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Friday, September 21, 2012

August 16, 2012 - North Common Meadow, Petersham, MA - Sunny, cool - 7:36 am-8:46am



First off, I have to apologize for my attempted poetics in this post. I have to confess that I've been reading way to much Ray Bradbury of late. I think all the Bradbury fans out there will sympathize with my current effusive writing syndrome. 

The pipits skipped over the turf, tails wagging to the rhythm stepped out by their dainty, pink feet. Their cheerful faces breached the emerald tufts of newly mowed grass, only to sink, smartly, back down into grassy depths. The day was cool, skies forgiving, the grass still glistening with a thousand dew-drop jewels, and at that moment I was enjoying one of the worlds most exhilaratingly peaceful pastimes: birding!

At first the distant brown blobs were mistaken for shorebirds. Still suffering from the shorebird deliriums of late summer, my first guess to their identity liberally encompassed a wide group of meadow stocking species; the Buff-breasted, White-rumped, Baird's and Pectoral Sandpipers plus maybe a few smaller peeps. It was with dejection that I watched this first beautiful thought shatter, only to see the shards, so recently a mixed flock of shorebirds, morph into the crisp forms of three, sprightly pipits.

They bustled back and forth over the waves of grass, occasionally snatching up an insect, seemingly unaware of their bipedal watcher. They were, I am happy to inform, my second, third and fourth pipits seen since time began, an eternity ago, and more recently: me.

The brittle scent of fall was in the air as were the vocalized chips of dull-plumaged warblers. My legs started chugging and again I was moving. Passed my face in a swiftly flowing river of green, gold, blue and a VanGogh-ian rainbow of other colors, swept on life. A Chestnut-sided Warbler ... now a yellowthroat ... fades into a the gray of phoebe ... no more phoebe but now a flock of grackles holds my gaze, their cackling, bends and twists until ... no longer harsh but the ringing call of the Red-shouldered Hawk, that mingles until indistinguishable from the cries of the Pileated Woodpecker. 

I stop, take photo of a tree, and see a chickadee. Next a nuthatch and the whisper of a waxwing. Above me floats a sleeping swan, a billowing leviathan, below the scudding white, go crows and goldfinches their voices playing with the silence of the cloud in clear, sharp, beautiful contrast.

The cloud coats the world in a cool, gentle shadow. It swallows the meadow, engulfs the birds, the insects vanish with the coming of the adumbration.

The cloud is gone, back to its fairy realm it drifts, with it die the avian voices and I find myself back at the steps of our house, hearing not the woodpecker but the family behind the doors. Just in time for breakfast!