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Anke and I are building our next boat, and writing about it at ABargeInTheMaking.blogspot.com. Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.

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Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Winter Birds


By Shel Silverstien

Winter Birds

Autumn is a time of visible transition.

Verdant leaves funk or flame before skurriling to ground. Seawater clears, revealing empty aquatic volume where lately salmon swam and swarmed. Birds write their winged cuniforms across a lonelier sky.

People, too, flow southward in search of sun. Or, with a hint of irony, snow. Those on the water, especially, if not driven by some economic necessity, leave the long straights and stretches to we few weird-birds who haunt them at the dark of the year.

But we're in good company!

We have a special place in our hearts for the birds who stay on... ravens, crows and eagles, owls, loons, herons, kingfishers, duck of several species, juncos, thrushes, ousels, gulls and cormorants. Geese and swans make their appearances, too, often lingering long. There are little brown birds whose names I don't know, working the bush for seed and the tideline for buglings.

I take special pleasure in watching them revel in winter, right through its sterner moments. They wash and preen and fluff themselves against the cold, chattering and flirting it up. As if this were paradise. As if they were born and bred for it.

It's true that nature extends her cold claw this time of year, culling the exhausted, the inattentive, the unlucky or those whose genes bet the wrong way. Toes to the fire, I wonder at their thoughts through the long, boreal nights of rain and snow and darkness. But those who remain feed each day to keep the fires burning within their breasts.

And come spring again, their young hatch out into the waxing day.




8 comments:

  1. An easier winter here Dave, compared to last year. It makes a difference for sure to the birds that stay. My favorites are the crows. We don't have ravens here but I am amazed by them as well. When I worked in the tar sands I would watch them thaw frozen food on hot pipes. Smart buggers they are..

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    1. Hi Alan,

      They all seem easier, lately, and it seems our avian populations are increasing, somewhat. In these times, good news is great news.

      And yeah, those crows! They're astute observers of our species. I love watching them work the fringes of our doings. Never suspected they could COOK, though!

      Dave Z

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  2. Fun thoughts Dave. However, I've got crap lungs from an injury. In January the lovely wife and I will be heading to sunny Florida. The cold dry air of a northern NH winter feels like death to me. I need that warm moist air.

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    1. Hi Sixbears,

      Sorry to hear that, but I understand Florida to be some consolation! A destination for some of 'our' sand-piper cranes. Say 'hi' for us!

      Dave Z

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  3. Saw about 40 pelicans spiraling upwards in a thermal about 80 miles north of the Guatemala border during the bi-annual visa run down there. Lots of "cara-cara" which are local hawks and banded black and white. And tons of vultures, of course.... to me one of the most beautiful birds ever in flight. Some weird ass flock crapped all over my van in the cheapo 14 buck a night road hotel I use on these runs (clean, good AC, and cable tv to boot!). Roasting dry season drive down the hot Soconusco coastal road but nights languid and just cool enough not to sweat. Now you just need a bird report from europe and south america and New Zealand. Yes, always blew me away up there how much the water clarified in winter. A lovely part of the world you inhabit.

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    1. Hi Robert,

      We've got a town, Pelican, named after a boat. Having seen it on the map, an out-of-state artist carved them on the capitol building, thinking they must be common in AK.

      And indeed, it is!

      Dave Z

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    2. Oh yeah.... nice piece of writing, Capt. Dave. Channeling 19th century american literature on this one?

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    3. Well... you could sure say I'm a Romantic! DZ

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