Friday, April 22, 2005

I'll get back to the GOPranos in a moment...

...but I wanted to post about my week, since I've been offline most of it.

Tuesday morning I drove up to east Texas to visit my father and stepmother at their vacation place at Lake Sam Rayburn. We played golf (Robert Trent Jones-designed course) but the most relaxing part of the two days was simply being out of the rat race. I had brought along my laptop on the chance that Rayburn Country had moved into the 21st century, but no dice. Oh, I could've plugged in and dialed up, but as those of us who've been on the Web's autobahn for a few years know, that's the surfing equivalent of the circus clown riding a tricycle. Not only are you barely getting anywhere, you're not enjoying the ride much either. So I imposed a blackout for two days, and loved it.

But it was the wildlife I enjoyed the most.

I saw a murder of crows harrassing a squirrel. On the ground. They hopped and flapped after him as he ran away -- not as fast he could have, either -- which led me to believe this was an exercise without much intensity on either side. Some kind of game they were playing with each other, or a way to pass the time.

I saw black squirrels (jet black; black as a cat) bounding along the fairway and the side of the road. They flirted with the grey squirrels and fox squirrels with no obvious discrimination practiced by either party. As cats and dogs might do, or even people, mostly.

And a large pileated woodpecker -- that's the one that would remind you of Woody Woodpecker; red crown, black face, black body with white neck and stripes -- clutching sideways to a porch railing, hammering away. During the middle of the morning, with people in the house watching and with us walking by less than fifty feet away. Which struck me as either brazen or desperate. And this bird didn't look hungry, though I knew he was searching for a tasty bug in the wood. He was nearly three feet long from tip to top, and well aware of our presence.

On my return to Houston I stopped in at the Alabama-Coushatta reservation. They are doing quite well since their casino in neighboring Louisiana opened a few years ago. Lots of new buildings; a museum and entertainment hall for visitors, a multi-purpose center for tribe members, a spanking-new convenience store on the highway, and an obviously thriving tribal economy. I intend to return for the pow-wow in the fall, when the dancers perform.

And yesterday I spent the day in a legal research project, examining a racial discrimination lawsuit against a large corporation (remaining details of which I am restricted by confidentiality agreement to reveal) . Suffice it to say that it was most interesting.

So I'll have my nose back on the grindstone soon enough. Right now I'm going to Google up an image of a woodpecker. BRB...

Update (already!) : After my own nature post, it was nice to see this in the Chronic this morning. There's pictures of koalas and prairie chickens on the front page of the paper (at the moment) .

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