Monday, June 16, 2014

Fox On the Run

     You might say that we are an urban family, living in the City of Buffalo and our dog Harold being lost and found here (thanks to the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter). So, country visits are cool and taken advantage of by all.
     They are also rare, and mainly consist of Val’s weekly (during the summer and spring) therapeutic horse riding sessions at the Rivendell Recreation Center on South Wales. While Val does her therapy session, Harold and I take a long country walk on the surrounding rolling country roads.
      Saturday is the day for Val’s horse riding, and this Saturday appeared to be a fine day for a walk; cloudy (hopefully the rain would not come), a bit cool and breezy but still with the temperature in the 60s, so neither Harold nor I would feel too hot or tire too fast. Happily, it also meant that I didn’t have to wear a hat. After Harold and I walked Val over to the stable and into the fine hands of the staff and volunteers at Rivendell (and these volunteers and staff are simply incredible people), off we went over the lawn and onto Warner Hill Road.
     Warner Hill Road, like the other roads in this rural area, is rolling lanes through mostly farms and horse stables, often both, along with houses, many old but some new builds. We take one of two basic routes, and this day we took Warner Hill Road about 3/4 of a mile (maybe a bit longer) to Merlau
I do not want to hear one joke about Fox News.
Road; we turn down Merlau Road, with a couple more homes but still very large properties and some farming, which heads mainly downhill at first. Harold and I usually go about 3/4 of a mile before heading back, making our walk about 3 miles, taking about 50 minutes and perfect timing for when Val’s session ends.
     Harold is in his glory during these country walks, with all of the scents and smells from animals, birds, crops, horses, cows and the like, of course with a lot of attention paid to the waste left behind by the animals. Harold also enjoys actual appearances by these animals, as well as some aquatic life. But about a half-mile down Merlau, we encountered even more interesting scents; first, a mound of brown fur kind of taken apart, then a larger pile with what appeared to be dried blood. The stench was incredible, that of a dead animal.
     Before we found anything more, while Harold was busy sniffing the fur, something caught my eye a couple of yards down the road. I looked up and saw a red fox crossing from our side of Merlau to the other; just then, Harold looked up and saw the fox, first stiffening his back and then starting to pull me toward the fox. The fox looked at us, noticed Harold and took off across the street and was last seen leaping into the tree line. Harold tried pulling more until I told him that we weren’t going to chase the fox, and then tugged once on the leash and he followed me.
     We started to walk back, but noticed the smell had become even worse, and in a couple of steps we came across the rest of the carcass of a woodchuck, smelling to high hell and teeming with maggots. Harold of course wanted to investigate further, but I convinced him otherwise and we returned to Rivendell in a few minutes. Harold maintained his usual Short Attention Span Theatre while I kept looking along the tree line and fields for the fox. We did get to see who I believe is the same red-winged blackbird we see every week we walk this way fly above us a couple of times and land on a utility pole. Upon our return, Harold once again enjoyed the smells of the horses and stable, and Val continues to tell him that they are kind of like really big horses.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Famous Green Raincoat

     Chance encounters, with objects as well as people, often lead to the best memories.
     I was taking some bedding from the washing machine to place on the back porch railings to dry (our dryer has decided to stop heating the air it puts out), and I had to walk through the room the porch connects to, a storage room of sorts.
     In that room, among old toilet fixtures and coffee makers for which accessories are no longer made, is a metal clothing rack on wheels, about 5 feet high, with some classic items on it; most notably may be my wife Val’s beloved Sweet Home High School letter jacket.
     But what caught my attention was the dark green rain coat that I inherited from my late father Edward, and I believe that he bought it new, which means it could have been any time from the late 940s, after he graduated from Grover Cleveland High School, or the early 1950s, after he returned from his U.S. Army Korean War service. After I hung up the laundry, I had to go back and check out the coat again, a coat which I pressed into service mainly for two destinations/reasons.
     The first thing I did as I took the coat off the hanger was look for and find the inside pocket patch, which reads “Hengerer’s The Store for Men.” While a bit stained and in need of dry cleaning, the coat at least no longer has the cigarette smell it took on from my time wearing it to the Continental; for those of you not from Buffalo, the Continental was the number-one punk, new wave and alternative night club for both live and DJ music at 212 Franklin Street. I loved wearing the coat, because it took on a real cool dark green/black sheen in the less-than-ideally lit Continental, and several people at times said it gave off a Mod look, surprising because if anything, I was more of a rocker or punk, although in reality really a nerd or geek.
     As I put on the coat, which still fits remarkably well (and I didn’t even have to inhale to make it fit), I remembered the first times I wore it in public, not for regular wear at the time but on stage in musicals at Lancaster Central High School and the Lancaster Summer Playhouse. Particularly in high school, the shows we performed were 1940s-1950s influenced (“On the Town,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Bye, Bye, Birdie”), and this was something that looked right in place and actually impressed some of the directors.
     I also remembered that my mother Sheila was the first person to recommend I wear my father’s jacket, as well as some suits, in my high school musicals; as just about every male high school student in the 1970s would do, I hemmed and hawed and thought it would look stupid, and had to sheepishly agree with my mother how good and in-period they looked. While my father sometimes had difficulty being overly expressively with my late brother Brian and I during our adolescence (and I assume with my sister Heather as well, although he could say he was leaving that to my mother), he later came up, smiled, and said that the suits and coat did look good on me, and that regardless of how they looked, my mother would have won the argument.
     If I can get a decent photograph of the coat, or me wearing it, I will post it here.