I was recently tagged by RevEm (hey, thanks for the golden syrup recipes...still don't think I can handle the sandwiches, though) for the 10 Simple Pleasures Meme. So...here goes, in no particular order:
1. My Audubon bird clock. This was actually a birthday present for my mother -- she had hinted broadly at various times that she might like one -- that, sadly, she never had the chance to hear. It has a built-in light sensor, and at the top of the hour during daylight hours it plays the song of various North American birds. I have it in the laundry room, but it's loud enough to carry through the rest of the house. It's nice, even though it sometimes bemuses the dog, and once scared the bejeebers out of me one early morning when I turned on the light in the laundry room to let him outside and was suddenly serenaded by what sounded like a goldfinch on steroids.
2. My backyard birds. They are far more interesting than television. Right now I have a soap opera going on with our resident cardinals, Mister and Missus, who have built a nest in a trumpet vine growing against my garage; the nest is in a cozy spot under the eaves. Mister and Missus, or their parents or grandparents, have had some difficult breeding years -- one summer they tried a nest in the yew next to my house, and some carnivorous critter got the nestlings, and then one year a storm knocked down their trumpet-vine nest...but last year they actually fledged offspring. So I'm rooting for them, as Missus hunkers down on her eggs. This is also the time of year when we get passing migrations of warblers and other birds that don't hang around here the rest of the year. One spring I had two scarlet tanagers hopping around in the white pines on the north side of our house -- these are not necessarily endangered birds, but they're seldom seen, and I'd never seen two of them at the same time. One Saturday morning there were so many interesting little warblers in the trees that I couldn't flip through my bird book fast enough to ID them all. And tonight when I came home, there was a hermit thrush on the front lawn. They're nondescript little brown birds, a bit like a small robin without the red breast.
4. My dog. Who is simple; but not as dumb as people think. I mean, whenever I read "What Is Your Dog's IQ?" articles Maltese tend to be ranked down somewhere between goldfish and house paint, but my dog can be incredibly smart about certain things. For instance, sometimes when I let him back inside after one of his evening constitutionals, I'll forget to turn off the outside light. I'll go back to doing whatever I was doing before the interruption, and suddenly the dog is doing a frantic little dance in front of me. "What do you want?" I ask. "Do you have to go poop? Do you have to go out? Is little Timmy in the well? What? What?" He speeds down the hallway, into the laundry room; stops abruptly at the door; looks up, and makes sure that I am also looking up, through the window, where the outside light is shining. "Oh...I left the light on. Thanks, man." I turn off the light. The dog is happy. This has happened about a half-dozen times now, so I know he knows what he's doing.
5. Chocolate. Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate oozing over chocolate ice cream.
6. The smell of northern Michigan in August. Which would be a mix of warm pine needle and what we call sage (but really isn't). It's like a lovely incense without the smoke. If I could, I'd bottle the stuff and wear it.
7. Our local petting farm. I pass it on the way to work. Remember those Time-Life kids' nature books that always featured extremely busy illustrations of ecosystems with every imaginable animal jammed into the illustration? That's what the south pasture of this place reminds me of this spring. It's filled with Texas longhorns and shaggy, yaklike Scottish Highland cattle and Holsteins; horses in sizes ranging from miniature to huge Belgians; tiny Eeyore-like donkeys and their larger cousins; llamas; sometimes there are sheep of various sorts in the mix. And this time of year there are cute little calves and foals running around. Yesterday a big mama cow was licking off a just-born, still-wet calf; each vigorous slurp almost sent the baby sprawling, but it somehow managed to stay upright, with this incredible look of surprise on its face. Imagine having absolutely no context for anything you're seeing or feeling or hearing. Wow. (Human babies, in contrast, all seem to be born angry; maybe with good reason.)
8. Walking around my neighborhood. As you may have detected, I enjoy nature. And I'm incredibly nosy.
9. Sleep. My parents were always amazed at my love of sleep, even as a tiny kid. I never fought to stay up; in fact, I'd go to bed by myself, without prompting. 40-some years later and that's still true.
10. Coffee of various and assorted kinds.
This was fun; especially since I've been in a kind of huff for the past 48 hours. (Groucho Marx: "You can leave in a taxi. Or you can leave in a huff.") Thanks, RevEm! And anyone readng this: Consider yourself tagged.