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In A Sow’s Ear

by Gwen Petersen
Big Timber, Mont.

The robins are here. Herons are preparing nests in the tops of tall cottonwoods on the island in the river. Crows, ravens, hawks, eagles, blackbirds, and chickadees abound and yesterday, I’m pretty sure I heard a meadowlark’s song.

Killdeer will be along shortly. Sparrows you can count on all year. Soon, along the county road you’ll see wild turkey hens leading their chicks in a line like a row of school kidlets being guided across a street.

Pheasants court suicide at the edges of gravel roads. Pigeons nest in the barn and fly in formation over the corrals. Magpies squawk hoarsely to call their friends to come and eat the dog food left in the pan. Vee configurations of geese honk overhead every morning like traffic on a sky-way freeway.

But you really know winter’s over because of the 36th Governor’s Conference on Aging on May 4. The Conference is always a sign of spring. It will give you an overabundance of tips about how to get on with the rest of your life. (You’ve obviously lost the ability to think for yourself).

There will be a host of hotshot professionals there with advice on your mental faculties (if you have any), your trusts (curable with money ” yours), living wills (living Henrys also), powers of attorney (somebody gets to pay your bills when you can’t remember your name), guardianships (somebody has to guard you from trying to escape the Home), conservatorships (somebody to take over your stuff when you go loony) to name a few. They’ll also talk to you about depression. If you don’t have it, a medical Doctor will share advice on how to acquire a nice thick black one.

Additionally, you may enjoy a fat lecture on “Intellectually Stimulating Programs” for oldsters. How to take courses on-line in the humanities, sciences and arts. (Sorry, I know you were hoping for sky-diving and bungee-jumping classes).

Plus you can endure a fat discussion session on “workforce development.” (Translation: You’re old, so you can be hired cheap. E.g.Wal-Mart greeters and Costco food demonstrators). You’d better have good legs. You have to stand on cement for hours. Only corporation executives wearing business suits are allowed chairs. When your varicose veins start exploding, you’ll have to quit, unless they fire you. (Better to be fired than quit ” you’ll get unemployment benefits for awhile).

A seminar on Sexuality and Aging sounds plumb intriguing. (Will they furnish gigolos for demonstrations?)

And to bring this column back to how it started ” birds ” there will be lectures on “bird watching” as a hobby suitable to an old fogey such as yourself. Right away, you know this lecture will be from a person under 40. The descriptive blurb says “birding is fun (in what way is counting birds fun?), relieves stress (what stress would that be ” your incontinence is out of control?), provides exercise (just what you want ” a chance to tromp the woods on your bad-knees and legs, not to mention mosquito and fly bites, plus a crick in the neck from peering up), appeals to all ages (all ages of what? Bird dogs?), and fits all levels of physical ability” (Now you know the lecturer is under 40).

From my deck I can watch all the birds I need to see. But first, I’m taking a nap from the stress of writing a column.


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