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Insights Out of Doors by Tom (WordWulf) SternerHowe

Insights Out of Doors

A late spring, early summer day

I open the garage door

sit in my favorite chair and light a cigar

There is the noise of thunder overhead

No, a tremendous galloping across the roof

A gang of squirrels (I count twenty)

fly into a nearby aspen

Chu-chu-chuttering in squirrel-speak

They charge across the street en masse

and scale the neighbor’s chain-link fence


A blue jay, resplendent in ceremonial masque

alights on the back of my pickup ten feet away

stares at me in its one-eye-at-a-time

wise and wonderful, birdlike way

I say, “How ‘bout those squirrels?”

The jay swoops over the cab of the truck

lands on a roof just over there

proceeds to join me watching the squirrel hordes

who are playing ‘King of the Mountain’

toppling each other from the top rail of the chain-link


It’s eleven a.m. and a fine mist of rain is falling

A morning dove coos a magnificent

accompaniment to the squirrels’ antics

A host of crows, blue-black, aflutter

claim spaces on the top rail

Sparrows follow in their wake

fill a dozen or so chain-link diamonds

with their tiny darting bodies

The squirrels pay no attention, continue to frolic

The birds take wing, fly back to the trees

where I can’t see them again


The neighbor to the west of me

a wise man and sage poet

according to reports from my wife

arrives with a can of gasoline

and soon begins the chore of mowing his lawn

I am annoyed at first

because I can no longer hear the dove

but, as with the birds

the squirrels pay no heed his man noise

Enter the boy across the street

a bothersome and precocious Child

He slams the gate and waves his arms

laughs uproariously as the birds rise in waves

and the squirrels take flight

They charge into my front yard

where they bounce through the boughs

of the crabapple tree


They’re too close for me to watch now

but movement in the chain-link

alerts me to the fact

that the sparrows have returned

Their heads bob up and down

I am lost to their wild rhythm

They remind me of nature’s rendition

of Hollywood Squares

This space was filled with my Children
and GrandChildren a week ago today

I remember as I watch the wind

toy with the graduation decorations

so lovingly hung by my daughters

in celebration of their younger brother’s accomplishments


I was chasing my GrandSons round and round the yard

lifting them into the back of my truck to play

pushing them high on the wooden airplane swing

given me by my Father-in-law

tied to a stout limb in the apple tree

My boys and girls had a water fight

splashed their way through the afternoon

A bit like the squirrels

so rapt was I in the joy of life

that I didn’t notice my fellow creatures

I’ll bet they were watching though

quick-eyed and curious

as we did that thing they do so well

spread ourselves joyously across

a perfect and delightful, pre-summer

Colorado day


The boy’s father across the street

has begun to clean his bright red Dodge

The drone of his vacuum cleaner wakes me

A large black feral cat

struts through the flowerbed next to the chain-link

and effectively clears the deck

Squirrels and birds alike

take to the trees and give him hell

A cop in an SUV idles by

stares over his sunglasses at the man in the garage

He’s too cool to wave and so am I

It is the weigh of things

say the crow to the sparrow, caw caw caw

and the feral cat climbs into my lap


 © 2005 Tom (WordWulf) SternerHowe

Posted: June 14, 2005 

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