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Where I’ve been…

April 11, 2010

If you’re wondering why Birds and Words has been quiet these past few days it’s because I was preparing a lecture about Jewish music (when not in bird-mode or writing-mode, I frequently enter lecture-mode and do pre-concert talks). So, if you’re dying to know extra information about the under-appreciated composer Alexander Zemlinsky, let me know, and I’ll be happy to give you the low-down, and then you’ll be able to flaunt your new-found knowledge, and trust me, folks will be impressed, because it’s not every day you meet a person who has ANYTHING to say about Zemlinsky.

It’s now Sunday, which means that I went birding yesterday. I’m sure you’re also dying to know what new species I’ve added to my life list (which I have yet to start keeping; I told you, I’m a very somewhat birder). Well, yesterday we were supposed to see:

That would be a Barred Owl. Instead, we saw:

That would be Jobe’s Woods in Presqu’ile Provincial Park WITHOUT said Barred Owl and also without the lush green foliage, since Spring is merely “on its way” and hasn’t exactly sprung yet.

But we heard the Barred owl! Yes, our fearless leader and bird guru imitated the owl’s hooting and the owl responded! The syncopated duet went on for about 15 minutes, at which point crows, blue jays and other specimens arrived at the scene to check out the excitement. At first, it was exciting to know that there was an owl in our midst, probably staring down at us from some hemlock tree, laughing to himself. But after about an hour of waiting and hoping and sending telepathic messages to the bird, things got a little, well, slow. I guess that’s part of the beauty of nature. Sometimes it cooperates with you; other times it mocks you.

I was flipping through a book called the Ardent Birder, which I picked up last summer on Cape Cod, mainly because of the endorsement by Jonathan Franzen on the cover and also because I liked the title. It had been so long that I’d felt “ardent” about anything, that I laughed to myself in the Provincetown bookstore and thought — ha! wouldn’t it be something if I were to become an ardent birder? And, without even opening the book, I bought it. I bought the book because I could envision myself in it; it was a reflection of something I hoped to become. Isn’t that often how it is with books you’re instinctively drawn to? I fall for books when they inadvertently echo my day-to-day life or thoughts.

Of course, now the problem is that I’m not yet an ardent enough birder to fully appreciate the Ardent Birder.

But, I did have an aha-moment yesterday (even though it was more a day of hearing than of seeing). Seeing swallows in flight and being able to  see a swallow up close (and desperately hoping I can still recognize it next week!) enlightening.

Uh, it was a tree swallow that I saw, right? Hm….maybe it’s time to get a notebook!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Fireweed permalink
    April 12, 2010 9:44 am

    Aren’t swallows beautiful? I love their luminescent blue-green feathers. Our swallows aren’t back yet, but when they are, they sit and rest on the laundry line right outside the kitchen window and I can watch them up close while I have lunch. I also love watching them in flight – they’re maniacs, amazingly skilled, graceful and fast. They don’t turn up here until there are some flying bugs to eat and now, with the return of winter, we aren’t quite there yet.

  2. April 12, 2010 10:50 am

    ha ha. only you can make a trip to the empty woods sound fun. I still like Angry Owl best of all your owls.

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