[lit-ideas] Hereabouts

  • From: David Ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 16 Aug 2015 11:23:24 -0700

Two parties this week, quite the social round. At a party held beside a pool I
learned that the mental quirk some people (including me) experience on high
balconies, the slight and absolutely resistible urge to throw yourself off, can
extend to throwing yourself into a pool. What would be next? An urge to throw
yourself into cakes? Puddles? "Oh look, small water, I could aim for that."

To the second party we invited chickens. Since the party was being held in our
back yard, this seemed only fair. The trick was keeping them and their pooh
away from guests and the barbecue, where cousins' drumsticks were on the grill.
Among the guests was one of J's high school teachers, who brought a small
daughter. That's the background. Now, I start charcoal with dried Douglas Fir
that falls in Winter storms, so I was out of sight of people on the terrace,
with my hands and arms full of dried brown fir, in the company of chickens,
when I looked up to see a being straight out of a Victorian painting, a wee
blonde in a white dress, holding aloft in evident wonder a single, mottled
feather. Rocky whispered, proudly, "One of mine."

Milk close to or even past the turn, remains a fowl favorite. And corn cobs.
But top of the pops, at least among the lower orders, are stale Cheerios. Such
glee when I open the back door and rattle the bag. Cheerios are subversive.
With a large piece of stale bread, the pecking order means that Cheddar gets
very little. But Cheerios scatter, so even she can get stuck right in. She's
a happy camper, and came over to express gratitude.
"The horn of plenty, where you find all this stuff, is it big? Really quite
wonderful, in my view. Swiss."
"By 'Swiss,' you mean?"
"Swiss or Swedish."
"My question was why you associate a horn of plenty with places you know
nothing about."
"I think you'll find the word describes a sound. 'Swiss, swiss,' like wind."
"You mean 'swish.'"
"No, Swiss."
"If Swiss is a sound, what's Swedish?"
"A hawk would be Swiss. Swedish would be...well I can't think of an example.
Maybe Mimo?"
I threw up my hands. "Until I know what Swedish means, I don't know what
you're saying."
"Well you're the one who introduced the term."
"You were talking to the other god."
"I was?"
"You were."
"A while back."
I searched my memory. "Were we discussing Volvos?"
"And a chef, who did not sound Swiss at all. Mimo's definitely not Swiss, like
a hawk."
"Could we call her German?"
"What's German?"
"It's between Swedish and Swiss."
Mimo wandered up. "You're German," said Cheddar.
"Bonkers," said Mimo, with a nod of the head toward her fellow fowl.

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon
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