Birdlines (2)

I’ve taken to counting us in the courtyard. The other day there were nine mourning doves and one goldfinch. I made eleven. I think this counting thing’s because the white crowned sparrows left. I don’t want to believe they’re really gone. And I still miss my own small furred ones. But I’ve had so many encounters with the feathered of late, too. There is my hummingbird mama and her two little ones in the guayaba tree who are a surprising, tender thread woven through my days. At the park I have a long conversation with a grackle in a nearby tree and watch a volunteer from the animal shelter walk a big dog that stirs my longing. I hear a hawk call. I look up to see him land in the tree behind me. I don’t know what kind of hawk he is, but I have an uncanny feeling when I hear his voice and watch him settle in the branches of the tree. Oh, yes, I know you. I’ve known you for a long time. Later I wonder if this hawk has been nearby for years, or if he is someone I have known before in this life or another. Oma comes to mind. Oh, and in the courtyard I look up to scores of egrets flying northwest across the late dusk sky. Such a gift, this glancing up, the chance to watch their silent progress. And this long flurry of birds reminds me of the dream where I stand with a handful of people in a big clearing surrounded by trees. All kinds of birds circle the clearing, a steady, patient flapping of wings. A blur of movement, rush of air and feathers. Someone calls out. It feels like they’re waiting for us to do something. Or maybe we’re all waiting together. I’m wearing old hiking boots and holding my wooden walking stick loosely in both hands. I turn to look over my shoulder at the birds. I spot the belly of a red shouldered hawk as he passes, just out of reach if I stretched my fingertips up to him. I spy white crowned sparrows bobbing in and out, and house finch, too. I see a Eurasian collared dove, big and gangly by comparison, the slower moving bear to their darting squirrels. John says he has roadrunners who live in the tree in his back yard. They are great darters, too. In the dream, we are an odd host, but we are gathered and steady. Hawks, crows, northern flickers, hikers, songbirds, people’s dogs and kids weaving in and out, noses on other things. We are an unusual line of defense.

5 thoughts on “Birdlines (2)

  1. I love the descriptions — and naming — of the birds. These posts are observant, beautifully written, and wise to boot. I always feel better after reading your work. Thanks, Riba.

  2. Oh, what a thing to be able to hear about my work! Thank you, Bart. I like knowing you liked the naming. I was tempted to name more but reined myself in. I have this feeling like the flavor of a longer book when I might spend much more time describing those birds in their circling flight. Maybe I will need to sneak in a few more here. ;-)

  3. I am behind in my new year of posts and hoping to get caught up today and tomorrow so I can go back to being current. Happy to see you here, Bart. And to see your “like” and the other likes from my familiar people. Thank you all! Always such a pleasure for me, guys. :)

  4. ” I made eleven. I think it’s because the white crowned sparrows left.” I like the turn of thought from counting to inner, less mathematical thoughts. By the end of this piece a warm sphere is drawn around all. Good to read your posts. Thank you, Riba.

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