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Creek Running North

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September 11, 2003

Running in place

Item one: Two weeks ago, Becky and Zeke and I were walking along the shore of San Francisco Bay, enjoying the rather tempestuous waves and high tide. I noticed a sailboat veering perilously close to shore. "I think we're about to see an accident," I said. I was right. It was about a 25-foot single mast boat, fiberglass hull, and just as we got to the point where its course intersected the shore, it hit. And hit. And hit. The waves pulled it back from the riprap and slammed it back ashore, over and over. Windsurfers scattered, anxious not to lose limbs between hull and rock.

On board were two people. One, a woman about my age, sat crosslegged in the stern with an oddly detached, serene smile. The other, a man in probably his mid-seventies, stood at the bow, white hands clenched around jib and rail, transfixed and staring at the rocks below. His sails were tangled, his motor flooded, and he'd forgotten to anchor safely offshore. None of that mattered: he answered our questions tersely (cell phone-toting volunteers sending a bevy of calls to the Coast Guard) and stared at the rocks.

I think this is why self-destructive people are often so very self-involved: it is fascinating to behold the thing you feel will do you in.

A windsurfer did manage to hop aboard and start the little craft's engine, which sputtered them a few dozen yards offshore and quit again. The wind picked them up - the jib was tangled in unfurled position - and off they went, involuntarily, toward the Chevron refinery in Richmond. Presumably, the windsurfer remembered the anchor.

Item two: The writing spider has become immense, probably three inches long, and its web now spans a good foot and a half between the hyssop and horsetail. Last night I spied an opportunistic and probably foolish orb weaver the size of a poppy seed, which had spun its own web within the argiope's, using the thicker silk as support as the argiope used horsetail stems and birdbath. This morning the smaller spider was gone, and the argiope had a neatly-wrapped silk ball of prey at its mandibles.

I think that captured prey was too large to be the orbweaver.

Item three: Last weekend, I walked with my nephew through his backyard. He is sixteen months old, and so our course was erratic and determined by attention span. He took a stick, wedged it into the sand of the path, and accidentally flicked a few grains at my face. In a playful mood, I made a giant, gasping cough sound complete with extended tongue, which - being a year old and male - he loved. We repeated the process until he got bored, which took about forty minutes.

Six hours later we sat in the living room. I suddenly noticed he was grinning at me, furiously scratching the carpet with his little fingernails.

Item four: We've a ten by twenty shed in our backyard that I'm turning into an office. This involves pulling off plywood siding to expose old-growth redwood siding, taking a wall out to turn two small rooms into one, digging trenches for electricity, and similar tasks. My brother in law and I spent a day pulling down huge wads of mouldering sheetrock, choking on gypsum and roofing dirt. Beneath one wall was an old paper wasp nest. I have no idea of its vintage, but I've not seen paper wasps since we moved in. I plan to leave it where it is, covered with fiberglass and protective electromagnetic fields from the Romex cable I'll install for lighting.

I think that's everything.

Posted by Chris Clarke at September 11, 2003 02:07 PM TrackBack URL for this entry:
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