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Binoculars and my Tilley hat

April 3, 2010

I’ve always had a soft spot for binoculars. In fact, when I was about 12 years old, my dad had to explain to me that it wasn’t exactly entirely acceptable to stare into my neighbour’s living room window through my binoculars. But when I asked him what the problem was with mere curiosity, he had a hard time explaining notions of privacy, since I don’t think he understood them himself. Anyhow, we made a deal that I could continue to spy on our neighbour as long as she couldn’t see me doing it; so, for a few months, I crouched or lay on the floor trying to point my binoculars at the window surreptitiously and then must have gotten tired of the whole ordeal.

I know it’s hard to imagine that anything could be more fascinating than watching a neighbour across the street watch TV or stir Ovaltine into her luke warm milk. But it turns out that watching birds (or trying to watch them) is even more thrilling! Today’s highlights were: a bluebird, a crane (last week, I pathetically mistook a flock of Canada geese — not the most attractive species, trust me — for a flock of cranes), a northern flicker (woodpecker) and, of course, accidentally staring at pinecones, thinking they were stationary birds. It turns out that I’m not great with bird names; I saw a killdeer, which I later, inadvertently, called a “deer kill.” And a few minutes after that, I referred to a junco as a “junkie.” Ah well. So much for my musical ear.

I had always considered Spring to be primarily visually stunning. Today, while we were out at Long Point Provincial park, it suddenly dawned on me that I could hear Spring appearing as clearly as I could see it. The birds gave it away.

Birds are growing on me. And not just because of the binoculars factor. Watching birds feels like learning a new language and training my ear. Bird sounds are as foreign to me right now as the double acute accent on Hungarian words felt five years ago when I first encountered it. And yet now, I can pronounce the Hungarian word for bath, fürdő (as in, the Szechenyi Baths) easily and the sound of the word excites me. Well, before I get carried away, I should let you know that I don’t speak Hungarian (yet) nor do I know anything (really) about birds. But who knows. Maybe one day. And in the meanwhile, I welcome any activity where I can wear my Tilley hat with pride.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Fireweed permalink
    April 4, 2010 12:13 am

    Thanks for clarifying the killdeer for me. I’ve always thought that was the most bizarre bird name ever and had no idea what it looked like.

    I got a Tilley before my last walking holiday in England (2008) and remain madly in love with it. One of the finest purchases I’ve ever made. I wear it pretty much every day between the last and first snowfall, after which I switch to my cozier grey fleece beret with snowflakes embroidered on it. A life without either of those hats would be a diminished life indeed.

  2. April 4, 2010 8:27 am

    Yay! You got a Tilley hat! woohoo! I’ve had one for the past 10 years and also wear it pretty much every day from May till October (well, this year April is the new May, go figure). Killdeers are actually pretty cute 🙂

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