Thursday, July 31, 2008

Urban Nature: That Rarest Bird

the elusive pie-eyed bluefarb
(click image for larger view)

This morning, not twenty feet from the kitchen window, a pie-eyed bluefarb (PEB) sat preening in our pear tree.

Why it picked our yard, I can't be sure. In a fair world, a just world, a visitation like this would only fall upon the a lifelong ornithologist with a passion for this bird, not some mid-town schmuck like me, whose bird-savviness ends with "robin" and "hawk," and who only happens to know anything about the PEB vicariously, through snips and scraps of someone else's bird-lore.

Maybe the rumor's true that the PEB is part sprite, and fond of irony. Any rate, this time the irony was in my favor, so I don't plan to raise a stink about it.

And I sure won't complain that I manged to come away with the photo above. Imperfect as this shot certainly is, I'm happy with it. Having just looked online, it is thrilling -- if perhaps a little presumptuous -- to think this might indeed be the clearest image of the pie-eyed bluefarb in existence. At any rate, nothing much has come up after several Google queries.

This much, though, is sure: while regrettably I wasn't able to get in any closer, or pull off a completely unobstructed shot (damn that leaf!) , it's clear that this is, indeed, the Bird Itself. Nothing else comes close to that remarkable shade of indigo, that seemingly translucent sheen. I was able to snap the shutter only once more before the bluefarb was gone, and frankly it's a terrible shot -- just a tiny blur of blue glass as that mysterious bird, startled by my intrusion, took wing and shot out eastbound across our neighbor's garden.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nature Photography

Human Nature Photography

Where there's a trail, there's always a Pringles can.

Then, the perfunctory gripe.

To that extent, yesterday was no exception.

And yet, yesterday, as in recent years, something of the fervor was gone. Or, more to the point, my griping lacked the drama it once had. As a teen and early tween, I was ready to respond at hair-trigger speed whenever the beast encroached upon beauty.

Simply put, lately the hell is gone. I'm novacained.

Walking past a whole nest of garbage at the trail head yesterday, I felt no theatric indignation at all. Instead, there was only a thin, dull ache, and a mental note to self that yet another processed corn product has proclaimed its flavors "Extreme."

Environmentalist Bill McKibbon has written about this dull ache before -- though to McKibbon's credit, his own is clearly sharper, deeper, and more ubiquitous than mine. To illustrate this ache, he recounts the experience that most of us have had at one time or another. Remember: you sat on a mountainside; everywhere you turned, you saw a vista unmarred by human hands; above, a hawk idled; the only sound was wind and stillness.

Wind, stillness. And the distant grumble of a chainsaw, somewhere down the valley.


However perfect and otherwise "pure" this mountainside moment may have been, however far our minds ached to drift across an untouched landscape beyond (that is, prior to) the curse of human ingenuity, there is always that faint, chuggering whine from down the valley. For McKibbon, there's hardly a place left on earth where we can escape that sound. Now that the Wise Species has marred even our climate, the Arctics themselves are dwindling safe-havens from the sound of ourselves.

Put a Pringles can up to your ear like a conch. Can you hear the motors droning?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My own Ring of Mordor, Mama, you are mine. How I ache to lick your teeth, your gums, the insides of your nostrils! Though you tease me in our lover's game, feigning rapt attention to the noisy picturebox, my little fawn, even now you must confess it: your restraint is overtaxed, and like my bladder at four a.m., you will soon hold back no longer. Kiss me. How I love your captivating breath,

your slender, snack-dispensing fingers, your wails of protest when the Competition oafishly demotes me to the foot of your bed. Someday he and the Big Black Dog will leave us at last, and then I will have you; yea, I will rest upon your bosoms like the Beloved Disciple of Christ.