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He'll always be the perfect top to any Christmas Tree...or any other tree for that matter.

Woodpecker looking up at Palemale on the Christmas Tree (never mind what he's saying about him).


Young red-tail over the Maintenance Meadow.


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The Best Gift of All

Palemale went to sleep alone in a new Pine tree tonight. My eyes were alert for that customary fly over from Lola as they have seen so many hundreds of times before. I used to imagine what special gifts Lola could give to him for Christmas and my mind conjured up so many things--maybe something simple but very thoughtful or something even philosophical. I'm forever trying to imagine something crafty that she could give to him, like the Wind in a box.

Over the years I may have forgotten or perhaps taken for granted that the gift he'd want the most was Lola herself.
As for what I could give him, I had looked into seeing what it would take to fix his nest and though I may not have been able to pull it off at least it was still possible. I thought also that a gift he could really use was to shut up the wicked mouths which say so many unworthy things about him--again with some effort I may have even been able to pull that off. But tonight I realize that sometimes the best gifts may not be getting new ones but just being able to hold on to the old ones that you already have.



All images above photographed in Central Park on Friday December 24, 2010.






What wicked force there must be out there in that big mysterious Universe above me where I gazed and grit my teeth as Jupiter began to slowly enlarge in the darkening sky. Such a force that would trap me in the world of these humble animals whose struggle for survival seems so hopeless at times. Instead, had I not been the immature and coward boyfriend which I was accused of being almost twenty years ago, I could have been long ago married and on a Christmas Eve night like this be merrily shopping at the Walmart in Pennsylvania buying last minute stocking-stuffers, and a replacement flasher unit for the Santa Claus figure which perched on the shingle roof of my In-laws house. I could have plugged that unit in and when the reindeer started flashing once again I could have received a round of applause from all my wife's relatives and even all the neighbors up and down Mulberry Lane.

What a feeling that could have been--me up on that ladder with all the snow coming down and my wife at the foot of the ladder all teary-eyed that I did something so worthwhile for her family, while her older sister's husband didn't even show up for the traditional Christmas Eve at her parents house--had to have his way and gone off to that Harley convention, and shamefully missed out on being with the family as everyone sat around the big screen TV to watch the Home Shopping Network's Special something or the other.

I gave all that up so I could stand alone under a pine tree in the cold, dark Central Park and worry myself sick that I haven't seen some dime-a-dozen female hawk in almost two weeks.

Old Chuck (my could-have-been father-in-law) and me would presently be bonding by a crackling fire, him brushing out the dog hair from his fez and telling me that it looks good for me being accepted at his Lodge. And as I stuff another log into the fire we'll sip eggnog and bash Castro, rejoice over Saddam's fate, snarl at Osama, and hiss at Obama, while the girls gossiping in the kitchen would burn yet another batch of pop-overs.

If I was a wiser man I'd run over to the Hertz up the street and in less that three hours I could be pulling into that stone driveway in Harrisburg--they're staunch Lutherans, they'll welcome back the Prodigal Son-In-Law.

I could stop off at Walmart and even if they're closed early for Christmas Eve, there'll always be a 24-hour Quick-Fil where I could pick up a big battery operated Christmas wreath that plays 'I'll Be Home For Christmas' to make a truly moving entrance. I guarantee you that in no time I'll be chomping down some fresh baked ham and turkey with some Betty Crocker bread things and all the years of this Vegetarian nonsense will be a thing of the past along with all the foolishness of mindlessly following some wild bird in Central Park like an idiot all my life.

But maybe Hertz will be closed early tonight, so I guess Pennsylvania will just have to wait.




December 24, 2010 (S) newitem211789883