With the overwhelming retail workload of late, I've had little time for anything else. I arrive home from work exhausted, drained, often demoralized, and want little else but to divert myself via the contents of a novel or a video game. Art and writing have been creaking along at sub-glacial speeds. Email and twitter are ignored. Blogs go unread.
So I have little of real interest to share here, except a journaling of some of the more diverting occurrences of the past week.

A photograph of a mug, taken in Hessler St., Cleveland, with my phone. Several years old. I was trying to pick up the delicate traceries of the spider-webs, though the lighting on the mug itself ended up being the more fascinating aspect.
Posting it because I feel it's appropriate.

Last week I worked for seven days straight, in order to clear two consecutive weekend days in order to see my sister graduate from college. Evan and I drove down to Williamsburg, which was unusually cold, and spent time with my sister and parents.
The graduation itself was a tad disappointing. It was the winter ceremony, short and with little aplomb, which my sister was taking part in because of her plans to study abroad in Leiden, The Netherlands, next semester. We spent most of the time there tromping up and down the main street in the colonial sector of town, trying to maintain a quick enough pace to keep our limbs from freezing.
Williamsburg itself is always a fascinating place to visit, and we enjoyed the architecture and historical reenactments.
Being who I am, however, the thing that stands out as my favourite part of the trip was not related to any of these things.
Evan and I had been out to grab a late lunch on the day we arrived, as my parents had already eaten. On our way back, I spotted a few familiar black shapes gliding noiselessly through the air toward a copse behind our hotel. Following them, we discovered where the vultures of Williamsburg gather to sleep at night. Waning orange sunlight touched off of more than a hundred Turkey Vultures perched in clusters among the winter trees. The only sounds were the hushed whirring of wings, and the occasional turkey-like gobble as one bird vyed with another for prime boughs. A shallow rill trickled along the bottom of the ravine, an obvious attraction for the vultures. The experience made me wonder where the Annapolis vultures go to sleep at night.
Though we did find that at least one murder of crows, fifty birds or so, sleeps at Landover metro station on winter nights.

Then a few days ago, I was going on a walk before work. The morning was clear and cold, so I walked briskly. A sudden flash of striped tail feathers arrested my interest, and I stopped to focus on their location.
I approached the bush above which I'd noted the motion. A hawk popped out, probably startled by my proximity, and sat atop it staring back at me. It was an obvious juvenile (most juvenile hawks are nearly identical, with yellow legs and striped brown-and-white bodies), and I suspected it to be the progeny of the Sharp-shinned hawk I'd seen about the neighborhood last spring.
It regarded me warily for some time, then turned its gaze toward its feet. It began making a most uncharacteristic squeaking and chirruping, sounding much more like a small finch than a small hawk. Without warning it dove down into the bare bush; I could see it tunneling through the narrow spaces within. With a startled chirp, a tiny sparrow came rocketing out of the same shrub and fled, leaving the hawk disappointed.
Feeling guilty for losing the hawk its meal, I moved on. A few hundred feet down the road I noticed a tapping sound, and discovered a Downy woodpecker. It was testing small branches for hollows, which might house insect infestations. Rapping several times with its stubby beak, it would then pause briefly to consider the timbre of the sounds produced. Upon deciding that the twig sounded solid, it would move on: hopping rapidly about the tree in its progress.
It suddenly ceased its search, flitting to a thicker limb and hunkering down in an attempt to appear a portion of the tree itself. Moments later the juvenile hawk came soaring over, landing in a nearby oak. It perched precariously, surveying the area. Then with a dramatic flutter it dove straight into an overgrown juniper bush and disappeared.
This is apparently a burrowing hawk.

Currently, I am tucked under a blanket and in front of a beautiful fire. Work was  canceled today, and I doubt I'll be able to make it there tomorrow either.
More talk about the snow tomorrow, accompanied by visual aids.

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