leaves of the big maple next door. And we talked, like a father and son on a summer night. What did we talk about? Night stuff. The idea that there's another surface out there, the moon. The even more amazing idea of stars. Carl Sagan, a favorite of Matt's, determining somehow that there are only five other habitable places in the universe. Monsters. What people believe. God? Nature? Aliens? How they wouldn't necessarily be Brainiacs. The Twilight Zone. Kurt Vonnegut. Doctor Who. And whether the fact we're so insignificant, but one-in-a-gazillion, means that we don't matter or that we matter even more?

June nights. Gotta love 'em.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Junior Gods

The squirrels were quiet. I wasn’t sure what this meant. Even yesterday I could hear them galloping back and forth behind the soffit, a kind of closed eave lining the roof. They had squeezed into it, silly beasts—one or two of them—and then couldn't get back out.

All this I learned after the fact. Listening to the thundering herd over my head last week, I figured they were on top of the roof. I'd seen four or five playing tag among the chimneys. The mewing sound that also filtered down I figured belonged to an audience of mourning doves.

Wiser people who already knew what a soffit was—my wife, my father-in-law, my next-door neighbor—begged to differ. "I can hear them whimpering," said Bob, the neighbor (the mourning doves?). "I can hear the babies calling from the tree. It's tearing me up."

Finally recognizing the cruelty of my ignorance (“You mean there's a space between the ceiling and the roof?”), I called an outfit called Critter Control. Their ad had silhouettes of a raccoon and a squirrel and said “Humane Removal.” It turned out to be $279 for the visit, plus $79 per squirrel, plus any necessary repair to the roof. Yikes. But how could I shop around when every second was bringing them closer to death? If they weren’t dead already.


Every now and then life reminds us that we are, in essence, junior gods. We didn’t create this world, but we scratched and clawed our way to the top of the executive ladder, building houses where squirrels get trapped, mice run around in the silverware drawer, and moths use the kitchen cupboards as a maternity ward. So then we have to decide what lives, what dies, what gets trapped and released, what gets squashed in a tissue and flushed down the toilet or gathered in a napkin and released into the welcoming air.

I've had my share of Junior God moments. The first one may have been the downy woodpecker that banged into our living room window when I was a kid, knocking itself out. I resisted my dad's proposed mercy-killing and counter-proposed bringing it around to the birdbath in the backyard, where it revived, climbed my leg, and flew away. Give me a JG merit badge for that. But take it away for the mouse I unknowingly let die in a neglected Have-a-heart trap a few years ago.

Then there was the little white pigeon I "saved" from an impending blizzard. It eerily wouldn't fly away as I approached it, walking down Boylston St. in downtown Boston. I passed it, stopped, came back. I decided it was a lost magician's dove. I cornered it, picked it up, and stuffed it inside my coat, harboring it beside my unsuspecting subway and bus seatmates all the way home. I kept it in my garage for three days, till the weather improved. A magician neighbor came over to take a look. She doubted it was anything other than a white wild pigeon. On the third day I kept the garage door open and when I got home from work, the ark was empty. Had I done anything more than interrupt, or, worse, disrupt, its sensible pigeony life?


The Critter Control guy came down the ladder with a lively gray squirrel somersaulting around in a cage trap. He explained that he was required by law to euthanize it. He couldn't release it unless I gave permission to let it go in my backyard. If I did, would the squirrel be so stupid as to return to its torture chamber, starting the process all over again? The guy assured me that squirrels were that stupid. Nevertheless, I couldn't live with the loathing of my neighbor, forever branding me a squirrel-killer. A pardon from the governor it was. And it felt pretty good to see the little guy go skittering up the tree. (Not the Critter Control guy. The little squirrely guy.)

So far, in two days, two more squirrels have gone flying out of the cage into my backyard and skittering back up the tree. They think it's great fun. They get peanuts in the cage. They get a ride down the ladder. And they get to do it all over again. (I'm thinking of putting up a "You must be this big" sign). And what do I get? A cheap Junior God merit badge, like a toy you'd find in a crackerjack box.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Night Fliers

Sometimes the pad is half-blank. And I get a reproachful look from June 11 and June 12 as they rotate by, as if to say, "Wasn't we eventful enough for you, Blink?" (That's what they call us: Blink.) "Couldn't you find sup'm almanac-worthy to write about? Like maybe Jacques Cousteau's 100th birthday?" Sorry, boys.

Anyway, I doubt if they really care whether I commemorate them or not. It's me—fine, I—who feels the responsibility to fill the blanks. Even when all I have is a Bird and a Dream. Kind of like Walter Lantz.

The bird is the dashingly-named Black-Crowned Night Heron. ("Night" as an adjective confers a rakish, 40s radio, air of mystery. "I am. . . the Night Heron." [SOUND: Heavy wingbeats. Sinister music up.])

And of course the best place to see night herons is Mystic Lake. From the patch of woods where the lake becomes the river, you can count them along the Arlington shore: 2...5...8...10...14... A couple of brown juveniles, but mostly adults: dress white below, black and pearl-gray above. Mostly hunkered. Some on rocks. Some in trees. Some in the weeds. One or two in the water. It's faintly unsettling, if you didn't know, like the gathering of crows in Hitchcock's "The Birds." Day is not their active time, but now and then one will open its wide wings and change trees—more startling, maybe, than a Great Blue, for its smaller size. And briefly, you are a wildlife photographer on the Xingu River in Brazil, having discovered a rare colony of Black-Crowned Night Herons! [SOUND: Squonk!]

The following day I paid a visit to Meadowbrook, a tiny wetland tucked between a cemetery and a roadway along that fringe of shoreline. As I was leaning my bike, a large bird flew into a tree in front of me. I sidled carefully behind an intervening bush. Searched the tree. Nothing; then, out on a bare limb, to the left— there it was, silhouetted, broadwise. The night heron. Fixing me with a red eye.

Some encounters with birds are kind of otherworldly. I seem to have stepped into a Japanese folktale. Heron, cagily moving along the limb, lifting giant feet. Oversized head, compact body. Turning toward me, suddenly going slim as a hatchet blade. Supply dialogue. It flinches, flies away


I made a vow to a woman at a party that I would never be the kind of blogger who wrote about his dreams. But this is too good to forget: The Flying Boy and Blanche the Mousse Queen. It starts with a group of old men, including me, who live in an underground cavern (but roomy) in Nebraska. There is also a young boy, maybe ten, who has a flying machine, brown, boxy, kind of old-fashioned, which he practices flying in every day. We are kind of his doting uncles. One day he breaks through the ceiling of the cavern into the outer sky. A search ensues and becomes widespread, set in a large city, like New York. We are trying to find him, but keep focusing on the wrong flying machine. There seem to be a lot of copycats buzzing around.

While the other uncles are waiting on a skyscraper, I am driving around. Everyone knows about the missing boy. This guy I fall in with, a gumshoe, suggests we take a break to get a mango mousse at Blanche's. I opt for banana. We talk about the boy. It's not certain he wants to be rescued. Where is he going? At some point, Blanche the mousse queen morphs into a small square hand-held object, like a pocket calculator, except made of wood. She demonstrates her "permeability" by inviting me to poke her exterior with pencils. Eventually, I fit her with a metal outer jacket, and tenderly let her heal.

Good night, Blanche; good night, flying boy; good night, heron

Thursday, June 10, 2010

High tide

June tenth. A date as snug and neat as a new pair of Keds, all laced up and ready to cha-cha.

June has its act together. Look at all the birds that get married in June. Pastor Owl and Reb Goldfinch officiating. And the baby birds that fledge. And more to come. Fireflies! New rounds of flowers! The "high-tide of the year," as Jim Lowell puts it in his "What is so rare?" poem.

If May was migration and courtship, then June is arrival and settling down. Paying the first down payment. Embarking up the wrong tree—correcting—embarking up the right tree. Getting out in the sailboat, doing grand things with tools and paintbrushes. Daring to eat a peach, a plum, an apricot, cherries. Corn on the cob. Picking strawberries at Russell Orchards on Father's Day, then eating strawberry shortcake while listening to Old Cold Tater play bluegrass.

June is perfect. June is mature. June is a little boring. But not jejune (empty, meager, puerile). June Lockhart, June Allyson, June Havoc. Well, maybe not June Havoc. Maybe June Haver, who was married to Fred MacMurray.

June is part spring, part summer, and it can be part sunburn and part poison ivy and mosquito bite and hurricane. (Okay, June Havoc, too. And June Carter. And the June Taylor dancers [above, right] .) June takes some getting to know. I'll get back to you.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Band of Brothers

We interrupt this life to go back to college. It's not the old dream of having to complete History (not having shown up in class for years) so I can finally graduate. I graduated. I'm sure of it. It says so on my resumé. It's because it's a big round number since I graduated. 40 years. And when that happens, it's customary to go back. Why? You'll see why when you get there. So I did, and I did.

It wasn't so much because of the place. Colgate University, picked out of the College Boards catalog, was nice enough to accept me, so I returned the favor, and found myself in this beautiful campus in a remote valley in upstate New York, having spent the previous five years among the roadrunners and chaparral in El Paso, Texas. Colgate seemed a bit like Hogwarts, minus the owls and robes. I didn't love it. But I gained a sympathy with the old granite institution. Enough that there was a class or two; a teacher or two; a gold and blue day in October; and political and cultural events that dragged the 19th-century graybeard protesting into the late 20th.

A bigger reason to go back was history, which that "I never graduated" dream was probably getting at. The history of going from age 18 to 21. Also the zeitgeist: From "Snoopy and the Red Baron" to The Doors. We changed, at least a little. It's not like we discovered who we were and what our life's path would be, although some of us may well have. But we definitely fledged, like those red-tailed hawks I was writing about last week. (In my case, I fledged enough so I could drop out of graduate school, move to Boston, work in a warehouse, hitchhike around the West, hop a freight train, get arrested for drunk and disorderly in Ann Arbor, and end up as writer-in-residence in Philips Exeter, all in 1971.)

The real reason to go back (naturally) was the we. The guys. Not that I'd been totally out of the loop. I've stayed in touch with maybe a dozen classmates over the years, first by letter and visit, then email, occasional phone calls, and a once-every-few-years dinner. But there's a difference between being in touch out in the world and going back to the scene of the crime. Maybe passing sixty creates a bigger gap that it's easier to bridge if you get back to where you were 21 together the first time. And if you do so with enough people, a quorum, who will always be as young and as old as you are, so the age ceases to be relevant and the evidence of it soon disappears into the familiar.

There were lots of events spread over three days. Several were edifying presentations involving guys from our class. That was a different kind of revelation, which I already knew: the class of 1970 includes extraordinary people, some downright famous.

The more elusive revelation was the degree to which we all matter to each other, still. You don't fully appreciate that until after several days of talking and listening, eating and drinking, remembering and advising, comparing and reassuring, being a little 21, a lot 61, and variously in between. Some of this evolved in the class tent; some at the class banquet; and for many of us, at what came to be called the White Eagle Nightowl Drinking Club and Debate Society (see above, courtesy of Rick Clogher). It's true that this is bound to be the payoff for a self-selecting group of returnees. But this reunion felt different from others I've been to. More necessary.

On the post for February 4, I proposed that two days of the year—2/4 and 6/8—be enshrined as Who Do We Appreciate? Day. 2/4 offered a variety of strangers on the subway, my dental hygienist, and Garrison Keillor, among others. For 6/8, I drink another toast—Irish Breakfast tea will have to do—to the band of brothers and their significant others. In appreciation—the still alive and kicking kind. Looking forward to gathering again.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What is so rare as the third of June?

If today were June the third—which it's not any more, due to the propensity of the Earth to keep on turning, but if it were, this would be a much more timely treatise on the popularity of June the third in the popular song. For example:

There's Bobbie Gentry's great "Ode to Billie Joe," which begins, with a hint of bad things to come, "It was the third of June, another sleepy dusty Delta day..."

There's "Third of June," by Corey Hart, with the lyric, "Oh dance with me / under the bright moon / third of June..."

There's a song by an 80s Swiss band, Yello, called "3rd of June" with the now-scary opening:
"This is the 3rd of June, 1988
A highly unimportant day
Some airplane gliding into one of the bigger clouds over Manhattan..."

And finally, there's a great Fats Waller number from 1935: "Where Were You on the Night of June the Third?" which takes the form of a mock-third degree:

Where were you on the night of June the third?
Whadja do on the night of June the third?
Did you meet a stranger?
Did you take a walk?
Was your heart in danger?...

...and it turns out, of course, that she ("you") was actually with the singer on the night in question. Kind of sexy role-playing.

It's not that surprising that June the third comes up so often when a date is called for in a song. June's a great setting month. It's romantic, it's got possibilities, it can be gothic or innocent or both. And third flows better than any other one-syllable ordinal number would. (First is too crisp. Fourth, fifth, and so on have those mothy final th sounds.)

In fact, I would like to nominate June the third to be the day referred to in James Russell Lowell's giggle-worthy poem,"What is so rare as a day in June?" Which starts...

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers

How many schoolkids have snickered at "Every clod feels a stir of might"? Millions? To say nothing of Heaven laying her warm ear over earth.

But that's still an intriguing question: What is so rare as a day in June? An undercooked hamburger? No, he's probably talking about rare as in "marked by unusual quality, merit, or appeal." From an almanacker's point of view, this is June-centric thinking. No doubt, it's easy to be seduced by the daisies and the roses, the wedding bouquets, the "deluge of summer," as Lowell calls it. Hey, school's out! What's not to like? But "perfect days"? Careful, Jim.

On the other hand, if you take one day in June to be that one-in-366, then why not the songwriter's choice, June the third? Heaven doesn't have to lay her warm ear on the ground to hear if the earth is in tune and risk encountering some clod with an erection. It's in tune! It's in tune!

On the third hand, I gotta say, today, June the 7th, is pretty gorgeous. If that's the kind of thing you like. And the forecast for tomorrow could be even better. Mmm, baby.

Class dismissed!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rhymes with June

June, moon, croon, spoon, spitoon, high noon, baboon, macaroon, gold doubloon, Dennis Foon, Norman Bethune, Jamie Woon, Rocky Raccoon, Lorna Doone, Granfalloon, see you soon...

It's June.

I took a walk into the June woods of the Brooks Estate with friend Ed Hazell. The June woods are like one of those "Find the hidden animals" puzzles. Ed is good at solving these. Yesterday (June 1)...well, let him tell it:

Walking out of Brooks this morning on the path back to Terrier [Road], I came face-to-face with a very scruffy fox. I saw him before he saw me, so I stopped and waited for him to come around a bend in the path. He stopped, we stared at one another for a few moments, then he calmly stepped off the path, circled around me through the woods, stepped back onto the path, and continued on his way. He didn't make a sound.

Today's puzzle revealed, first, a mourning dove in her rough stick nest, just off the boardwalk to Brooks Pond. Her chicks had hatched and she was doing the regurgitation tango with one of them, a deeply intimate kiss that showed no sign of ending in the five minutes we watched.

Second stop on the stations of the nest revealed two oriole's purses, a foot apart, in a low-hanging branch over the pond. A male, perhaps father to one, put on a Tropicana floor show in a nearby treetop: preening, singing, looking for grubs, encouraging us to move along. We did.

The third hidden bird was a nesting female wood thrush in a flowering shrub along a third path. She was in a "freeze" position, head tipped back, baring her streaky white and brown throat like a bittern. We didn't stay long. And were relieved to hear the sylvan, fluty song of a male shortly after, perhaps an all-clear sign.

The June woods puzzle also included a redstart—breeder or late migrant?—a lustily teakettling Carolina wren, and a wheeping, tree-fluttering, great-crested flycatcher, he of the long cinnamon tail. There were other hiders we only heard, like the Eastern wood-pewee, calling its name like a lost-and-found Boy Scout, and the "hoarse robin" singsong of a scarlet tanager. (Those grapes were too sour, anyway, confided the fox.)

One final irony. The bird one usually hunts for in vain among the leaf shadows, the master hider, the red-eyed vireo, flew from one exposed branch to another. I noted that this plain, dun-green, laconic vireo reminded me of Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, whose endurance depends on the success of his slow-pitch knuckleball, nothing flashy, sometimes maddening to the batter, sometimes to Red Sox Nation.

It's all right, says the red-sox vireo. It's June. it's summer. Hit. Out. Who cares? A game's a game.