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Saturday, July 4, 2009


Today is Fourthajuly, lots of traffic in Sparta, grocery store packed yesterday, Friday. It was something unforgettable for Sparta. At the first door that opens to the atrium where the buggies are lined up, I had to stop and stand there awhile waiting for an opening in the bottleneck. I made it inside, pulled a cart from the horizontal stack and had to stand and wait again for the bottleneck to clear at the next doorway. Inside, there were 5 people ahead of me in the way to the produce section, stopped. Another bottleneck. The people going out with carts and the people coming in with carts at all three doors were stalled, negotiating ways around each other without bumping. We Americans don't bump each other or grocery carts. I think it has to do with cars. Two cars touch and it's an insurance claim, a ticket, estimates, getting it fixed. Almost a century of driving cars and we can't touch any more except by accident, the theme of the movie Crash. When we touch, it tends to be a crash.

I stand and watch people weave rolling baskets through narrow spaces looking for a way out of the tangle, which is as mental a tangle as it is physical. Advanced grocery cart rodeo. Friday is a bad day for traffic in Sparta all day long, but this one beat all I've ever seen. In the aisle where the cups of chopped fruit were shelved, I wanted to get some and a man was standing in front of them, hands on cart handle looking like he'd just finished whatever he was doing there, ready to move on. I stood and waited and he never moved. He kept on standing there and I kept on waiting, expecting thim to take the first step every second and it never happened. It started to seem a ridiculous amount of time to wait for somebody just standing there. I decided it was time to say, "Excuse me." It seemed awkward after standing there so long. As I was about to speak, he moved on.

Down the cereal and fruit drinks aisle was a buggy between an aisle display and the opposite shelf, no room to squeeze by without collision or the bad etiquette of moving somebody else's buggy, its operator at the other end of the aisle picking up something as far from the buggy as it could get and be in the same aisle. Another aisle I came up on three white-haired women with buggies, talking, blocking the aisle. They scurried to make an opening I could pass through. I thought of high school where before and after class three girls stood in the doorway and talked, so excited about having a chance to talk they never notice the crowd growing at either side of the door. I thought, passing the ladies, y'all did that in high school.

Approaching the registers, an ill-natured man was ahead of me with a mounded cart. I think 4 registers were open. He picked the first with 2 mounded up carts ahead of him. I thought I'd check the others. Next one had 2 carts piled high and one big one unloading. Next, one waiting and one unloading. At the last one was one getting checked out and I was next. The girl at the register was the one with 15 or so earrings all up and down each ear, and dark hair. She's a charming girl, young woman, able to talk as freely with older people as the other youngsters working there are with their peers. Larry, the gray-haired bag boy, did the bagging, talking about what a good day tomorrow (Fourthajuly) will be for fishing. Larry can get wide-eyed talking about fishing. He'll drive hours to a place to fish. When I got out of the parking lot I made a beeline for the house, the back way out of town.

The parade is going on in Sparta now at 2:25, even if it started late. It might have been fun to go and get some pictures and write you about it. But the paper will tell about it with color pictures, hardcopy. I'm not leaving Jr to go someplace else to watch a parade when I have an ongoing parade here on Hwy 18 of colorful, glitzy motorcycles and every kind of car there is, puickup, truck, liquorcycle (moped--cycle pron. sickle), even the occasional bicycle or somebody walking. Used to be, my favorite oxymoron was good grief. Now it's Cadillac pickup.

A family of 6 crows, mother and her 5 younguns, has taken to frequenting the front yard. I throw pieces of apple out for them. I'm noticing it is mostly the hen and her 5 chicks that come here for apple. They're getting used to me sitting on the porch. As long as I don't move, they're fine. All I need to move is my fingers anyway, so I can write you and watch them. One of the chicks is not well. It's head, neck and shoulder feathers are coffee brown. The chicks are almost the size of an adult crow, but they're less steady on their feet than the older crows. I'm learning to differentiate the crows. The one with the brown head is a bit wobbly on his feet and sometimes a wing drops down and he falls over on that side. This happens sometimes eating an apple core. He'll hold it down with one foot and peck at it. Sometimes he loses balance and lays over onto a side and continues pecking. He just now walked within ten feet of me. They see me throw the apple, so they know I'm the source of the bird treats.

The younger crows look to the older ones for the signal that it's time for flight. They're not old enough to know crow wariness yet. The crow with the brown head has been walking by where I sit between 10 and 20 feet from me. It found an apple core I tossed earlier. It has finished eating and stands with one wing hanging down. Now he's walking away. He tends to stay away from mother and sibs, likes to go about on his own, as they all tend to do. The bird doesn't look well. It may not live long enough to reporduce. He's sitting on a fence rail looking down over the meadow, listening to crows bark in the trees across the road.

Two blue herons flew across the front of the mountain the other side of the highway.

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