Don Sorchych My View

Roadrunners • Japan

Shari Jo and I wakened to a familiar sound. It was the tat tat of a roadrunner pecking on the reflective surface of the sliding glass doors. It may be seasonal because he pecked for maybe 45 minutes before wandering off, only to return several times.

He was joined several times by a more mature male who also assaulted the window.

We are honored by an indefinite number of roadrunners and watch them catch lizards and baby quail by the hundreds. Their sturdy beaks must be hard as rocks because they slam their prey on rocks or hard ground repeatedly before swallowing it. We have a bonanza of lizards at our house that keeps them around.

canfield roadrunner cartoon
I have read they kill and swallow rattlesnakes in the same fashion but have never seen it. It is said they will swallow as much snake as they can and continue on their journey with a length of snake hanging out of their mouth, continuing to swallow it an inch at a time.
We have been fascinated by the fact we have never seen a roadrunner nest or infant roadrunner. We know they build nests and females may be sitting nests now since we only see males. Later, females attack our windows too.

Roadrunners lay 2 to 12 eggs over a three day period and have staggered births. The late born may suffer the indignity of being eaten by their parents after they hatch. Apparently the young venture out to the desert – maybe that is why we have never seen young roadrunners.

We have tried to socialize roadrunners as a friend did, but find them to be super wary.
I don’t know how she did it but Terry Grasse, who once worked here, was able to call one to eat hamburger from her hand. The roadrunner would seek out her husband by going from window to window until he was spied. If it was cold he would peck on the window until Herb let him in. Later, he would peck on the window to get out.

Who wouldn’t want a pet roadrunner?

“Our” roadrunners sit on the peak of our roof and trill what we believe to be a mating call. They roam the yard seeking prey, much to our dog Emily’s chagrin. Emily, being a predator, knows one when she sees one. She won’t get excited and bark for rabbits or quail but will bark her head off for roadrunners, coyotes, javelina, bobcats and rattlesnakes.
That is one reason we can’t socialize a roadrunner.

I am no expert on Japan although I served there for a year in 1953 and 1954. It is sad to see their current state of radioactivity and death.

When I arrived in Haneda Airport, four of us who had been transferred there went into the terminal for lunch.

We had no sooner sat down when an earthquake rattled dishes and the expanse of window glass began to dance. We all jumped up and ran to the door and stopped, hearing everyone laughing at us. It was an every day occurrence.

We got used to the regular tremors; everyone did.

In 1953 World War II had been active only eight years before and it was a vanquished nation. General MacArthur had done a terrific job of nation building. It was safe to go anywhere in Tokyo even though it was primitive. Feces still flowed in canals throughout the city. Citizens were helpful and friendly even though some of our troops still treated them with disdain.

I know WWII veterans who still spit out the term “Japs,” never Japanese. No question they were committed and cruel troops. Many men from my home town died battling them.
But two atom bombs changed all of that and they unconditionally surrendered. Some of their leaders were put to death and military rule was vogue for a long time.

Despite being an ugly American I was concerned that our Japanese house boy was eating a can of sardines and a bowl of rice each day. I went to the PX and bought him a couple of sandwiches and a Coke. He pushed them back at me and whatever he said in Japanese I couldn’t understand but I knew he was telling me I didn’t have a clue.

Back then the economy was agrarian but the outlet for women was either marriage or prostitution. Every hotel and some military clubs featured pornographic plays and whatever else anyone wanted.

In that environment I developed a taste for sushi and sashimi that is still unabated.
Shortly after college I was managing a semiconductor company. Japan was making great strides due to heavy government subsidies.

Many in Wall Street predicted America would lose to Japan and become a second class supplier. Japan was especially strong in memory, which, eventually sold in huge volumes at low cost.

But the negative predictions by Wall Street analysts gradually changed to praise as Intel became the leading semiconductor manufacturer which then and now lead the pack in microprocessors. Eproms and E2proms.

But Japan is still a powerful factor as manufacturers’ shortages for vital components suffer from the Tsunami disaster.

In my dealing with Japanese I found them to be the most rational and professional of all
far-east countries. Their agony today is impossible to realize. One of the online columnists dismissed the Japanese as homogeneous because they have accepted their hardships with few complaints and that is true. But they also are a humble and caring people and I hope you do what you can to help them.