Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Winter birds

Winter came, and all the birds left. They went south I guess. So we're just here with those dead and empty slate skies, the icy snow, and lonely trees.

Admittedly, when I was navigating the treacherous slicktitude of our walksurfaces, my eyes were primarily absorbed in sussing out whether the spots for my upcoming steps were reflective, glinting, and sheeny. I am hoping sheeny is not a slur. It sounds like a slur. I only mean to disparage slippery sidewalks though, the bloody sheens. But when I tore my view away from that sheeny ground, and I cast my eyes about to take in the thrilling views of a world carefully cake decorated, there were certainly no birds about. The turkeys were all eaten for thanksgiving. The geese were off in Texas after their showy October sojourns. And I don't have a clue as to what all the songbirds do in December. But if you think this blog is the work of a respected Ornithologist then, well, um, how exciting! 

Yes, I am very well regarded internationally as a bird expert, although other very famous bird experts sometimes tease me about how I don't know where songbirds go in Winter. But they don't know everything either!

So, no birds.

But then today I was walking on the unhostile, matte, and pleasantly melted sidewalks, admiring the crows, who seem far less noisy and far more happy in the Winter, and it suddenly occurred to me, "Hey. Crows are birds too." Which, if you know crows, would probably surprise them too.

And it was like a fog lifted from my mind because here's the thing: each season around here the world becomes completely different. One has to learn to see all over again. The crows opened the door. Suddenly there were seagulls flying over the Mississippi, looking for ocean. Woodpeckers were passing through pretending they weren't woodpeckers. And I saw a songbird. It was a cardinal! It was scarlet red, sitting plainly brilliant on a bare branch, the only jot of color in the whole bleeded landscape. Would I have seen this bright splash of color the day before? No. Even now, enlightened, I ignored it as I approached, assuming it was a scrap of candy wrapper caught up in a tree by the wind.

So now I know, the songbirds don't go anywhere, we're the ones who leave.

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