Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A season taking flight #phenology

Late morning, returning from doing some errands, I saw a flock of five Canada geese flying close formation. Goose, gander, three goslings doing a pre-migration training flight. Mia McPherson's On the Wing photography blog has a nice posting today, including some stunning photos, in which she writes about the calls of Canada geese signaling seasonal change.

almost all grown up goslings
almost all grown up goslings
Photo by J. Harrington

More and more splashes of scarlet have appeared in sumac shrubs. Local big bluestem grasses have developed their "three-toed turkey foot" seed heads. Sandhill crane families are showing up in more and more shady yards instead of in the middle of wetlands.

Bluebirds and hummingbirds are still around. Peaches are still available at the nearest big box grocer and thunderstorm clouds are starting to tower for this afternoon or tomorrow. Signs that Summer isn't yet ready to retire, although I'm grateful for the respite from August's all too frequent humid, hot days. Last night, and the night before, humidity was evident in mists arising from the local ponds under a waxing, gibbous moon that cast moon shadows all over our gravel road as we gave the dogs their early morning walks.

bluebird perched on pine candle
bluebird perched on pine candle
Photo by J. Harrington

I think that, while I've been typing this, the bluebird nestlings have become fledglings and started their own practice flights as they hover over the nesting box and land on nearby fences and the brush pile's branches. What a wonderful day this has shaped up to be, even though it literally means that, once again, we'll soon be empty nesters until next Spring.

                     Nurture



From a documentary on marsupials I learn
that a pillowcase makes a fine
substitute pouch for an orphaned kangaroo.

I am drawn to such dramas of animal rescue.
They are warm in the throat. I suffer, the critic proclaims,
from an overabundance of maternal genes.

Bring me your fallen fledgling, your bummer lamb,

lead the abused, the starvelings, into my barn.
Advise the hunted deer to leap into my corn.

And had there been a wild child—
filthy and fierce as a ferret, he is called
in one nineteenth-century account—

a wild child to love, it is safe to assume,
given my fireside inked with paw prints,
there would have been room.

Think of the language we two, same and not-same,
might have constructed from sign,
scratch, grimace, grunt, vowel:

Laughter our first noun, and our long verb, howl.


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