Went spelunking in my photo files and found a file from December that I’d forgotten.
Wishing everyone a lovely weekend filled with unexpected treats and no overripe bananas. Unless, of course, you’re in the mood for baking bread . . .
It’s been snowing wet concrete all day, but after my first shoveling shift I was rewarded with lots of bird action in the back yard. Turns out robins and starlings like to hang together.
1) Coco’s acute back pain troubles have greatly improved, but it’s a fine balance between managing her pain and keeping her from feeling so good that she does dumb things like jump from the back of the car before I can stop her. Right after a massage session.
2) Due to lifting Coco and the stress of her ongoing health issues, I’m now experiencing back pain that isn’t alleviated by yoga but is improved by treadmill running. Hooray?
3) We’re gathering estimates for a roof replacement and already feel enormous pain in our bank account that is further exacerbated by the fact that the roofing materials we can afford are bad for the planet. Asphalt shingles = nasty.
4) This morning while removing Zebu’s bread from toaster oven, the slice fell onto the heating element and burst into flames. Ouch.
5) Okay, that last one was just silly. It’s not as if I burned my hand or stabbed myself with the knife I used to remove the flaming bread. Who am I trying to kid?!
Wishing everyone a wonderful, pain-free weekend!
Other times, however, photos contain bonus details the viewer might miss. Take a look at this picture: If you’re like me, you didn’t immediately notice the safflower seeds falling from the pointed beak of this Northern Flicker.
I have gazillions of feeder photos taken over the years, and I’m loathe to delete any of them because it seems there’s a surprise hidden in each if I take the time to see what’s there. I’m having a similar experience in my writing life as I work with a fast-drafted manuscript I wrote and put away for four years. I’m creating a bookmap (an analysis/breakdown of each scene) and am tickled by the little gems hidden in the rough of that first draft. Granted, there’s a lot of not-so-good and, of course, the distractions of various plot and character possibilities. But I’m trying hard not to be blinded by the obvious so that I’m open to all possibilities. I want to honor everything: the written, the implied, and the subtle-yet-powerful details dancing on the periphery.
“Water is life’s mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.” ~ biologist and Nobel laureate Albert von Szent
Wandered over to the window, and what should I see? A Red-tailed Hawk on the wire not far from my feeder. Watching the activity below.
But what about the finches, chickadees, and juncos? Surely they recognize the danger and are hunkered down? Or not.
Oh, no! Is he about to make his move?
He’s moving, all right. In the opposite direction.
Happy Solstice! Happy New Year! Happy Happy!
I’ve been hard at work on revisions and had The Plague for about ten days. I’m just now easing back into life. One good thing about being ill is I could keep a close eye on the feeders and bird bath, and so caught lots of fun activity. Here’s a finch-in-flight in front of a fellow finch.
Here’s a Northern Flicker:
This is our first winter with a heated bird bath and it was the best investment for our feathered friends, especially when temperatures were below zero early this week. I’m always so happy when someone drops by for a drink.
The other day I was working at the table next to the window overlooking the main feeder, the many finches, chickadees, juncos, etc. chirping away, when I became aware of SILENCE. I looked outside and there was not a bird to be seen. Not a one. I scanned the power lines for a predator, and finally located a hawk at the very top of our old maple tree at the other end of the yard. I was craning my neck for a better view when it took flight. Within a minute, birds began to reappear out of the plum bushes behind our fence, reminding me of the Munchkins in Oz.
“Come out, come out, wherever you are . . .”
I glanced out the window this morning and saw a bird high up on the wire.
It was partially blocked by the bare branches of a red maple and power
lines, feathers fluffed against the cold wind.
Kestrel, I thought.
I grabbed the binoculars and, sure enough, it was an American Kestrel.
Simon Barnes wrote about jizz*** (I know, such an unfortunate term), defining it as “the art of seeing a bird badly and still knowing what it is.” The more you watch birds, the more information you internalize, and as Mr. Barnes points out, “Familiarity enables you to process scanty information and interpret it in a meaningful way.”
When I see a bird in flight, one moving in a bouncy up-and-down pattern,
I know it’s a finch. If I catch a glimpse of a bird on the ground, scratching in the
leaves, I identify it as a spotted towhee. If a bird flaps past me, trailing long tail
feathers, I recognize it as a magpie.
This makes me happy. Because no matter what else is going on in my life —
parenting worries, frustrating quest for publication, search for part-time
employment, etc. — I am a bad birdwatcher and I’ve got jizz.
It’s a life-long condition and no one can take it away from me.
** From the opening chapter: “…[that's] what being a bad birdwatcher is
all about. It is just the habit of looking. Born-againers talk about bringing
Jesus into Your Life; this book is an invitation to bring birds into your life.
To the greater glory of life.”
*** Apparently, it’s inadvisable to search Google for the etymology for jizz
so I’m content to accept the one theory suggesting it’s a contraction of just is.
As in: “How do you know the lower bird in the photo below is a northern flicker?”