Friday, December 23, 2016

Buzzards Without Feathers

When I was a boy I lived on a farm in southern West Virginia, about 45 miles from the Virginia line. We had a limited amount of livestock. Cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkey, duck an old lame horse and a few cats and dogs. I was painfully aware of these barnyard members of our family. The reason being my brother and I had to feed and water them morning and evening. I even had to milk 3 members of the cow family morning and evening.

Life was pretty simple there in those hills. Little in the way of TV programming. No computer with games and such. It was a dreary day to day agenda of up early and work until your dropped in the evening. There was little to break the monotony of routine.

I remember the fascination I had with a certain member of the Cathartidae family, in particular the turkey buzzard. These creatures could be seen gliding through our skies, over our pasture land in a seemingly effortless gliding path. When they began to accumulate in numbers and began to circle in a particular space you knew there was trouble in "River City". When it was on your property you knew that you had a member of your barn yard family likely missing having fallen to accident or pestilence.

Our father would send us boys out to track what was going on when he read the skies bearing the mark of the buzzard. It was an interesting departure from routine for us. We became explorers, adventurers, detectives in the effort to unearth the cause of this mystery. We would head out to the far reaches of our farmland, usually on foot to observe, return and report. The news was always received with mixed results. The barnyard gang were investments to my father and mother. Death striking them was not a positive outcome.

Now at 70 and 1/2 I am a city dweller. I still see buzzards surveillancing the skies overhead but the mystery of that creature has dwindled in my life. I am involved in the race of various pursuits. None of them as mind numbing as hoeing potatoes or shocking corn. One of my more pleasant involvements has always been traversing my neighborhood on foot pushing a baby stroller or on the business end of a leash for our energetic little hound dog. I have made the acquaintance of numerous neighbors over the years in this fashion and have always enjoyed stopping and catching up on their news.

One such neighbor was Mr. Irving Bornstein over on Tipperary. He was a friendly sort of a fellow. I would encounter him as I walked past his place and catch him when he was retrieving a trash can or putting out mail or getting his mail. He would come out and check to see how much little Bellamy was growing. I learned about his family, his wife, his daughters. What the neighbors were doing that annoyed him. He was from Jacksonville and made his living as a tile setter. He had apparently been a successful one judging from the luxury cars in his driveway. He was in his 90's. I encountered him one day on the arm of a daughter and learned that he had suffered a stroke and was fighting hard to stay at home.

Bellamy moved away and I had fewer occasions to pass his home. I began to walk that way again after my physician ordered me to get active again. I did not see Mr Irv ever when I passed his house. There was not a lot of perceptible activity at his place and I feared the worst.

A couple of weeks ago I came up to his home and there was enormous activity ensuing. Cars were parked up and down the street and people were coming and going in droves.It became obvious to me that this had all the markings of an estate sale. I turned up his driveway with Petie the wonder hound and asked a fellow who was in charge if there was any family present. He advised me that Mr. Irv had passed away some three months earlier. His wife had moved to south Florida to be near a daughter.

People were picking the bones of his personal possessions. There was a lot of cash being exchanged. So much that the liquidators had an armed deputy sheriff present. While I spoke with the head liquidator a realtor came up and handed him a card and said to please have his widow contact her about listing their home.

As I walked away I mused concerning the similarities between my earlier experiences with the buzzards providing evidence of the passing of one of our barn yard citizens by their circling activity. The same evidence caused me to investigate the welfare of my neighbor Mr Irv. The only factor that was dissimilar was the fact that none of these buzzards possessed any feathers.