Sunday, November 01, 2009

All Hallows

When November 1 arrives, despite all the official season-ending dates, it really feels like the beginning of winter. The clocks turn back, the trees are half-stripped, and the birds are extra-voracious at the feeders. They are the bright spot in my winters. I enjoy feeding them and spying on them out the back windows. I highly recommend Cornell Ornithology Labs' Project Feederwatch if you like to watch your feeders anyway. You can count your visitors and send the data in to have your own little part in a science project.

The juncos haven't arrived yet, but the goldfinches and chickadees have been flocking to my feeders. I live in a suburban area with very little yard, but it really doesn't take much. The only problem is...squirrels. Darn their rascally hides! I'm convinced they're studying higher mathematics in the off-season, trying to figure out the best trajectory to gain access to my feeders. Sometimes when I see them staring fixedly at the tube feeder, I imagine little thought balloons filled with equations, charts, and diagrams.

Book Report
I read Michael Chabon's Mysteries of Pittsburgh. I liked it; it made me consider what I was doing at age 24. It wasn't publishing a critically-acclaimed first novel. It came out about the time I was finishing my undergrad degree and getting seriously sidetracked. He has the amazing work ethic of great writers. Being that I read Donna Tartt's The Secret History several months ago, and it, of course, was published after Mysteries, it made me wonder what, if any influence, he might have had on that novel. They both feature a quirky, charismatic rogue's gallery of highly educated twenty-somethings, some pretending to be what they're not; sexual experimentation, if not transgression; buried secrets. Chabon is definitely more playful and Tartt darker, overall. It doesn't really mean much, except that one made me think of the other.

I believe I'm going to start a veritable mountain of a book -- Roy Jenkins' monumental biography of Winston Churchill. It looks fantastic, of intimidating learning and length. Perhaps, I'll attack it in parts, and read some novels in between.