What's going on here?
| The full moon was high in the western sky at 7:15 the other morning, with clouds racing around it. What was it doing out at that time? Had I missed a solar eclipse? It was followed by a rainbow thirty minutes later, and this wasn't some namby-pamby hint of color in the sky, but a rainbow which would do Dorothy proud. It draped itself across the northwest sky, disappearing below the tree line somewhere near Albany.
That night, out in the cold, waiting for the dog to finish a roll in the grass, I caught sight of a shooting star. It flashed across the sky and disappeared just as sudden as it appeared. An omen, a portent? Of What?
Could it be of true love for the dog? At 10 o'clock that evening, a bark from outside the window startled me as I sat at my computer trying to make sense of this. "Who let the dog out?” I muttered, but of course, she was sleeping next to me on the floor. I went to the front door and turned on the light and there on the stoop was a large white Labrador, the same Lab who had come visiting that morning and who lives in the post-modern house two doors away. Do realize that in this territory, two doors are equal to a quarter of a mile.
Copper, as I heard him called, is a young dog, and obviously is smitten with the older female who lives here. Farfel does not exactly return his endearments, if her growls, barks and frontal assaults are any gauge of her interest. I let her out and she ran the dog off to the edge of our property, but it kept coming back. Finally I grabbed its flea collar and nudged it home, where its owner told me he had been out looking for it for the past thirty minutes.
There were no shooting stars to signal me as I walked back up the hill to my house, but Orion was rising in the east, its stars paling in the light of the practically full moon. I thought of the Thugee chief in "Gunga Din", on the parapet of his temple, telling his vision to Grant, Fairbanks and McLaglen: "Last night a jackal screamed on the left, another answered on the right.” I was hoping the coyotes would howl to make the evening complete. I know they're here, I’ve heard them so many times, and occasionally one turns up as road kill, but tonight they decide to keep their silence. Maybe, like me, they were trying to figure out what was going on.
The robot on the radio gave me some clue. I have one of those sets with four or five bands on it and two knobs, a small one that turns it on or off, and a large one to select the frequency and move the station selector. Tuning it produces whistles, groans, static and if you are lucky, some music recorded in Buenos Aires sixty years ago. One station on one obscure band is a National Weather Service outlet. Up until a couple of years ago, it would play recordings of humans reading local weather forecasts and warnings, updating these on the hour. Now it uses some sort of voice synthesizer to read these forecasts. Mr.Synth sometimes reads the punctuation too, so that we are treated to a forecast of "Rain Comma Heavy At Times Comma Ending Tonight Period".
This particular night it told of snow to begin the next night late. So was this the meaning of all the weird happenings? I did not want to find out, so that next night I retreated to Connecticut to 'hobnob with my fellow wizards' for two days, where we were pelted with some snow, ice and rain.
In the Nutmeg State, the weathermen on the television were more like my old friends from Philadelphia, people have only two reasons to exist. Either they hype the ratings by screaming 'SNOW, SNOW', and scare the hell out of you, or they have great hair. After watching a bit, I realized Hartford’s weathermen had no clue as to what was going on either.
Returning home, I found the omens of major storm were wrong. Little snow had fallen; the agenda had changed. Yesterday I watched the skies for new signs, but none appeared and I wrote all of this off as the worries of a 'nervous Nelly,’ or as we used to say, 'the nattering nabobs of negativism’~~.bet you thought you would never hear that phrase again~~and I went to sleep.
This morning at six o'clock my hyperventilating dog breathing near my ear awoke me. What was going on? In the bathroom I heard heavy rain on the roof, and a minute later, the rumble of thunder. Though dark, I looked out the bay window in the direction of the white birch tree I worship and asked, "Thunder in mid-December? What’s going on?"
The birch tree, this double-trunk monster which towers over our house, started to do a tap dance routine while saying "Wing it man. Strange Things Are Happening." It looks like I will spend the rest of the day trying to figure out who writes its material.
Valatie December 17, 2000