Natural history observations

21 Feb

Three bald eagles circle high overhead as I work in the garden, one lower down, feathers brown, a juvenile. Later they land in the cottonwoods across the road and chitter to one another like sparrows, only much more piercingly.

A young woman, thin, dressed only in light clothes, comes to us as we pack away the swim team’s food and asks for change so she and her girlfriend can get something to eat. She thanks us, wishes us blessings,and takes away her cheese, fruit, and cookies.

Several small formations of trumpeter swans wing across the sky above town from one field of sprouting greens to another, honking now and then, the sound of their wing beats just audible.

A man comes up to us in the hotel breakfast room and introduces himself, being from the same town, and has lots of interesting things to say, but after a few minutes we realize he doesn’t know how not to be the keynote motivational speaker. I’m sorry I naively introduced him to my father-in-law, thinking that as former teacher-coaches they’d enjoy getting acquainted. I have to go, nice meeting you, I say when his tone reaches the true believer pitch, and escape, as does my mother-in-law shortly after that. He gives my father-in-law his card and urges him to call to receive a free chapter of his new book, hundreds of proverbs on how to live an inspired life. He has eight hundred employees.

Three chestnut backed chickadees flit from one fir to another in front to the house, two in a fierce battle, swooping at one another and cheeping angrily, until one flies off, defeated, to seek another mate.

High school boy swimmers come in and breakfasting on waffles, sausage, cereal, preparing for today’s State competition. One, a friend of my son’s from another team, waves over at me. My lovely teen daughters sit down with us and work on their French toast. Suddenly the frequency of glances in our general direction triples.

The usual flocks of juncos pick at bits of composted vegetables and tidbits in the lawn. I can’t help but regard their visit as a special event, no matter how regular.

We drive into the packed parking lot as the previous event participants are starting to load up and leave.Competition for good parking spaces is high A bus and a van have blocked our access to the space being vacated ahead of us The driver and passenger of the van are oblivious as they peck letters into their cell phones, and someone comes from the other side and takes the spot.

Flickers, crows, our neighborhood flock of pigeons circle from their roost seemingly with no aim. Hawks on the power lines down in the valley, herons in the sloughs.Mallards and geese in the flooded flats.



Posted by on February 21, 2015 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “Natural history observations

  1. jdawgsrunningblog

    February 22, 2015 at 5:56 am

    The effect of the point-counterpoint implies a counter-intuitive reflection on value–further suggesting that the framed elements take precedence–so here, in effect, is a nod to the birds–and to you for this wondrous mix. Kudos on the letter to the editor—extremely well-written–too good for that newspaper.

    • toesinthedirt

      February 22, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      Thank you. I didn’t check that issue and didn’t know it was there. They added in “I believe” four times lest anyone should read it as established fact.

      • jdawgsrunningblog

        February 23, 2015 at 5:33 am

        They are ‘weird’—amateurish–an embarrassment to journalism—side note: I know of at least three middle school core positions open for next year–at least two at our school? What are you looking to teach?

      • toesinthedirt

        March 2, 2015 at 6:40 pm

        Thank you for the tip–I am staying very closely tuned for any position involving science or social studies.


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