Bird on a Wire

We used to have a road trip scavenger hunt. The idea was to check off items one might see out a car window. Stop sign, fuel truck, school, cows, that kind of thing. Whenever we played this game there was inevitably one item we could not find–a bird on a wire.

It was weird. It is not hard to see a bird on a wire most of the time. Even in winter there are birds and they are sometimes to be found on wires. But when we had that scavenger hunt in hand, and this happened many times, we could not find one. It became a joke in our family. We would be out walking in a new place, with no scavenger hunt list to check, and one of us would point and shout “Hey there’s a bird on a wire!”

I have not played that travel game in years but I still think of it, of those road trips, whenever I see a bird on a wire. I though of it today. After a day of way to much inside time, of too much computer work, of too little physical activity, I went outside with a pair of binoculars as the sun was setting. I didn’t have the binoculars to look at the setting sun. That would have been stupid. I had them to look at birds, were I to spot any. I did spot some. And one of them was on a wire.

Actually two of them were on a wire. Two bluebirds, singing their song that sounds like they are just too lazy to sing as boldly as anything like a Robin, flew onto and off of that wire. Blue birds against a blue sky with the low bright light of the closing of day in early spring–good stuff that. It was a beautiful sight and it was good to get outside and to move around a bunch and to listen and to look for our avian neighbors. And those birds, perched on that wire, reminded me of some good trips with my family.

I still think of that game when I see a bird on a wire while I am driving. I am not driving much these days. There is a chance I will do some driving tomorrow but that is still not a definite plan. I am staying home, along with the rest of the crew, most of the time. You know, stay home and stay safe. I mean, if I want to see a bird on a wire, apparently I can do that by walking down the road. No driving required.

Fall Sky at Day’s End

Walking a couple of nights ago, the sky put on a show. Steaks of pink and yellow and orange. I mean, damn. It kept getting better as we walked. We turned around and it kept getting better.

We were surrounded by loveliness. I know a gazillion people post sunset photos on Instagram. It’s a thing. Pictures of sunsets have been a thing for as long as color photos have been a thing.  Still, I took some photos and here they are. 

I guess they are a thing because a glorious sunset is amazing. Look at these photos, for god’s sake. Nice! And they don’t do any justice to the real thing. You’ve seen a sunset like this. I know you have. It is awesome in the real sense–it inspires awe. 

The leaves are starting to turn. The air is colder. This morning’s temperature was 37 degrees.  We had a fire outside last night. We watched the almost full moon over the gathering fog while the flames flickered. Gotta love fall.

This was the culmination of that sky. This is where I live. Not bad.

Dark Early

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Mid-November it gets dark early. I drove home tonight in the near-dark while the sun set in its rose-colored glory. The crescent moon hung lonely in the sky. Silhouettes of trees, bare branches reaching for the cobalt sky, lined up on the horizon.

Years ago I worked as an outdoor educator. We did group programming into November. On those late fall days we would be putting away equipment in the shed, sometimes struggling to see. The shed had no power but it did have a kerosene lantern that helped, if we cared to use it. We hung ropes and stored belay devices in the shadows, walking out into the twilight after a day outside, feeling the damp and the dark.

These days I spend much less time outside. That is too bad. I appreciated the world more then. I felt I was in the world more. Now I spend more time in windowless spaces and in cars than outside. The world ticks past without me in it. I step outside after a day with too much time at a desk or at a computer screen. I do not notice the leaves falling quietly onto hemlock needles as much as I did.

But I do see the world. I notice what I can. The sky was so beautiful this afternoon I had to stop my car, get out and look up at the moon. I wanted to see it without the window as filter. I wanted, if just for a moment, to be in the world. So I parked on the side of the road, near the top of a hill, and I looked west, the light fading, the darkness pulling the stars from their berths, and I simply stood there.