• Dale Bowman

Can-picker, netter, croaker, invader: Ramble with the Lady

The can-picker saw me coming this morning and ducked behind a car on his old bike. I don't know why, because I think picking cans is honorable enough. The can-picker never looks me in the eye, actively averting his eyes whenever I see him. But he sticks to his job. May is prime time for him with all the ball games at the field on the edge of town.

I feel like there should be some lyrics from Bob Dylan or Paul Simon about a can-picker. But I can't remember any.

When I was single, living on Chicago's far North Side, a buddy knew a can-picker went down the alley every morning, so my buddy would crush up his beer cans each night, put them in a Jewel bag and politely hang them on his fence for the picker.

I think that was righteous.

As Lady, our family's mutt, and I rambled across the side rail separating town from the wildness of the town pond, I spotted the sentries for the Canada geese. They went into blocking formation and eyed us until we made our way past them. I cannot believe how big some of the goslings have grown, and how quickly.

An old van was parked before the bridge over the neckdown between the two old clay pits. A guy in jean shorts and a vivid neck kerchief was using a casting net to collect bait he was putting in a yellow minnow bucket. I could not tell if he was catching some panfish for catfish or turtle bait or minnows.

And he was another guy who made me no acknowledgement of my presence. Some fishermen want the isolation of fishing even more than the fishing itself. All the same, I was beginning to think it was Mental Health Tuesday.

The first bullfrog I heard at the town pond (certainly not the first one of the spring, it's just that I have been gone seven of the last 12 mornings) croaked just off the corner of the bridge. I was glad to hear that. Our youngest son is done with school this week. So we will begin our quests for frogs around the town pond and other waters. Then three more frogs croaked on both pits.

The invasive bush honeysuckle is beautiful in a sick sort of way. But it has completely taken over the undergrowth around the town pond. It is shading out native plants such as May apples and gradually pushing out all the raspberry and blackberry bushes.

Something tells me the town will not do anything about attacking the invasive honeysuckle.

The honeysuckle is so thick that Lady and I could barely walk down the trail, formerly a side rail, above the south pit.

A morning for squirrels, dozens of them in town, but not a one at the town pond. So be it. There were enough to perplex Lady.

A block from home, by the corner near the decorative fruit trees, three squirrels scattered in three different directions, perplexing Lady's attack mode. Amused me anyway. Adding to the confusion, a blue jay loudly began squawking a block south.


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