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October 24, 2010


Welcome back! Here’s the second offering from The Uncommon Citizen. The first is a short piece I wrote some years ago after taking an autumn walk along Alki Beach (in Seattle, for you out-of-state readers). The second is (I hope!) some humor. Let me hear from you. 

Well, we’re having the most unbelievably gorgeous Fall I can remember in all the years I’ve been here.  Temperatures are in the 60s day after day with bright sun, clear skies . . . it’s wonderful. (Bless you, El Nino!) The leaves are still getting into their Fall outfits but now they’re contrasted against all this clear bright blue weather instead of the usual: November Gray alternating with Bright November Gray or, more often, Dull November Gray. The wind is herding the water shoreward, causing great rolling WHUMPS! of waves to resound off the concave sea wall.

On my right, a grassy patch. As I came closer I noticed the birds, great numbers of them, seagulls, crows and pigeons intermingled, more than I’d ever seen at one time. Many were on the ground, on the grassy patch, but large numbers also wheeled deliberately overhead. I was buzzed by two seagulls as I began to walk by. They glided within inches of my head (shades of “The Birds”!), close enough to read their eyes, if one could but read seagull.

As I got to the far end of the grassy patch I heard a ruckus and turned to see scores of birds squabbling over something on the grass. I looked closely but couldn’t see what was provoking the disturbance. The circling birds began descending to investigate whatever might be at the center of the squabble, but too late:  the birds on the ground were already flying off in great slow-whirling circles. The scene was repeated a short time later and then again after that. And still I could detect no cause for the birds’ excitement. The noise was astonishing.

Some people at a picnic table tried to laugh off the birds, but they were clearly non-plused. What to do? Leave? Try to drive them off? Feed them? They tried feeding the birds, which only added to the chaos. They made a few faint-hearted attempts to disperse them, then they left. The birds had driven them off! Shortly after that, the birds left. Strange.

It was a singular experience, marked by intense imagery. Strong contrasts between the heavy yellow sunlight coming down in front of me and the rummage sale assortment of greens in the grassy patch. Bird wings, beating into the sun, took on an incandescence, became highlighted shadows, numberless birds rising and falling on the wind, sun splashing through their wings, backlighting them like an Indian shadow-puppet theater. It was a beautiful, but strangely peculiar, moment in time, one that seemed to suspend briefly the rules of nature.


Putting his best foot forward, Sergeant Trite  of the Cliche Squad resolutely marched out to meet his destiny. “Time and tide await no man,” he said to no one in particular, “I must strike while the iron is hot! Fortunately, I don’t have too many irons in the fire.”

This last, a little louder, caught the ear of Inspector Bromide. “Remember, Trite, it’s best to look before you leap. Haste makes waste, you know.”

“Truer words never were spoken, Inspector, but I always say, he who hesitates is lost. After all, we both know that a stitch in time saves nine.” Taking some tobacco from a pouch, Sgt. Trite put that in his pipe and smoked it.

With a stiff upper lip, Inspector Bromide extended his hand to Trite. Shaking it firmly he said, “Best of luck, Trite. When you’ve found your man I’m sure you’ll make him understand that crime doesn’t pay.”

“Thanks, Inspector. You can’t keep a good man down, you know. I just hope I don’t find myself up a creek without a paddle, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Good-bye, Inspector.”

“Have a good day, Trite.”

Then, with the shoe on the other foot, (it hurt less that way), Sgt. Trite of the Cliche Squad rode off into the sunset on his trusty steed.


“Whoa, big fella!” Trite gently reined in his horse. “I see smoke and where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”  Realizing that time was of the essence, Trite had pushed on through the night after leaving Inspector Bromide. Even though it was darker than the inside of a tar-papered coal bin at midnight, he had spared neither himself nor his horse. Now he was ready to spring the trap.

Trite dismounted and began to move forward. His years of experience had taught him that silence was golden and he proceeded as though walking on eggs. Pushing aside a last bit of foliage Trite stepped into a clearing. There, no more than a stone’s throw away, lay the man he had been pursuing so relentlessly these many months: Black Bart!

“He’s catching 40 winks, I see,” Trite remarked softly to himself. “May the arms of Morpheus embrace him just a while longer, knock on wood.”

Slowly but surely he closed the distance between them. Soon, he was but a few feet from Black Bart. Taking the bull by the horns, Trite called out, “Rise and shine, Black Bart! As always, the early bird gets the worm. You’re under arrest!”


Meanwhile, back at headquarters, Inspector Bromide was as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof. “Where can Trite be?” he fumed as he paced worriedly to and fro. “That Black Bart is one tough hombre and Trite may have his hands full trying to bring him in. Hope he didn’t bite off more than he can chew this time!”

“Never fear, Trite is here!” boomed out a familiar and hearty voice. “Better late than never, you know.”

“Trite! You are a sight for sore eyes! Did you get your man?”

“The long arm of the law reached out and plucked him, Inspector,” replied Trite. “It was like taking candy from a baby.”

“Tell me how you did it, Trite,” urged Inspector Bromide. “How were you ever able to get the drop on Black Bart?”

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat, Inspector. But let’s just say that winners never cheat, cheaters never win and patience is a virtue. It’s curtains for Black Bart now!”

“Right you are, Trite. We’ll lock him up and throw away the key.”

“Well,” yawned a weary Sergeant Trite, “I think I’ll call it a day and hit the hay. By the way, Inspector, isn’t there a reward for the capture of Black Bart?”

“Sorry, Trite. Virtue is its own reward.”

(To be continued at a later date.)
2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2010 6:26 am

    >A triting experience, indeed. Reminds me of the movie about homeless dogs that ended up in some Indian stew – I believe it was called The Pound And The Curry – but I could be wrong. The weather in Seattle is quite cozy, as they say, and if you are out of state (either physically or mentally), Doctor Dave has obviously the answer for your questions regarding Seattle and its poor reputation regarding said weather – whether in Seattle or not.Nico

  2. November 14, 2010 11:19 pm

    >I think we have a great reputation for our weather – it keeps people from moving here!Dave

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