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Reflections on a Cold Day

written by the Website Author on September 2nd, 2020.

On this cold, rainy day, I thought I'd take this entry in a different direction from my usually impersonal and academic tone.


Today in the Eastern US, temperatures dropped a little, a little more than they had before, giving us our first crisp scent of a coming autumn. For reasons beyond my conscious intuition, cold, dark gray, overcast weather like this always gets me thinking about the past, my future, and the significance of what I'm doing now. Speaking of reflective weather, another type of day that does this to me is the kind of quiet, chilly, sunny climate you get, too, when nearing autumn. The symphonies and chatter of the chirping sparrows, house finches, robins, wrens, cardinals, and otherwise deserts the soundscape—and you're left with a gentle whisper of the bright green leaves and vegetation left over from a fruitful summertime in the chilly breeze. The hot, humid sun left for a new dry, sharp—and quiet—climate. Not even the crickets and insects are making any noise today.

At a usual 8:00 AM during one of those clear type days, I hear nothing outside. Only distant cars and trucks . . . and that irritating construction cacophony going on across the street. The day that lot emptied of its old building, it was a little pen shop, some company moved in and started tearing it all down. Let's hope it's not another chain store; we've got too many of those fowling our area. Though I have no knowledge of proper construction or how long one is supposed to take, this thing's been happening since April. Maybe even March. They only now have a little wooden hair of a building's frame built on the lot. The rest of it is still just empty dirt—they even cut down some of the flowering trees surrounding it to make room for whatever they're building. God knows when they'll ever finish. At this rate, I'm betting on 2022, what about you?

Yet I still heard no birds. Back in June, especially May, your entire day would, non-stop, have those birds' melodies and songs. Meanwhile, your backyard teams with sparrows, each one getting its share of the feeder, some puffing up their feathers and fighting another off, some hopping around like cotton balls, others sipping from the water you've left for them. One day, during one of their "meetings," I counted 23 sparrows total. But now nothing. Yesterday, a clearer day than today, I only heard the constant whir of some crickets. Today, even worse in some ways, I hear nothing but drizzling rain.

This photo sums up well what I used to see each day.

But during every day of these faintly autumn-flavored weeks, I always hear the breezy whisper of the rustling leaves and grass. I don't think sparrows migrate, right? Where could they have gone? I do rarely see a lonesome, single sparrow eating from the feeder outside. He says nothing and lingers for long, sometimes up to two hours. I think he knows my area well. I hear his feet tapping on the aged wooden fence and him chewing seeds. Around him knows no cardinals, no blue jays, no wrens, not even crows. But one bird, until two days ago, was present. A red kestrel, I think, started to fly around this area screeching and crying out its calls. I sometimes wonder whether this kestrel broke up the sparrows' and other birds' roosting, forcing the majority of them to move farther away: yet I still don't think a single predator could move all of them away. Maybe it's the imminent cold weather. Do you think they know?

What I love about those quiet and cold sunny days, though, is the sky. Not one cloud in sight, sometimes not even a single wispy cirrus. The sky, as I used to ponder when I was little with much time to spare, turns a light blue closer to the horizon and a dark rich blue higher in the sky. I don't know, frankly, why I love the sky during these days. I'm thinking it reminds me of when I was little, before I had to attend school, before the complexities of the "real world," sitting outside in the mild warmth of 70 to 75 degrees farenheit pondering the big empty blue sky. In those young days, with my one older sibling at school, I simply sat around at home all day. Tinkering with our single eMachines tower computer and messing with Windows XP; watching Tom and Jerry or Looney Tunes on VHS; watching the clock tick; playing with pillows; and sometimes going outside to ride my little bicycle in the bright, simple sunshine.

But that description sits in an awkward contrast to the weather right now. I don't see blue skies and simple sunshine—it's raining outside, the kind of long, lingering drizzle that lasts the whole day. And you know something I've noticed? During the warmest months, the weather seems to become more volatile. You can have a thunderstorm, a drizzle, and hot sunshine in a single day in July. But in November, you either have a sunny day, a cloudy day, or a rainy day. Usually never mixed. The clouds, too, to my perception, seem much "flatter" and drawn-out during such cold months.

As I type this sentence, that lonely sparrow I mentioned earlier has arrived again. I recognize him from the ruffled feathers on his back. He's eating from the feeder while making no noise whatsoever. Maybe, I think, they remain quiet while alone to prevent potential predators from finding them. Well, it sure keeps me from finding them.

You've probably noticed that my paragraphs are becoming shorter and shorter. That's because I've frankly run out of ideas. What was the point of this entry, then? To make Elaboraet a more personal, fun thing I can work on, and not a chore I'm compelling myself to finish. This entry, who knows, may get lost in the many other entries to come. I sure had fun extracting the tiling pattern backgrounds from my system files and applying them to this page. I didn't know they'd fit in so well. What happened to fun little touches like these that computer systems used to have? Mainstream proprietary OSes have become corporate and stale!