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July 2018, vol 14 no 2

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Peter Newton


A friend I admire is an avid birder. Certain migratory species will draw her out into “the field” for days. I don’t know how she finds the time to spend so many hours peering through tiny binoculars happy at day’s end to have captured a glimpse. "All ready for the opera," she says.

the notes of its song

She’s a young person. I mean in her forties. And a writer herself. Maybe this whole birder thing is about unplugging, honing one’s observational skills. A kind of professional development. It could be about that or just being quiet I suppose, like I am now pecking away on the keyboard.

always the outlier
a conversation
among crows

I have heard the Baltimore oriole’s song, for example, once it was pointed out to me. How it twines the air into the most intricate melodic knots you could imagine. I have, stopped in traffic, rolled down my window to listen to its ornate message. A love note sung in calligraphy.

cold front
the chickadee
in its black cap

With all those hours of quiet song in one’s head there is no doubt a lot of time to think. About who we are. What we are. Where we are. The birds, I suspect, can just about tell us everything we need to know.

each of us
with one thing that’s ours