Woods queer: thoughts in a thunderstorm

a coyote in motion tends to remain in motion. a coyote at rest may or may not stay at rest.

In the beginning there were no coyotes in Pennsylvania, merely wolves. And behold, the wolves as top dogs had no sense of humor, so were easily trapped and shot out. We made that dog-shaped hole in the land. Coyote saw that hole and filled it, but not before reinventing coyoteself via repeated romantic encounters with Canadian timber wolves and thus became this uniquely Eastern Coyote phenotype which is larger more social and culturally a lot cagier around humans than their western counterparts, which makes sense—the west is way less overrun with people by and large

also, and this is of equal importance, over my lifetime a domestic dog-sized hole has emerged as our culture has changed around dog-rearing norms. when i was a kid it was exceedingly common for country people (including us) to have dogs just sort of run loose much of the time. though if they chased deer they ran a high risk of getting shot by an outraged hunter. coyotes are just way better at not getting shot. and they don’t chase deer they know they can’t catch

i mean i love dogs but let’s admit it, even the hardiest of mongrels bear the scars of centuries if not millennia of inbreeding. they’re loyal faithful and wet nosed but they’re not very bright

you know how to tell a coyote track from a dog track? the coyote track will be arrow-straight for long stretches. they’re out in the woods, or whatever, for a reason, they’re not tourists. i assume any wild dog would eventually develop similar habits were it able to survive, but few can on their own

packs or more likely family groups of feral domestic dogs were still a fairly common thing in the 1970s when i was a kid, but didn’t last long into the 80s, not around here. a century earlier feral dogs were common in the cities but now coyotes fill that niche too. i read all about it on the internet somewhere but right now i’m more committed to finishing this sentence than to doing a simple web search. and that’s the level to which blogging has sunk these days. deplorable. this idiot can’t even be arsed to deploy capital letters

turning off spellcheck on your phone is possible by the way. why follow the Man when you can be a free spirit, a leaf on the wind, an idiot with an umbrella in a thunderstorm

Wish it would hurry up and rain though. I’d look like less of a dumbass walking under this umbrella.

What? It keeps the mosquitoes off.

Question from @dylan20 (Dylan Tweney) on Twitter: does that actually work for mosquitoes? Reply from @morningporch (Dave Bonta): not all species, sadly. not the fabled Aedes vexans. but many of the meeker sort. and definitely deer flies and gnats. those Victorian ladies with their parasols were on to something

maybe blogging from here on out will be zuihitsu aka my Twitter feed meets Woodrat photohaiku minus some of the photos.

or maybe it’ll just be random BS I type into my phone not unlike the foregoing

i am still thinking about my eight-minute close-hand observation of a black-and-white warbler on my front porch this morning. she just completely ignored me, even after i started filming, so intent was she on gathering soft and silky oddments to line her nest, which is almost certainly not in the top of the tree where i saw her fly afterwards but in some hidden spot on the ground at the base of a tree or rock or under a bush. such un-warbler-like warblers. like friendlier, better looking nuthatches. (sorry nuthatches but you do look like the offspring of an unholy union between undertakers and bats)

here she is hoovering up some stuff beside my primitive end table with a copy of my latest poetry read, by the wonderful if occasionally terrifying Cynthia Cruz

shit this thunderstorm is going to hit, I’d better start walking back

it wouldn’t do to get my phone Max all wet. my precioussss

back before the worst of it—which now becomes my evening’s entertainment. the people who came up with the idea of a front porch understood what makes life worth living!

those people being enslaved West Africans in the Caribbean. same brilliant people who gave us the banjo. that’s two African things that everyone thinks of as purely Appalachian or Southern. well nothing is purely anything of course, but racist folklorists did a bang-up job of excluding indigenous and African contributions to Appalachian culture in their zeal to portray it as a largely Anglo-Celtic backwater. i realize i’m at the northern end of Appalachia (though only half-way up the Appalachian mountains) but there were a hell of a lot of grandkids of Eastern European and Italian immigrants in my high school class. just like anywhere else in the US. to say nothing of all the Germans who came into the area about the same time as the Irish, just higher on the social scale. and there used to be a tiny AME church in Tyrone that was close to 100 years old. a larger Black population now than in decades but they’ve always been part of the mix here. and John Henry was the most Appalachian dude ever, so, ya know…

the earlier Ulster Scots did have a preference for the mountains but i’m not sure whether that’s because they felt a unique bond with the landscape as is sometimes alleged or just because they didn’t have much of anything and had to settle for land no one else wanted. then because they were on poor marginal soils tended to specialize in the one thing that could turn a profit: growing corn and making whiskey.

when i was a kid we used to find so many century-old whiskey bottles lying out in the woods where people tossed them when they were empty. probably loggers and colliers, men and boys who lived in the woods: wood hicks. i suppose i’m a hick in that tradition though without the whiskey or quite as much hard physical labor or tree butchery. so not at all really.

but like the word redneck, it’s weird that hick became an insult. and there are so many others for county people: hayseed. bumpkin. peasant (said in a certain way). hillbilly. local yokel. native. savage. wild man. Hermit is one of the few jokey epithets that’s not an insult. but then it’s not exclusively rural, is it? you can be a hermit anywhere and an increasing number are. together in our aloneness, alone in our togetherness, sounding irritatingly like a new-Age Sufi

when i was a kid, my parents used to joke about the possibility of going woods queer—like year-round cabin fever, basically. it would be absurd and probably offensive for me to claim that as my gender identity. but i can see having it as my epitaph, if anyone bothers to make me a tombstone. it’s pithy.

Dave Bonta
woods queer

I mean it’s so much better than tree hugger, which has been taken over by neoliberal techno greens (a term i just made up but which is absolutely a real category)

when you live on a mountaintop, you quickly learn to unplug all modems, computers and other sensitive electronics during a thunderstorm, imagine if we had a so-called smart home. our dumb asses would be running around all the time unplugging and fussing over things. slaves to the machines we made to serve us. weighed down worse than ever by Blake’s mind-forg’d manacles.

(just because “London” is in every secondary school curriculum in the English-speaking world doesn’t mean it isn’t still a very deep, very heavy, and may i also suggest very metal poem)

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