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December 16th, 2005

holiday robins

Yesterday I went for a walk at lunch at the Rowlett Nature Preserve. Prior to my walk, I shopped in a convenience store, Quik Trip,to buy a turkey sandwich, baked chips, and a huge, lifesize pickle. This Quik Trip had one of those food sections that drew lots of manual laborers. I find that manual laborers, like truck drivers, often have the knack for finding the three dollar Quik Trip sandwich that tastes better than the twenty dollar meal. The giant pickle reminded me of going to the movies in my childhood, when a modest fee bought one a similarly huge pickle, presented in peeled-banana-fashion, surrounded by a napkin. I sat in my car at the nature preserve, enjoying this incredibly satisfying meal. I thought to myself how, when I was in college and law school, and always ate on somewhat limited funds, I ate as well or better as I do now, when I can afford restaurants that I then considered too expensive. So many times the various gradations in the middle class do not really mean the difference between luxury and penury, but instead merely the difference between one kind of good living and another, more expensive but no more impressive kind of good living. I put on my Red Wing Shoes, new hiking shoes I got from the local little "Made in the USA" store down the street from my work.

As I rolled along the little riparian nature trail, I came upon an armadillo, snuffling in the leaves. It was about five or six feet from me. Its nose was entirely beneath dead leaves, and it hoovered along, in search of whatever food it is that armadillos seek under leaves.

I did not come too close, as a lack of caution in an animal can in very rare instances signal rabies. But eventually, the armadillo noted my presence, and took off running. Then I came to a part of the trail in which I was surrounded on all sides by flitting, floating, and hopping robins. I like this part of December on this trail, when I can see so many robins so near me all at once that the effect is rather like a French film of a generation ago, except that in the film the robins would symbolize the triumph of the worker or the bliss in the quest for infinity, while in Rowlett Nature Preserve, in Garland, Texas, they merely symbolize the joy of crisp cool days and year-round birds. As I finished the trail, I saw two more armadillo, snufflings leaves, oblivious to people.

This is becoming part of the holiday season for me--a crisp, 50-degree day, the stark look of bare trees on a nature trail, and the
gorgeous chaos of surrounding robins, spiced with a cardinal and a finch or so, as I walk for half an hour, nearly alone in the park, on a December day.