This getting old business never ceases to drive me to frustration. For instance, it seems to me that a 62-yearold (which is my current condition) should need more sleep than, say, a 50- year old. Exactly the opposite is proving to be my case.
At 50, I would go to bed around 10 p.m., immediately fall to sleep and seldom wake up before the alarm commenced screeching at 7 a.m., at which point I wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep. At 62, I am wide awake after no more than 4 hours sleep no matter when I go to bed. I get up at all hours of the night and read or write. A glance at my watch tells me that it is 2:30 a.m., right now. I went to bed, dead tired, at 10:30 p.m., and it would take a double dose of surgical anesthetic to put me back to sleep.
I drank two cups of Celestial Seasoning Sleepy Time Extra tea before retiring last evening. It not only tastes good but it makes me relax and I’m usually asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. But as soon as it wears off, I’m brighteyed and bushy-tailed and ready to get back in the saddle again. I wish I’d had this problem when I was in my 30’s suffering the wrath of other members of my carpool.
Anyway, if you are more than 60 and suddenly find yourself not needing sleep, please drop me a note by snail or e-mail. I would be relieved to find out that at least a few other senior citizens share my frustration. I will put contact information at the end of the column.
In the meantime, I am stumped with an altogether different phenomenon.
Over the last couple of years, in the wee hours of the night, I have been hearing a critter calling or singing or least vocalizing in the woods across the way. Whatever it is, it makes the sound year round, rain or shine, 365 days a year. It doesn’t matter if the temperature is zero or 80 degrees. It moves from tree to tree from one night to the next in a narrow patch of woods that is probably 200 yards or so in length. Which is to say that it is not a frog or some other amphibian. Nor is it a flying squirrel, because I know what they sound like.
I’m reasonably sure that it’s a nocturnal bird and pretty sure that it is not in the owl family. I have spent housr on the Internet looking up bird calls and the closest thing I’ve found is something called a nightjar. My pal, Tom Miller and I call any sound we hear at night in the woods a nightjar, not really believing that there was such a bird until I discovered them on numerous web sites.
This creature makes a sound that is sort of rapidly clicking whir (whr.r.r.r.r.r) that lasts 3 or 4 seconds. In a minute or two it repeats itself and this goes on for hours on end. I heard it just before I went to bed and just stepped outside a minute ago. It is now past 3 a.m. and the critter is still there. It has moved to a different tree and the calls are less frequent; I would guess about four minutes apart.
It’s driving me nuts not knowing what it is. If you are an ornithologist or a bird expert or someone who recognizes sounds of the night, I would love to have you visit and sit on the front porch with me some night and tell me what on earth this critter is. It can’t be an insect or a cold-blooded animal, because I hear it in extremely cold weather and only after dark.
If you have any ideas, please let me know. Anything that makes a sound can be found somewhere on the Internet along with a recording of the song or call. The problem is that I have not been able to locate this particular one.
Finally, I need some oldfashioned white cornfield bean seed. I have brown seed, but I’ve lost the white variety that a generous lady from Laurel County sent me several years ago. Actually the vines blighted with a killing fungus and I was afraid to save the seed for fear that they’d been tainted. I have several varieties of heirloom bean seed and I would be happy to swap out or pay cash to anybody who might have the seed I need. The bean is question has a pod that looks like a white half runner on steroids. The pod is at least an inch longer much bigger around than a half runner and the taste is quite similar but more pronounced.
So, there you have it. I’ve given you three excuses to get in touch with me in case you feel you have to have one. Address your e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or snail mail me at 249 Charlie Brown Road, Paint Lick, Ky., 40461. Phone 859-925-2105.