Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why I Dream About Birds

Recently a birding friend, Rob Fergus, shared a post entitled "Birding and Being" on his blog.  Rob and I met in Austin, TX about ten years ago, sharing untold hours birding, and talking about birds.  Even without that personal history, though - I get it.  I grok what Rob is writing about.  In the weeks since, I've reflected and meditated on how I would articulate what "birding and being" is like for me...

It is akin to that loss-of-self joy while fully engaged in community (especially spirtual) and family (especially with children).  I'm not sure life gets any better when all three are combined.  When birding, often I'm struck speechless with witnessing.  Miracles giving birth to miracles, moment after moment.  Any self-consciousness, and social graces all but collapse, forgotten.  I "ooo" and "ahh" and point and run and hop up and down, because my soul has been shaken and stirred.  While birding, I am finger-in-the-socket A...L...I...V...E, ALIVE!  In the presence of other birders experience this, my joy is magnified tenfold.  All this may sound exhausting: it isn't.  The prospect of a lifebird, or even the bird you've seen thousands of times (but not doing that, or in that light), sustains to the point that 8, 15, even 24 continuous hours of birding is appealing.  And, I would get up the next morning hungering to do it all over again.  

Swifts and swallows eating on the wing, hunting raptors carving the air, the penguins' paradox of masterful flight - underwater, owls' silent evening reign, the feathered tidal waves that are migration, shores lined with heron statues, the confounding of camouflage, the impossibility of hummingbirds, nuptial diplays of males and females, vocalizations that can haunt for their otherworldly beauty or otherworldly terror, the beyond-the-beyond splendor of all plumages, a "peep" from inside an egg before it has hatched... I could go on, and on, and on... and, undoubtedly, I will.  

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