25 May

When I get this trip to LA going on Sunday, one thing I will miss will be the walks with Wichita and Jastram. We have tried out some names for our group – The Greater Calhoun Marching Society, The Trammell Street Sashayers, The Tour de Calhoun, but no name has stuck. From Jeopardy we learned that the Nobel Peace Prize has three naked men with their hands on each other’s shoulders. We considered emulating that prize, but decided that Calhoun might not be quite ready for such: “Grab the women and children! Close the blinds! Here they come again!” So much for our efforts to promote world peace. If anyone has a name suggestion, please send it in as a comment.

Besides walking, the three of us also take an interest in the natural world. Jastram is the most versatile expert, being knowledgeable about trees (He’s a Registered Forester, with the certificate to prove it), birds and bird songs. His knowledge of bird songs is amazing. Wichita and I have learned the call of the cardinal (“Pretty, Pretty, Pretty”). The titmouse, or titmus, if you want to sound more refined, (“Peter, Peter, Peter” or “Here, Here, Here”) and the Carolina Wren (“Chirpity, Chirpity, Chirpity, Chirp.”) Of course, now and then we hear some unusual call and turn quizzically to Jastram. He strokes his chin and says, “Oh, that’s a Gray-Crested Tub Thumper.” Who are we to question?

My specialty is wildflowers. I look for flowers I know and point them out. I try to ignore those I don’t know. If pressed, I fall back on my Dad’s all-purpose answer, based on the color of the flower, – “That’s yellowtop.” “That one is whitetop.” “Oh, there’s some pinktop.” This identification system served my Dad well for years.

Wichita has been working diligently to become our butterfly expert. He can spot Monarches and Viceroys, Sulphurs and West Virginia Potatoes. Now and then he’ll slip a new one in, “There goes a Polka-Dotted Bounding Fritillary.” Jastram and I stand amazed.

All three of us have learned to spot Indian Marker Trees. These trees with near right angle bends in them, seem to have been made forty or fifty years ago by some Native American wit to point the viewer in whatever direction the tree is pointing. Our goal is to see a Polka-Dotted Bounding Fritillary lighting on a pinktop bloom as a Gray-Crested Tub Thumper sings a song about Cherokee treasure while sitting in an Indian Marker Tree.

Finally, Wichita, Jastram and I try to discuss matters with gravitas. One day we considered the appropriate action to take if a bear came after us. On another occasion, we tried to pinpoint the exact summit of Fort Mountain. We have discussed the bewildering, and bewildered, array of Republican candidates for President and the singular lunacy that seems to affect all of them. We have argued about the correct direction to walk and whether we can achieve Zen while walking. (Wichita can; I can’t; Jastram – Hunh?) We have discussed where, if we were cremated, we would want our ashes placed. I sort of settled on wherever would make the most work for my survivors. We learned that Wichita once ate an elephant ear (the plant) on a bet. He has not repeated that feat. We have also considered the unusual ability of a high school acquaintance of Jastram’s to arc his urine stream completely over a Volkswagon Beetle. This stuff is important. I hate to miss it for the next three weeks or so.


2 Responses to “Walking”

  1. Kathryn Sproull May 25, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    I’m laughing out loud…and I favor the Greater Calhoun Marching Society.

  2. Morris Jenkins May 26, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Bob and Lee: If you would just take Aunt Frances ( and her little dog), it would be like National Lampoon’s Family Vacation. Just don’t tie the dog to the bumper.

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