Monday, January 16, 2012

A Boy Among Birds

A little background on birds and me:  Grew up in a very southwest Ann Arbor, Michigan, rural house surrounded by very old apple trees. The open fields and woodlands nearby were parts and parcels of old farms, one of which was platted as "Keck's Corners", bordering the east and west sides of Wagner road. Still dirt covered when I started my wandering days as a curious young boy of 5 years old, itching to get close to every wild bird around my house. There were plenty of birds to choose from too. These encounters of joy with birds helped me escape the harsher disciplines exacted on my skin by a harsh father, who was a very stern exacter of things to be done exactly his way or else there would be stares and quick punishment. There would be a whole lot of shaking me up. All a bit much for a sensitive young lad.
If there was one strong physical presence around my boyhood home that I looked up to, it was a giant monarch apple tree direct in front of our front porch. This unmovable botanical wonder became my most desirable place of refuge spring, summer, and fall.  In winter I viewed the tree's hulking frame primarily from our large living room picture window where wild bird activities were abundant and worth watching. A front row seat to view the bird behavior of everything from hawks to hummingbirds. On one remarkable winter day after a severe winter storm I was able to be eye-to-eye with a Sharp-shinned hawk when it flew remarkably swift on top of the snow-covered border shrub directly below my face-to-the-glass view. I will never forget that fierce and untamed stare in those bright red eyes. We were only a few inches apart.

That rare encounter would mark similar longings for more in the years to come.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

One of Those Storms

It was one of those muggy hearing-a-pin-drop kind of July afternoons that come regularly into southern Michigan just about every summer. But all too quickly it changed. I was witness to the rumbling and darkening pea-green elements of the southwestern sky, conjuring up a boiling mess of wind and rain  and hurling it across the lake we call home to in a wave-mounding and water-lifting effort the likes of which one rarely expects. I suddenly caught sight of two very slim dark-headed figures slicing their way with heads up into that mess.

They were swallows in the storm.

Not fifty yards away two adult tree swallows were finding some sort of excitement winging it into the full fury of tornado winds?  Had to rub my eyes a few times. How could they? Even looking like they were enjoying the whole thing! I was almost ecstatic to have a dry front row seat in time to enjoy viewing this grand theatrical performance. They made it look so easy. I really wanted to try joining them, sharing the excitement of swirling  through a real butt-whipping storm.

A very,very impressive performance not to be forgotten.

Here I Go With Birds Again

Among all the wild and domestic groups of animals within our visual boundaries of land, water, and sky, we usually delight in shake-head watching first the flight abilities among the most elevated animal group of all: BIRDS OF THE AIR. Birds that fly around, by, and above us. Words of any kind quite simply fail to fully articulate the flight capabilities of birds and all the wonder and all the envy that ability evokes and inspires us to express in our limited ways. Next to having the gift of life with all its promises and failures, watching all the motions of birds in the air is a gift of freedom every true human should fully relish and carefully cherish within and without by sharing such precious moments through writing, speaking, some way preserving this monumental treasure to be found all over our shared earth place.

Every day in endless ways countless references are made about birds for better or for worse; and as each day dawns millions upon millions of creatures of the avian kind take flight as we rise also and take notice wherever we may be. Our ongoing relationships with birds of all kinds should never be understated.  So here I go again proclaiming what we homosapiens usually fail to acknowledge as being so important to our lives and to the overall wonder of just being alive enough to enjoy the best of birds.  Come share all that wonder with me right here, right now before we forget just how awesome it all is.

Why is it that we need birds so much? Truth is, we can't really escape their impact, literal or any other way. They are just too important too ignore even if we continue living in boxed-up worlds and denying the freedom we so envy in birds. Upcoming posts will explore some of the diverse ways that question is answered, for better or for worse. There is a fundamental joy in being in the presence of most birds one cannot deny.