Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lee's Lees

A hurrricane named Lee is a hurricane you can almost have a cup of coffee with, but not without your guard up. It's a mysterious name, Lee, not telling all it knows.  Simple-seeming: one consonant, one vowel, one syllable. But elusive. Could be male or female. Could be Lee Marvin, Lee Remick, or Lee Harvey Oswald. Could be Robert E. Lee or Pinky Lee. It's another ironic name for a hurricane, following Irene, which means "peace."  A lee is "a place sheltered from the wind."

Unlike Irene, we are in the lees of Lee, the dregs, which is making for a wet week. A rainy, gray September is not much different from any other wet, gray, rainy month. It discourages uplift. It has the weary sound of windshield wipers on intermittent just as you realize there's not enough drizzle to cover its complaining sigh. Today's continuation of yesterday's rain began with the unwelcome but fitting sight of a few hundred little maggots making their blind way over and up and down the garbage container, which I'd put out for the trash collectors the night before--larvae-free, as far as I knew. I hosed it down, grimly and, to passing cars, redundantly, except the hose was way more effective as a vermicide than the drizzle.

The Sandpiper

On Thursday the last wet heavy downpour, amid which I drive my son to school, joining a long line of cars queued up in the AHS turnaround, off-loading kids to be educated by strangers on another first day of school -- or the year.

Back home, I finish Zeitoun while the rain thuds down like an old vendetta. Then just a grudge. Then it lets up, which is too bad because now it's merely wet outside and the sky is white and tight as a short-sheeted bed with the annoying schuss of cars and trucks going to unknown places.

Eventually I go outside to put a Netflix in the mailbox (the red envelope now as common and telling as the YOU-GOT-A-TICKET! orange of a traffic citation), and mosey down to Spy Pond, where I see piles of clouds massed and milling like a demobbed army waiting for a new war. This one, Lee, is over.

The Canada geese are avidly grazing, yanking up grass in their black bills like it's going out of style. I frown on this despoiling of the lawn, but I'm not willing to make like a dog and yap them into the water. Then I see with pleasure another bird on the periphery of the herd. It's a spotted sandpiper. I've seen it here before, again in company with the geese. It picks its way along the shore, flies briefly to a rock, where it teeters, as they do, then flies back and resumes its foraging. It's not tiny, maybe seven inches long, but among the grazing geese it's like a mouse, a mascot, one of those symbiotic little opportunists that hang around big animals in a fable-like way. The geese don't seem to mind, but it's not exactly underfoot either.

The moral may be: Birds of a different feather flock together in the lee of the weather.

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