I"m getting ready for a long road trip -- heading east along the old Santa Fe Trail. Eastward, a thousand miles across Dorothy's Kansas with the wind at my back. Yesterday it was blowing at about 40 mph so today's 25 mph feels like a reprieve but it is still gusting. There is a blizzard warning posted for areas north of where I'm travelling and it should be played out by the time I get out on the high plains. At least I hope so.
I'm heading "home" in a sense, to the Midwest. The big river valleys and the centerlands between the four compass points still carry a sense of place and personal history for me even though I cannot live there any more. I'm a full-fledged bird of the desert but I still need these occasional migratory excursions. My home place is now in the New Mexico desert in view of five mountain ranges and starry skies. ...But that doesn't mean that I don't miss my roots. I can only eat so much green or red chile pepper sauce before I need some kind of comfort food of the Midwest. I'm planning on hauling back a treasure trove of St. Louis food -- if I don't eat it all on the road back.
We can complain about the wind and the blowing dust or snow but there is no recourse. No court of appeals. There were twenty-four severe weather warnings posted for New Mexico yesterday for high winds, blowing dust and extreme fire danger. If a fire gets started in the dry grass it will cover fifty miles before anyone can even try to stop it.
I'm thinking about those hearty pioneers and muleskinners who struck out toward the horizon with the incredible wind blowing them raw. They had huge, unweildy cargo wagons laden with supplies and material for sale in Santa Fe. The deep wagon ruts are still there in many places in central Kansas. Santa Fe was a foreign country but it was closer to Missouri than it was to Mexico City so the trail wagons were tolerated at first and then welcomed. One of my wife's ancestors made the trip at least once. There is a large 100 foot sandstone rock part way across Kansas -- known as Pawnee Rock. It was one of many important trail landmarks and described as the "The greatest sight ever beheld by man". If you have been watching the hind-end of a team of mules or oxen for three-hundred miles, it was a welcome diversion.
I will have a better view -- no mules or oxen -- but the wind will give me a little push from behind. I think I probably shared the following poem once before. It gives an idea of the power of the wind on the land and people born to it.
A shadow of her former self…
Like a cat leaving a room
What dlo you do when home is far away
Music for leaving
Not sure why, but I was thinking of my mother-in-law today. We shared so many interests. I discovered even more after her death. Going through her things, she collected fans and vintage hankies, like I did.
We purchased our home with the idea of Jeanne living with us. The house had a lovely guest apartment at the end of the hall, full kitchen, walk-in closet, huge living/bedroom, private entrance, with a wee garden outside the door…though we gave her the entire yard. When we moved her in, we just assumed she’d be with us another five or ten years. But little more than a year later, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her surgeon told her she had about eighteen months to live. When I told my sister, she said, “Oh Sharon, she may last about two months.” She was right.
Jeanne and I used to go to concerts all the time. In fact, before she moved in with us, she would often call from California, tell my husband to take care of Daniel, she was going to fly me up so we could go to the Sacramento Music Circus…a series of Broadway musicals. We made at least two, and then dinner, and laughing, and storytelling, and laughing, and breakfast and laughing.
One night, when she was still alert, I went into her room (hospice turned it into a hospital room) with a small cassette player. I told her we couldn’t go to a concert so we would have a concert right here. I climbed in bed with her and played John Michael Talbot’s, “Come to the Quiet.” I held her like a mom holds a baby and began to realize that death at that point – was really a birth. She looked up at me, and we didn’t have to share words. We just knew. There was great peace.
Three days later she passed, without fanfare, quietly, like a cat leaving a room.
Dateline: Westminster, London, Friday 5th April 2019
With the emergency repair works to fix the serious roof leak in the Houses of Parliament proceeding, it would appear there's been a blip in the security of the place as you may have seen a tweet from our Glorious Leader that a pandemonium (apparently that's the correct collective term for a group of these blessed creatures) of parakeets has taken up residence within the House of Commons no less.
It's been quite difficult to gauge numbers of these feathered invaders but officials and MPs who have bravely ventured into the chamber believe that there are upwards of 40 of these birds careering wildly about the place making an unholy racket. It is thought the parakeets got in when one of the large windows in the building was left open for a while.
A number of people who have seen these parakeets have noted that these birds are decked out in a coloured plumage of red, white and blue with a design akin to the Union Flag and furthermore. these birds have been heard 'speaking' English using a weird mix of a cut glass accent laced with what sounds like Yorkshire slang - according to some reports.
These parakeets have also been observed to be well clued-up on Brexit and are given to squawking out slogans and expletives in connection with Brexit unfortunately using the most profane language of a richly textured kind - I would not wish to cause any offence by repeating here some of the obscenities that have been made but I'm sure one's imagination can fill in the gaps as it were.
News sources - in whom I have complete trust of course - surmise that it is conceivable that these parakeets were domestic pets of a UK government minister or well-known Tory MP and have escaped captivity.
Suspicions are now being aroused that these parakeets escaped from the home of a bespectacled public figure with impeccable finesse and mode of speech to match his élite Eton education who is always smartly dressed in Savile Row suits albeit in the fashion of half a century ago as some of the birds have been heard to squawk the following which I am happy to quote here as being less offensive,
"Ee upp, Jacob lad, you've been stitched up by the mardy Maybot!" and "Ee upp, Jacob there's nowt in this Brexit blethering" and "It's a stitch up, ee upp it's a stitch up!" and even, "Ee upp, Maybot is a wazzock, Maybot is a wazzock, lad".
And also, "Aye, Reez-Mugg forever, aye Reez-Mugg for PM ee by gum" - although the parakeets seem to have something of a pronunciation hiccup with names but the real puzzler is where the parakeets' fluency in Yorkshire dialect has sprung from.
If indeed these birds have escaped from their place of residence supposedly from this well-known conservative Conservative as surmised above, it is now a challenge for the parliamentary authorities as to how this problem will be resolved and the parakeets returned to their rightful owner.
If I receive any further reports on these pesky caterwauling parakeets I will be in touch as I thought you should be kept reliably informed of developments.