Please offer Mr. Murakami my sorrow regarding the loss of his dog. As a teen ager I had a brown mutt that slept on the floor beside my bed each night and waited for me every afternoon as I walked home from school. The little dog was always willing to accompany me on my hikes and always tolerated my interest in any odd item from nature. My dog was shot at about this time of year in 1963 by, we think, a mentally ill person who shot himself within that year. I remember being very hurt for a long time because of the loss of my dependable companion, and I therefore sympathize with our colleague. I hope also that he will retain enough sun to continue. We also have violets blooming now, the so-called common blue violets. I sometimes pick a flower or two to put in salads to give them more various color. Later we will have lance leaved violets.
Our weather has rather suddenly become uncomfortably warm. I cut our grass for the first time this season this afternoon, and I also saw the first snake of the season, a garter snake. Gartners are nonpoisonous, but they are nervous little snakes that will quickly bite you if you try to handle them. I usually shoo them away and try not to get close enough to be bitten. My next door neighbor is terrified by snakes, and he thinks I am a menace to civilization because I prefer to let the snakes live. We do have, thankfully only rarely, dangerously poisonous snakes called copperheads. Their bites are not always fatal, but they can be fatal, especially to children or individuals in poor health. I do not tolerate their presence any more than my neighbor does.
Tyler had his first haircut, and he seemed to take the loss of his curls quite well.
Loveliest of trees the cherry now Is hung with bloom along the bough And stands about the woodland ride Wearing white for Eastertide. Now of my threescore years* and ten Twenty will not come again, And take from seventy springs a score It only leaves me fifty more, And since to look at things in bloom Fifty springs are little room About the woodlands I will go To see the Cherry hung with snow.(*A score is an obsolete measure of twenty, so threescore years and ten is the traditional human lifespan of seventy years.)
One of the things that I do at work is to try to teach English and other things to young men in the state juvenile prison system. I am able to say, "You will like this poem or pretend to like it, or I will....(get tough with you)." I sometimes use the poem by Housman to drive home an appreciation of the brevity of our lives and the waste of choosing a life that leads one to incarceration.
A parhelion (sun dog) is a concentration of light on one or both sides of the Sun, usually on the outside edge of the twenty two degree halo, at the same distance from the horizon as the Sun. Perhaps I can write you a little essay regarding such atmospheric sights, with illustrations, which may be worth sharing with your readers.
We wish your colleague's cat a swift recovery. We do not have a cat, but we like cats, and Uta's mother has a very tolerant cat that is patient with Tyler. ........
I will soon try to catch Jupiter in the morning sky.
The City of Hopewell has undertaken to improve our environment by cutting down some trees in the alley behind our house. The City is also putting a concrete trough in the place of the small, admittedly very polluted little stream that has run behind our house. This improvement has already evicted many birds and squirrels. I have a feeling that the snakes will simply move to other areas. One could hope that they will all move in with the neighbors who have demanded such dubious improvements. The muskrats which have amused Tyler and me will soon be gone. In case you do not have such things in Japan I will mention that they are harmless rodents which live mainly underground along creeks and streams. They do not attack people or animals, and, because they live in wet areas and move usually by swimming, do not enter people's homes and damage property. Their main offence seems to be that certain sensitive people do not like the way they look. The so-called improvements will open the alley to movement by groups of teen-agers, and I surmise that the muskrats are less dangerous than the teen-agers. From my selfish point of view, the only advantage is that the loss of the trees will give me a relatively unobstructed eastern sky for the first time since we have lived here. I judge that the world of science could have done without my projected observations of Mercury in order for the animals to live. .......
This afternoon the US Post Office delivered to me a letter that I had very clearly and properly addressed to your English observer David Graham. Whoever did that is the one that needs the real help.