A Scudding Cloud Of Sparrows
Birds have been on my mind a lot lately. Perhaps the unseasonably mild spring weather here in the Upper Left Hand Corner has made their presence somehow more distinct than usual. Normally at this time of year, when the skies lean toward what author Tom Robbins once described as (and I paraphrase), "clouds like giant hydrocephelate brains, colored the gray of curdled cottage cheese dragged through the mud", most birds tend to hunker down in the treetops, or under eaves, or inside any tiny space that will keep them dry. Only the seagulls seem unburdened by the gloom and drizzle, perhaps because, scavengers that they are, they alone have developed a genetic disposition to endure the inclement conditions, knowing there will be far less competition for the soggy scraps of offal that float on the rain spattered surface of the lake.
But recently, the feathered denizens of our community have been out in full force: yesterday, I nearly stepped on a Mallard hen sleeping on the dock next to my boat. In my early morning, pre-shower, pre-coffee haze, I saw her only has a mottled brown lump of something resembling a large fungus plopped down on the wooden planks. No doubt she didn't appreciate the comparision, and told me so in no uncertain terms.
Every afternoon, dozens of sparrows congregate above our docks, flitting above and through the rigging of the moored boats with daredevil prowess, engaged in an hour's long game of aerial tag right before sunset.
At 3:00 a.m., when I'm wide awake and suffering from a bout of acid reflux severe enough to make me wonder if this is how John Hurt's character felt right before that spawn of a face-hugger burst through his peritineum, I hear the plaintive sqawk of a heron as it passes overhead on its nocturnal promenade.
Crows and gulls often act as my alarm clock, cawing and screeching in a parody of the morning rush-hour commute as they home in on the various dumpster locations around my building, searching for tasty tid-bits from last night's restaurant refuse.
Drakes, heads covered with irridescent billiard green feathers, often accompanied by hens with a half dozen peeping hatchlings following behind will paddle up to my boat, hoping to grift me out of some shreds of tortilla or scraps of day-old hotdog buns.
Soon, the Canadian Geese will make an appearance, announcing their arrival with airhorn bursts as they glide in perfect airshow squadron formation for a landing on the green swatches at the south end of the lake.
And then I'll know -- Summer is just around the corner.
on 9:30 AM