Out of the mud two strangers came
And caught me splitting wood in the yard,
And one of them put me off my aim
By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!"
I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind
And let the other go on a way.
I knew pretty well what he had in mind:
He wanted to take my job for pay.
Good blocks of oak it was I split,
As large around as the chopping block;
And every piece I squarely hit
Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.
The blows that a life of self-control
Spares to strike for the common good,
That day, giving a loose my soul,
I spent on the unimportant wood.
The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.
A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight
And turns to the wind to unruffle a plume,
His song so pitched as not to excite
A single flower as yet to bloom.
It is snowing a flake; and he half knew
Winter was only playing possum.
Except in color he isn't blue,
But he wouldn't advise a thing to blossom.
The water for which we may have to look
In summertime with a witching wand,
In every wheelrut's now a brook,
In every print of a hoof a pond.
Be glad of water, but don't forget
The lurking frost in the earth beneath
That will steal forth after the sun is set
And show on the water its crystal teeth.
The time when most I loved my task
The two must make me love it more
By coming with what they came to ask.
You'd think I never had felt before
The weight of an ax-head poised aloft,
The grip of earth on outspread feet,
The life of muscles rocking soft
And smooth and moist in vernal heat.
Out of the wood two hulking tramps
(From sleeping God knows where last night,
But not long since in the lumber camps).
They thought all chopping was theirs of right.
Men of the woods and lumberjacks,
The judged me by their appropriate tool.
Except as a fellow handled an ax
They had no way of knowing a fool.
Nothing on either side was said.
They knew they had but to stay their stay
And all their logic would fill my head:
As that I had no right to play
With what was another man's work for gain.
My right might be love but theirs was need.
And where the two exist in twain
Theirs was the better right--agreed.
But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.
Who am I?
I am fish. I am an anadromous fish which just means that I spend most of my life in saltwater. Not all of it, however. every spring when the water begins to warm I head upstream into fresher and fresher water until I am way up in the streams where I will lay my eggs. This assumes that the humans have not built dams or other obstructions that would keep me from getting upstream. Time once was when my friends and i would swim up all the rivers on the east coast of North America. Now there are only a few places left. Once I have made it upstream I will lay a few hundred thousand eggs. My eggs will drift downstream and hatch within a couple of weeks My babies will spend their first year in these freshwater streams before heading out to the ocean where we all overwinter. A few years later I will head back upstream to where I was born to lay my own eggs.
Where can you find me?
We are found everywhere from Canada to North Carolina, breeding in the freshwater rivers along the coast and spending our winters in the Atlantic between Maryland and North Carolina.
What do I eat?
When I am a small fry, baby, I will eat mostly small animals that live in freshwater streams, like copepods and other zooplankton. As an adult I will continue to eat plankton but will also eat small crustaceans and fish.
What might eat me?
Most of the bigger fish in the ocean will eat me. Sharks, dolphin, tuna and mackerel are among the fish I worry most about. In the Chesapeake I am a favorite meal of striped bass and the american eel.
Cool reasons why I am the critter of the month!