I couldn’t quite capture the two red birds sitting on the white branch of the birch but I was happy to capture these winged creatures with their various hues.
A curious little bird by the Charles River. When I passed it the first time, and even moved in close, it did not fly away. And when I returned along the same path, there it remained ready for its next close up.
“Would you like some cold water?” he asked as I walked away.
“No but thank you,” I said. “I’m just fine.”
“It’s unopened,” he added as he pulled the gallon jug from the white shopping bag. “You can have the first sip.”
“Thanks. I’m good. You take care, ” I said and waved good-bye to the man I’d met in the woods.
In my previous two posts, I shared images of nature near an office park. I’ve photographed there several times over the years. It is a meandering site with clusters of brick office buildings with each cluster surrounded by asphalt parking spaces. A few small landscaped gardens grace the entrances of some clusters or at least they have regularly mown lawns. And then connecting these manicured areas is just enough almost-wildlands, that are just wild enough to attract rabbits, foxes, deer and even the errant coyote. But mostly it is a haven for birds.
When I visit, I am usually in the company of my partner. He heads into one of the office buildings to check on a piece of equipment. I take my camera and wander the periphery of the parking lot. I look up into the trees, I scan the gullies to see how the sunlight is falling on the water and then I come to an iron gate. The gate is reminiscent of the ones you see on farms, more for keeping large animals at bay and not so much for stopping people.
I slip past the gate and determine whether I am going to go left and make my way up the gravelly path through the more heavily thicketed and treed area or if I will go right into a more meadowy area that becomes marshlands after a good rain. But this time the meadow was completely overgrown and too full of prickly plants for me to venture there, so I made my way up the gravel path.
This area too was overgrown. In times past I had been able to easily step off the path into the underbrush, not only to photograph wildflowers and animals but also to see what mischief local teens had been up to. You see, the gravel path ends with another iron gate and that gate abuts a small road and a residential area. With what I was wearing, and my lack of bug spray, I had decided not to step off the path that day. I made it to the second iron gate photographing what I could. The birds were singing so loud. I stopped to stare up into the trees. And that’s when I noticed the man slip past the iron gate onto the gravel path.
He hobbled along on two crutches and in one hand he also held a white plastic bag. He seemed dressed rather warmly for a day in the 90s, in his sweater and jacket and long pants. He wore white socks with his well-worn sandals. He moved very deliberately and slowly. As he came nearer, the dappled light caught in the silver of his blonde hair. He had a dark tan but as he came closer I could tell with a good shower he might become just a bit paler.
I smiled in greeting. I’ve been warned I should stop doing that so readily, but I felt no fear as he nodded in reply and then paused to say, “Birdwatching, eh? Seen any cardinals yet? I used to be able to sing their song.” After licking his lips, he began to whistle and when he got to the tweet, tweet, tweet I could genuinely exclaim, “Oh, yes, I know that sound.”
He hesitated, blue eyes darting about, and then said, “Well, okay, good luck.” He continued down the path moving just a bit faster than a snail. I stalled a bit, keeping an eye on him, and then I too began to walk down the path. I caught up with him. I had every intention of passing him so that I could continue my photographic journey in another area. But as I came up to his side he began to talk to me. Random stuff about the birds to be found in the area and during which seasons.
At some point I asked, in part to test an assumption forming in my mind, “Is this path a short cut for you?”
He said, “Oh, yes. This is a great short cut down to the Target.”
Having been to that Target, I didn’t think his statement was true but I said nothing.
He filled the silence quite eloquently.
In the course of our long walk down this short path, this gentleman would share from beginning to end in actually exquisite detail the plot of the 1950s movie, Harvey. He would share highlights from half a dozen academic and literary works that I only knew about because I’d seen their titles while browsing in the Harvard COOP bookstore. In one moment he would be talking about Kierkegaard and in the next about the Cedar Waxwing.
“You are quite the philosopher, sir.”
He shrugged. “Well, that’s what I studied at MIT along with physics.” I didn’t ask him in what year or if he finished. Later, around that subject, he would mumble something about “things happened.”
We made it to the parking lot. Maybe because he knew I would not be there much longer, he began to talk faster, telling me his name, and about his not-so-nice father who had been a famous chemist, stuff about religion. The light became too bright in his eyes on that subject so at that point I knew I needed to end the conversation.
“I need to rest,”he said and eased himself down on the curb.
“Well, nice to meet you. I’m off to photograph birds.”
As I walked away, that’s when he asked if I’d like some cold water.
I took a circuitous route through the office park that brought me back to his location. He was no longer there. I suspect he made his way back into the thicket where he likely has a spot. I think that had been his original intention, with his jug of cold water, until he came upon a small brown woman photographing birds in his woods.
There were nearly as many birdwatchers as baby birds at the Belle Isle Marsh this weekend. And I’m not sure the birds were pleased.
I thought I’d take a moment to say thank you. Thank you for viewing this blog. Thank you for the comments that I don’t always respond to but I read and enjoy every one. And most of all thanks for the support and encouragement on this creative journey. Have a wonderful day. 😉
Posted in Inspiration, Nature Notes, tagged birds, birdwatching, hawk, hunting, Inspiration, nature, Photography, pigeon, predators, storytelling, telephone pole, urban landscape, wildlife on February 11, 2015| 5 Comments »
To be honest, I was trying to photograph a rooftop icicle. I was playing around with the camera zoom when a distant shadow caught my attention. It was a hawk landing on top of a telephone pole with a pigeon in its grip.
There were people walking around below, and big vehicles scooping up the snow, but no one ever looked up. And so over the next two hours the hawk dined, unbothered, until nothing was left of its dinner.