Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Late February at the river

On my more or less regular commuting walk through my neighborhood and along the Mississippi River the very gods themselves have come down from the heavens and breathed their piercing, spicy breath in my face. 

I have seen snowflakes the size of my hand fall thickly from the sky as lightning ribboned through the clouds. I have seen buildings burning. Walking on the river shore I have come upon great, loping red shore birds, the size of Dodos, unknown to modern Zoology. Cats have talked to me. Streets full of trees, all blooming radiantly with white flowers, have been touched by spring breezes and covered the ground in a field of fragrant snowy petals.

I've seen prehistoric five foot fish leap clear out of the river. I've seen herds of turkeys, impossible thousands of robins heavy like ripe fruit on every tree in my neighborhood, and families of raccoons each the size of a fat golden retriever. There have been eagles perched in trees eating from unwieldy carcasses, deer have scrambled panicked among the thin woods, flowers bloomed in impossible profusions late in the fall amid radiant burning pumpkin trees. Ten thousand people suddenly marched by. Northern Lights undulated strangely in the sky. Ice exploded, waterfalls formed and thundered from nowhere, and the work of graffiti geniuses appeared and were covered over in a single day. I saw rainbows, sky dogs, celebrities, and the cataclysms of storms, their wreckage altering my very path.

All of this and more I have seen in my neighborhood, walking, and along the river.

And today? What in late February did I see?

I saw a leaf.

It was dead.

Monday, February 27, 2017

A story of 22 minutes

Today we bring you another episode of

Tales of the Co-workers

Well, hmm, no, come to think of it, there haven't been any previous episodes, but let's not get bogged down in these trifling details. We have a trifling story to tell today and trifling details could easily damage its delicate fabric.

In today's story I am sitting at the phones station of my library, engaged in... pursuits, very important pursuits, some of which are not necessarily not work related. A co-worker who I will call Maureen, but who I think of as "Mo", approaches for a chat.

Mo rates a three out of ten on the chatometer.

What is the chatometer?

I'm glad you asked because I just invented it. It is a measure of how much I might like to chat with a given person. Three out of ten might mean "A little, but not much", or it might mean I am willing to chat for three minutes before I really want to stop chatting. Or it might mean both.

After three minutes Mo is not close to going away. This is a common characteristic of a person who rates a three out of ten on the chatometer. I politely soldier on, trying to give those subtle hints that it's time for her to move along. The hints don't take. Three minutes quickly become ten, and then those ten, fifteen. I can't shake her. So I finally say something about needing to get to work.

"Well they don't pay us to chat." Mo says.

This touches on one of my themes, and I can't resist saying "Sure they do. I think they pay us to chat, have a coffee, work, stay informed, read, socialize with the patrons..."

"I know you do." Mo says pointedly. Then, completely without irony or self knowledge, she adds "I just come in and work. I'm a worker. I come, work my time, and leave."

It is another seven minutes before I can induce her to leave. I counted.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


I had finished shelving a cart of books. So I wheeled my empty cart to the elevator and got in. My mind was racing, thinking of some blog post, or possibly re-working my upcoming liqueur budget with such a feverish intensity that it was a long while before I realized that I was just standing in an elevator, with the door closed, going absolutely nowhere.

"Hmph." I thought. And then I started to reach towards the buttons, and then I stopped.

And then I stood there some more.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

My good friend George Clooney

Well, I joke around a lot about hanging out with famous people, but I've never imagined anything would come of it. So imagine how astounded I was when megastar famous Hollywood Actor George Clooney responded to a blog post I wrote about having an imaginary coffee with him.

As I do on a more or less daily basis I check my blog for comments. When I did this, yesterday, there, on my post mentioned above, the one about the coffee, was a comment from George Clooney himself. At first I couldn't even believe my eyes. George Clooney. Commenting on my blog. Could this be my big break? What does it mean?

What to do? Who to turn to? Where to go next?

I called my friend Bob Dylan.

"Bob." I said. "You won't believe this but George Clooney left a comment on my blog."

"Yeah, I saw it." Bob said gruffly.

"You saw it!" I practically yelled. "But this could be my big break! What do I do? I've never even met a famous person before! What do I do?"

Bob cleared his throat. I waited. 

Bob cleared his throat again.

"You all right there Bob?" I asked with concern. He's had some respiratory problems in the past.

"I'm fine, uh, I guess. So, uh, just be yourself."

"Thanks." I said. "You still flying in for cocktails Thursday?"

He brightened. "Oh yeah. I found a bottle of the Benoit Liqueur de Violette. I'll bring it by."

"Good find!" I exclaimed. The Benoit Creme de Violette can be hard to get a hold of. Bob has a lot more energy than you'd think from just knowing him a little.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The annual budget

Dear Shareholder,

You may not be entirely aware that clerkmanifesto is run as a Public 504R In Share Corporation. You may also may not be aware that fact that you're reading this confirms that you are an officer of said corporation and own at least a half percent share in clerkmanifesto, possibly even more depending on whether you receive this via email, have bookmarked the site, or came upon it by fate. According to Public Exchange, in The Wall Street Journal, a percent share would be worth about $245 at current rates, even more if you are in the Asian Markets. Of course, this fluctuates greatly depending on the quality of the daily posts. An amusing post involving George Clooney has induced near doubling of the share price, while my comments on squirrels have caused panicked selling.

But I am really only telling you about all of this to explain that, due to organizational bylaws, I am required annually to publish my budget and earnings. You don't have to read this all if you don't want to. It's pretty dry stuff. But as a shareholder and in your position on the board of directors it would be the responsible thing for you to do.



Tropical Fish Hobbyist, $14,500
Skywriting, $5,350
Tattoo day at the State Fair, $8,500
Sidewalk chalk, $12
Neighborhood Urchins, $398
Catster Magazine, $4,440


Customer Appreciation Week, $18,585
Cat refund processing, $11,325
Caviar with a blogger day, $255,000

Equiptment and costs:

4,648 gel pens (blue and black), $2,920
Post-it notes, $28
Internet connection, $417
Pain and suffering for Internet connection, $5,282
Domain name, $5
Lucky blogging slippers, $70
Alcohol, $720

Total outlays:




George Clooney Foundation, $100,000
Mary Oliver slipper fund bequest, $70
Trifling detritus of Bob Dylan sold on ebay, $1,950
Gates Foundation bribe to "cool it" on Gates, $15


Blog subscriptions, $-295
Clerkmanifesto brand creme de menthe, $9,224
Mysterious squid to Monterey Aquarium, $500


Nobel Prize for Literature, $923,179
Good Blogger Samaritan Award, Gates Foundation, $100 

Total income:




This year we have run a tidy profit on clerkmanifesto, and that money belongs to you, the shareholders! As is custom here (and also part of our bylaws), we have converted the $707,191 into a like value in kittens. These kittens will be sent out this week to you, the shareholders, according to the number of shares you are holding. If you are a longtime shareholder you will note this is a much bigger profit than in previous years and so likewise you should expect a significant increase in kittens. We advise that you try to have someone around the house over the next couple of weeks to help deal with the deliveries, of which there may be quite a few. And now would also be a good time to start thinking of cat names, lots and lots of cat names. I'm fond of the name "Linus" if that helps.

Thank you, and see you next year shareholder!

Feldenstein Calypso for:


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Yoko Ono

Sometimes on Thursdays, in a vain attempt to stop a peculiar glitch that causes incoming phone calls to temporarily disable my Internet, I answer the phone.

"Hello?" I say, and I'm usually pretty cranky when I do so.

This time a gentle voice says "This is Yoko Ono."

"This is Yoko Ono?" I confusedly repeat.

"Is this the author of the essays on clerkmanifesto?" She asks.

"Um, yes." I reply with an awakening interest.

"Your account of when you heard of my husband's death, while you were on the edge of the Grand Canyon, was the most beautiful eulogy of John that I've ever read. I wanted to personally thank you."

"You're welcome Ms. Ono, but I don't believe I've written that account yet."

"What year is this?"

"2017." I replied.

"Oh. How inconvenient. Well please do so, won't you?"

"I plan on it, eventually."

"Yes, I suppose you would. Good luck to you."

"And to you Ms. Ono as well."

"Call me Yoko."


"In a couple of years, yes. I'll be in touch."

"It's been a pleasure." I said, and it was.

Plus my Internet was already working again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Dream of the formal joke

Among the many things I like to employ in moderation in this space is what I think of as the formal joke. This isn't the humor arising from context and natural stories. This is more like when someone comes up to you and says "I know a joke. Do you want to hear it?" 

That kind of joke.

I usually answer yes to that question. Yes I will hear your joke. Sometimes I've heard it. Sometimes I think it's funny. But mostly I listen, and smile, and say "That's not bad" like they've asked me to taste some milk they had in the refrigerator that's a day past expiration.

"Really, I can use it?"

"No one will die. I'm 90 percent sure."

I hope all that explains why I don't like to too frequently share here the formal jokes I've written.

I am even less inclined to recount any dreams I've had in this space. I think they have a strange relationship to authorship. Am I the author of a dream? I guess so. But it seems tainted somehow on that score by how I did it while sleeping. It's like a security guard nodding off in the night, causing a breaking and entering villain not to notice him, who then stumbles over the sleeping guard in the dark and is knocked unconscious in the fall. Is the security guard a hero? Er, possibly?, but they'd probably never quite feel fully like it was because of how good they are at their job. 

But what if I dream a joke?

Last night I dreamed an actual joke! I immediately thought "I must make a blog post of this joke!"

And so I sat down here to do so and I wrote what you've just read, planning all along to tell you this entirely not very funny joke that barely makes sense and was only even mildly funny in the dream

But now suddenly I understand: I have simply articulated here really good reasons not to tell you this joke.

And so you are spared.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Raining squirrels

I was walking down the street singing down dooby doo wop, or something, when a squirrel fell out of a tree.

"THUMP" went the squirrel, and it was a small THUMP because it was naught but a wee squirrel, but it was a capital letter THUMP because the squirrel fell a long way. The squirrel fell 30 feet. Relative to size, for one of us bigjobs that would be like falling from the moon.

I looked at the squirrel. Who wouldn't? For one long second he didn't do a single thing, not twitch, groan, breathe, or live. Then he looked at me and ran back up the tree he fell out of.

When I see a dead squirrel, on the roads or the sidewalks, as I often do, squished or desiccated, wounded or almost like they're just sleeping, I always think "Car?" or "Cat?" or "Disturbed neighbor boy?". But this event of squirrel error, of near squirrel catastrophe, has given me new views on these wee beasts. Maybe rather than the horrid mundanity of predators and cars the squirrels' dazzling acrobatics are their greatest danger. Their magical grace and facility among the high branches is not some bland given of squirrel evolution, rather is is a private and earnest art. It is the testing, against death itself, of the limits of what is possible. A squirrel making an unearthly leap from tree to tree, tracing an impossible route through the sky of a thin winter canopy, is not inevitably successful. That squirrel is not merely going about its business. That squirrel is not even sensible.

What if the mistake we make is not anthropomorphizing? What if evolution, too thin for us, in all our exotic madness, falls short out at the far reaches of everything that lives. I have nothing against science or observation. I am all for it. But these are puny tools for music, and for looking at clouds, and yes, for squirrels, out in the trees, mocking the fear of death, on some absurd lark of a mission we fully understand, but are reluctant to admit.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sick joke

No, the joke is not so sick. I am. Actually, come to think of it, yes, the joke is a little sick. It's also not that good. But my energy is low and I'm tired and sniffling and sneezing constantly. That's what I meant by me being sick. This has lowered my usual blog standard from:

I have something important to say. There looks to be a way through to say it. I have considered it carefully, tested it, found wit and color in it, and am ready to forge something I think might be true.


Something randomly occurred to me.

I bet you're excited!

You are?

I'm, I'm touched. Maybe I should scrap this random joke and try and raise my standard back up. I'm not even sure it makes sense.

No? You want to hear the joke that's not very funny, might not make sense, and is not actually all that sick when it comes to jokes?

Okay. But I'm now entirely innocent in the matter. Thank you for taking responsibility for this.

The Joke You Insisted Upon

A man's large dog is due for his annual health exam so he takes him to the Vet. They sit quietly in the waiting room until they are called in to see the Vet. Just as the Vet starts to take a look at the big dog, the dog eats him.

"This is not good!" The man says to himself. The man and the dog leave in a hurry.

They go home, but the dog starts to get quite sick, so they go to another Vet. The same thing happens as at the first Vet. The man even warns the staff that the dog might be a bit dangerous, but before they can do anything the dog eats another Vet. So they hurry out of there in the tumult.

Afraid to see another Vet the man stays at home nursing his dog, but the dog is just getting sicker and sicker. So he arranges to see another Vet. But this time he carefully warns the clinic and every precaution is taken. The dog is muzzled and put in a special safety chamber. The Vet is in no danger. The Vet carefully examines the dog, mostly remotely, and asks the man a number of penetrating questions. He says "Aha." a lot. Finally the Vet announces "I know what has made your dog ill."

"What is it?" The man cries. "I've been so worried!"

The Vet looks reprovingly at the man. "Dogs are not meant to live on a Veterinarian Diet!"

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Events often preceding a sick day

The clever and talented actor George Clooney and I are out at a local coffee house getting a couple of cappuccinos. Correction, I am getting a cappuccino.

"How can you drink one of those in the afternoon?" George asks as he gets an espresso.

"You've gone native." I reply.  I have been in Italy enough to know that cappuccino is only for breakfast. I also know that I will never be anything other than a tourist in Italy, so I might as well drink what I like. If I'm a really good tourist I am mistaken for a French tourist. George spends a third of the year at his Villa on Lake Como and is in a whole other realm of Italianess.

"Eh." He says. "I'm too famous to become Italian. I think the chef we have at the house has brainwashed me. This isn't bad." He adds, sipping his espresso. 

I'm glad he likes it. I took him to the best cafe we have in the twin cities for coffee, instead of to the second best one, the one with better seating, because I had a feeling this might be important.

"How's the blog going?" He asked.

"I'm writing it right now." I reply.

"It should have more readers." He says.

"Eh." I say. Everyone's so concerned. "I'm happy with my seventeen readers." I add. "Quality over quantity."

"I'm touched." He says. He's a regular reader. It's how I know him. Though he wasn't necessarily who I was thinking of when I said that.

"You know." He starts to say reluctantly. "Vanity Fair wants to do a cover/interview piece on me and I can pick the writer. It can be you, and I can talk a lot about clerkmanifesto in it."

"It'll give them more to edit out then. I think you've been famous so long you live in a fantasy world George."

This upsets him. "I live in a fantasy world? I live in a fantasy world! I live in a fantasy world!!" He gestures so much he knocks over his espresso. Fortunately it's empty.

I regard him calmly for a moment. And I'm thinking: I'm sick of working at the library. I'm sick of my ridiculous and suffocating managers, the endlessly repeating work, even my co-workers are wearing me out. How can it hurt to see where the Vanity Fair thing leads.

"Fine." I say to George. "Set it up. Let's see what happens."

But George Clooney is gone. There's just a young man standing before me with a slightly concerned look on his face.

"Can I get a library card?" He asks.

I look at him confusedly for a moment, then I collect my wits. "Sure." I say. "Sure."

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Bob Dylan's fans

Because of my personal friendship with Bob Dylan, coupled with my lack of interest in preserving his dignity, I am in the rare position of being able to offer some behind the scenes glimpses of the great man. My small coterie of readers take this sort of thing in stride, but usually these accounts slip out to the Dylanophiles, who, starved of gritty information on the musical legend, tend to get a little excited.

Yesterday I posted the following:


Messing about with his phone Bob lets out a groan. "Aw geez, why are you quoting me in the press again?"

"Do you have to check your phone for quotes about yourself when we're trying to have a civilized drink together, Mr. Tambourine man?"

He laughs. I will say this for the man, no matter how funny he might think a joke I make is he'll do everything in his power not to laugh at it, but if the joke's about him he doesn't mind letting out a snort. "Don't change the subject." He says.

"I've run the numbers." I explain. "I average seven more readers for every blog post in which I quote you."

"Clown." He says. Then he hoists his cocktail glass in my direction, a very pretty drink called an Aviation, made with crème de violette.

Lifting my own I say "Weirdo genius." 

We clink glasses.

I have a pretty quiet blog out here in the deep woods of the Internet. And though I have camouflaged it heavily in local twigs and lichens, Dylan fans are well accustomed to peering through the layers to find, well, more layers. And so my usually quiet blog suddenly and instantaneously is deluged with questions, actually both questions and comments from Dylan fans, Dylan Scholars, Dylan acolytes, Dylan haters, and Dylan Marketers:

"Could you ask Dylan what his earliest memories are of jugglers and clowns?"

"Dylan is not the tambourine man. Rather the tambourine man is a figure of light, a pied piper to God, who..."

"Where can I buy crème de violette?" 

"When you called him a "Weirdo genius", what did you mean? I have a theory that..."

"If you had to describe Dylan's mood these days, what verbs would you use?"

"Can you get a photo I have to Bob? If he could just see it for a second I know he'd understand."

I don't know if these are good questions or bad questions or crazy questions. I just know I have no idea how to answer any of them. So I call Bob.

"Bob," I say. "I'm getting all these wild questions about you all of the sudden."

"Tell me about it." Bob says in his strange gruff voice. I start to do so, but he interrupts me. 

"I meant that rhetorically." He says.

"Oh." I say. "But what should I tell them?"

"Believe me, man, there's nothing you can tell them. Just let it go."

So I tried to do this, but I felt kind of bad ignoring them all. So I sent each of them an autographed picture of myself.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Bob Dylan, quoted

Bob Dylan's friends and family have a tendency to protect his privacy, and it is rare for personal news or unguarded quotes from or about him to slip out into the public eye. This places me in a unique position. I have no compunction about quoting the man. It is not enmity. Bob is dear to me. I'm simply not interested in playing along with all that mythologizing silence.

And so I offer this vignette from yesterday: 

As usual we're having a drink.

Messing about with his phone Bob lets out a groan. "Aw geez, why are you quoting me in the press again?"

"Do you have to check your phone for quotes about yourself when we're trying to have a civilized drink together, Mr. Tambourine man?"

He laughs. I will say this for the man, no matter how funny he might think a joke I make is he'll do everything in his power not to laugh at it, but if the joke's about him he doesn't mind letting out a snort. "Don't change the subject." He says.

"I've run the numbers." I explain. "I average seven more readers for every blog post in which I quote you."

"Clown." He says. Then he hoists his cocktail glass in my direction, a very pretty drink called an Aviation, made with crème de violette.

Lifting my own I say "Weirdo genius." 

We clink glasses. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017


It is a frequently acknowledged truth that nearly all good library workers have a touch of OCD. My own deep need to get everything lined up just so, to check just one more time, is something of an asset when it comes to a fussy, gigantic filing system in state of constant, pulsating flux and reorganization. A single transposed number or letter, in a stream of a dozen, can effectively bury a whole series of books into a pocket of total unfindability. If a person files downstream from a wrongly shelved book one can end up with a sequence that looks like: 1,2,3,4,5,6,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. That kind of counting is fine for Republican Economists, but it has no place in a practical world.

So there I am making what I like to think of as a special guest appearance, shelving. And because I like to surround my shelving with a great deal of snacking, alternatives to working, cappuccino drinking, and chatting with people, when I actually get down to shelving I like to run a masterclass in it. I can afford to apply this razor sharp intensity because I have paced myself. I have prepared. I have taken two hours of shelving and condensed it into a more proper 20 minutes. I am shelving at a smooth and beautiful pace. I am alert. My focus is preternatural. I am fixing all errors as I go. I am making fabulous time. And then it happens.

"Wait, did I just shelve that under "Douglass" or "Douglas"?"

So I go back to where I just shelved and I check. It would kill me not to. Things have to be right! It is that small touch of OCD I've been talking about.

Fortunately I did indeed shelve it under "Douglas", as I was supposed to. I happily move along.

But was it "B. Douglas" or was it "R. Douglas"?

Oh, okay. I got it right, I see this when I go back. It is under "B. Douglas." I then straighten the shelf it's on so all the bindings line up with the front edge of the shelf. Then I double check. "B. Douglas". Looks good. I'm ready to move on! But wait. There is a book among the "B. Douglas" that is out of order by title. It's not my fault, but it surely won't do. I fix it and move on. This is just the sort of attention to detail I'm talking about. I have helped to, wait, but what was the title of the "B. Douglas" book I just shelved. That other one was wrong, but was the one I filed correct? I go back and check. 

Yes, it's fine. I can now move on to other things knowing that I have... wait, let me just make sure before I say it. Okay. It is in the correct place. Now I can move on knowing I have made no mistakes and everything is perfect. Sure it's all a little obsessive, but the key thing is that it's not too obsessive. Importantly we know that it was accurate, and accuracy is every bit as important as speed! Maybe even more so.

Which is why I'm just going to hop back upstairs and make sure I got it right. Wait here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Man, people, I mean, totally.

I, just, you know, write this blog because I love it. It's the inner satisfaction, you know? And I share it with whoever, out in the public, just in case it will mean something to a few other people. Sure it's great that millions of other people respond strongly to it, and obsess over it, and read it every day, and study it, and all that. But that's not what I'm after. I'm simply after that cool, clear place of getting it all right for myself.

Great, if it means something to you. It's super nice of you to tell me, though of course you understand that it's physically impossible for me to respond to thousands of letters and emails each week. But bless you, absolutely. 

But if you could cool it all a bit on the anger and disappointment on my behalf that would be great.

"You are the god of writing. It kills me that you aren't wildly famous!!!!" Is such a nice thought really, and thank you, from the bottom of my heart, but it's not a contest. It's just you and me out there on your computer. Enjoy, okay? It's not competition or proof. It's just witness.

"Why you aren't the richest, most published and acclaimed writer on the face of the Earth is a crime I will never fathom!" People tell me every single day. And I just want to say, hey. C'mon. Love comes from within.

Because hey. Springsteen wrote me last week. "I will open for you if you tour." He said. "The world needs your wisdom. Just you, on a stage, reading your blog posts, would be a strange revelation in itself, like the mighty prophets come again. Let me talk to my people. I admire you above all other artists in the world."

Bruce, hey, easy there Boss. 

I'm not going to start carrying on about how I'm not wise. Maybe I am, and maybe I'm not, but if I am, at all, it's because I live close to my heart. This is a big universe. I can write, but no one can write into the fabric of the universe? Do you know what I mean?


Yeah, well I guess it is kind of complicated.

Mary Oliver emailed me the other day: "That last one, about the robins, pierced me to the heart. Do you sell any t-shirts with your blog address on them?" And it truly touched me, you know? But, c'mon, Mary, Mary Oliver, Pulitzer Prize winning Poet Mary Oliver, please. So I wrote her back and I said:

"Emily Dickinson wrote: 'Fame is a fickle food, Upon a shifting plate'"

And Mary Oliver wrote back "But what does that mean?"

And I wrote back "I thought you would know. I have no clue. But it's awesome! Emily Dickinson was one of the greats! A giant!"

And Mary Oliver wrote back "Totally!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My place among the birders

Though it is bitter and sometimes barren up here in Minnesota this time of year, the birds never disappear. There are always a few geese heading somewhere important in a small formation, low in the sky, honking as they go. The many crows are not mine to speak of this winter, but the astonishment of robins certainly were. Their rust bellied roosting in my neighborhood's trees, by the ten thousands, for two or three days, was a natural world event that burned a piece of love into my heart that will not soon dissolve.

Nevertheless, this winter the eagles went... somewhere. Living by the great Mississippi River Flyway I rarely go even a week or two without seeing some white-headed, sweet-hearted monster of a bird flinging about on the wilderness of air above me. But December went, and January went too, and though I was out along the river most of all those 62 days I didn't see a single Eagle.

Then, at the start of February, my wife and I crossed a local river bridge and plunged down a bike and walking path that cut through some woods. A fine bald eagle rose up to meet us, like as if we could have reached out and plucked him from the air. Our conversation, ever delightful, this one time dropped silent in mid sentence with the astonishment of the encounter. The bird wheeled up and away, leaving us with the brief and fabulous gift of itself.

Two days later I was walking alone to the University, and to work. I was on the river path, two or three miles north of where we had encountered that first bird, and there, a bald eagle again, swooping near and over me, rose up, said hello, so to speak, and headed out into the city.

Was this the same bird?

I think this was the same bird.

I have idly dreamed more than once of owning the birder's arsenal; the names of all the kinds of birds, something more than "There is a blue jay" or "There is a Robin". I have wanted to know the great scientific nomenclatures. "This is an American Avocet. This is Semipalmated Plover." But in that moment of seeing what was maybe the same eagle I had seen before, I had a deeper wish. I wished I had the names of the individual birds. I wished I could see to the pure individuality of each bird instead of their type. A cardinal in my yard can become, say, Theo, known to me in every detail and instantly recognized should I ever see him again. Each bird would be a whole story. Each bird would be its own name.

And this mighty and personable eagle who I will insist is just one bird because I want it to be and hope it is? If his name is not merely, along with all his kind, Bald Eagle, what will be his name?

I will call that bird Winter.