Sunday, February 26, 2006

And I saw a bird fly away...

I'll tell you the origin of today's post title right off the bat, because I don't know how many Dar Williams listeners are in the house. My beloved Brooklynite put me on to Dar Williams a few years ago by playing the wonderfully unsanctimonious life-after-death ditty "Alleluia" for me. In case this fact whets your appetite, know that "Alleluia" features a heavenly cafeteria that's going to drive the song's singer (not Dar W.; the kid she's created in the song) mad because "it looks just like a big Hawaiian party that my mother had." Also, the line "Don't be like me, forever young, forever stupid." It's a pretty excellent song. On The Beauty of the Rain (2003), Williams has a song called "I Saw a Bird Fly Away," and that's what I'm referring to.

Yesterday was a day of fourfold good times. My father hung around later than planned, so that I had a chance to show him off at the village coffee shop during breakfast (hilariously, one of my students from last year was there and, upon being introduced to my father, started telling him about how I am as a professor, proving that the impulse to compliment a person's children in order to make connections with that person upon first meeting him or her is not confined to faculty here). I then segued neatly into an afternoon of trying to do some work in tandem with somebody else but ending up being gifted, of all things, a new dartboard--because when someone says to you, "Let me buy you a dartboard," you say, "Right on," and you ride off to the next town with him, and you end up with a board not unlike this one. Lest anyone reading that sentence should think that I'm just an idiot, given the disastrous effects of my last experiment in dartboard ownership: know that some of the walls in this house are like rock and that I've already blunted the steel tip of one dart by missing the board. The walls are safe this time, and the floor will be covered appropriately in anticipation of those inevitable occasions when I will bounce darts right off the wall. Seriously. They bounce. I proceeded to lose a game of cricket, but just barely (two more hits in the bullseye and I'd have had it).

Following the departure of my Delaware friend, I had about ten minutes to get ready for a play. Following the play, I had about ten minutes to get ready for a facult
y/student affair that I can't really even talk about because it's so strange an event. By the time I got home at the end of the night (and threw darts until I finally hit a bullseye), I had done almost no work over the course of the day, which leaves me with a long stretch ahead of me before tonight's finale of my favorite show (and if you saw Thursday's episode, you know that Drew really should take it all, though he should also be publicly chastized for his idiotic response to a suggestion that he was ready for Brokeback Mountain: The Musical).

So, for yet another morning in a row, I woke up before my alarm rang, something that only really happens when I'm under one kind of stress or another. I padded down to the kitchen to make my coffee and bring it back up for some reading, and while I waited for the kettle to boil, I stared out the kitchen's patio door. Suddenly, a flash of blue scissored through the air and came to rest on the birdhouse in the backyard, and I realized I was looking at my first bluebird. This area has an active, widespread bluebird conservation program; driving around in the county, one sees bluebird boxes everywhere, once one knows to look for them. But I've never actually seen one of these birds. Their blue is terrifically surprising and absolutely unmistakable. It is not the gradated blue, cut with black and white, of the blue jay. It is a deeper version of the blue of good fountain pen ink. It is the color of the eastern sky about forty minutes after sunset. I'll let you think up further connections to this bird's coloring; those two are what I've got for now. The bird poked around at the birdhouse for a few minutes, then shot off to the south and disappeared.

Somehow, this bird felt like a revelation, though of what, I'm not sure. Excitingly enough, it seemed to be checking out the birdhouse, so I can only hope that (though the birdhouse is all wrong for bluebirds, as far as I understand their ideal nesting situations) the bird will return from its reconaissance mission and get some more bluebirds to come back with it. Perhaps this bird will be the city bird to its country cousins who are nesting down at the edge of the cornfield across the highway. I wouldn't mind watching that color slice and dip through my close proximity as we get closer to summer.

sources for today's images: 1) a link from somebody's LiveJournal; 2) Central Missouri State University's Nature Central; 3) Gasoline Alley Antiques.


Blogger ttractor said...

One of the highlights of my birthday weekend was seeing a red-headed woodpecker. Something so small, wild, perfect. yay for small happinesses.

7:23 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Oh, yes, the woodpeckers. I wanted to figure out a way to work into today's post the fact that I'm hearing woodpeckers *all the time* this week. They're everywhere, even though I can't see them. Here, they're known to attack car mirrors--or rather to attack "themselves" but actually to be attacking car mirrors. Every once in awhile one will hang out outside my office. Once, last fall, there was a pileated woodpecker out there, and that was an event, for sure.

7:41 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger four inches of ego said...

ah.. to be in gambier in the springtime. wait... isn't it a bit early for the birds to be coming back???

8:37 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger Poking-Stick Man said...

I like Dar Williams's song "The Babysitter" (at least I think that's what it's called). It perfectly captures the mixture of curiosity and excitement I always felt when the cool Babysitter from Up the Street would take care of me.

In the past few days, I have seen parrots, ibises, herons (of many kinds), anhingas, and enormous birds of prey. But I would give much to see a wintry bluebird or woodpecker.

9:04 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous stepanova said...

I love reading that you, like me, boil water to make coffee.

Good to hear you a nice time with your dad in town.

(Gotta go -- time for another cup of Nescafe.)

9:07 AM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Oh yes, I am drinking the Nescafe right now. Actually, the Taster's Choice, which sells as Gold Blend in other countries. I believe I've told this story before, but I'll surely tell it again.

9:08 AM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger ttractor said...

you are drinking what?! for crying out loud, at least have the dignity to not admit it! god, now I have to be ashamed for you as well as being ashamed for myself. I hit a benchmark in lowness today--I cut a vanilla "meal supplement" with bad office coffee, and that was breakfast. oh, I cringe and burn.

11:48 AM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger starkitty76 said...

I don't know you at all, but I think your writing is quite fantastic.

9:59 AM, February 28, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

@four inches of ego: Yes, I think it's a bit early for the birds to be flitting quite as much as they are. But if you read back into the posts, you'll see me worrying over this for months--and yet the birds seem to be doing okay.

@stepanova and ttractor: Yes, we drink instant coffee. I'd be willing to bet that Step (like me) also appreciates a fine cup of real, excellent coffee--I would take a cup of strong Turkish coffee, the kind brewed with sugar, any morning, if I had someone here plying me with morning delights. But I do actually like Taster's Choice; when I started drinking coffee daily, I was living in England, and there was no way I was going to buy a coffee maker and use it just for the year (since I was 19 and broke). I tried all the Nescafe instant offerings and got attached to Gold Blend. Years later, after so many of my friends had "imported" Gold Blend in their luggage on return trips from England and elsewhere, I discovered that GB is available here--just as Taster's Choice. It's cheap, it's satisfying, and I can get back into bed within about five minutes of getting out, on the coldest mornings. So, yes, I will admit to it (though no arrogance--to each her own, no?).

@starkitty76: Thank you for the compliment!

10:11 AM, February 28, 2006  

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