August 22nd, 2005

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clacks and whistles

This afternoon we went hiking in Lake Anna State Park, a heavily wooded set of hiking trails. I thought thankfully of the recent gift I received of a CD of backyard birdsong. It's not that I can hear the birdsongs and now identify them, quite. But I can hear the songs, and say "I've heard that before!", and resolve to listen to the CD again. Nowadays it's not so much the knowledge as knowing how to look it up, or so I excuse myself. We saw a huge blue fishing bird that I believe to be the largest kingfisher I have ever seen, but which may be something else altogether. We saw a demonstration of an antique smokehouse on an old plantation site in the woods, where we learned, in the middle of nowhere, how they make Virginia hams.

The weather is unseasonably cooler here than is usual for August--only 10 degrees, but the difference between 80s and 90s is crucial for outdoor activity. Tomorrow I will go to the public fishing access on Kentucky Springs Road to fish, using cheap Zebco 404 gear I got at a bait shop. The 404 is a kid's reel, lesser than the fabled 33, but I'll be a kid at heart anyway.

After a fine meal of chicken and broccoli, we sat on the boat dock behind our townhome, and watched the ducks swimming everywhere. The water was so clear you could see mussel shells on the bottom. We heard more birdsong and loud cicadas, and I wished I had my nature recording skills down pat.

I drove this evening to scope out directions for tomorrow's adventures, as the winding country roads here prove a puzzle. For a long way on US-522, I paralleled a freight train, whose percussive train track sound reminded me of Gurdon, Arkansas, at 2 in the morning, when I, as a very young boy, got in the wee hours to watch the passenger trains go by. I understood then that these were a passing thing, a passing time, and it seems as though I was right. I also thought I would see nuclear war with the Soviets engulf us all, and I now think I was wrong. But I loved and love trains, and the rattle/hum/jolt sound of the clacking cars on the never-ending tracks.
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Maryland Meet Up

Thursday evening my wife and I plan to be in Silver Springs, Maryland, at the restaurant called "Jackie's", on 8081 Georgia, a few blocks from the Silver Spring Metro station. We know we will be getting with an LJ friend or 2, and we invite any others in the area to come join us. We'll meet at 7 at the restaurant. Please drop me a line, gurdonark, if you can come, so that I can plan with the cafe reservations or what have you. For directions, please write to, who is our regional guru on such matters.

Hope to see some of y'all locals there.