Irate Vireo

“One misty moisty morning,

When foggy was the weather,

I chanced to meet a new bird

Clothed all in feathers…”

And so it was, in the soggy aftermath of Tropical Storm Beta. While walking past the dense dark green of the magnolia outside our kitchen window for probably the 26,280th time (twice a day times 365 days per year times 36 years) I heard an unfamiliar cry.  I stopped, eyes trained on the tree, watching for telltale movement.  First I spied the cause—a blue jay, guilt written all over his hasty flight. Ignoring his departure, I kept watching.  Ah!  A bird new to me, gray above, whitish below, about 6 inches long. Unmistakable eye line.  Something in my poet-soul said, “Vireo.”  Something in my scientist-soul said, “Let’s not be hasty.” Half-confident, I went to my Sibley guide and scanned the Vireo section.  And there it was: Red-eyed Vireo. Sometimes poets just know. And science refines the knowing. Wonderful!

David Allen Sibley says that when agitated the red-eyed vireo says “rreea.”  Hmmm. Was that what I heard? I mean, what does rreea even sound like?

Next I checked Cornell’s online site. What Sibley calls “rreea” Cornell describes like this:

“A loud, catbird-like myaah call punctuates many social interactions. Both sexes use it to emphasize warning displays toward potential predators or interlopers.”

 I’m pretty confident now in my ID, not least because when I heard the outcry I thought of a remark my dusky darling catbirds might make. But more pointed. “Myaah!  Take that, you dang interloping potential predator blue jay!”

But wait, there’s more to say about the social language of the red-eyed vireo:  “Males and females sometimes snap their bills in flight as they swoop at intruders and predators.”

“I warn, I swoop, I SNAP my bill at you!” This much is clear: You don’t want to get on the wrong side of a red-eyed vireo.

If, however, you want to see how pretty they are, and hear their good-mood song, check out this link:

Morning by Morning

Sometimes it takes a direct question from a faraway friend: “How’s it going?” Lately, I’ve wondered. Beyond the occasional Terminator-like computer scan of my systems to make sure I’m still viable, I really couldn’t say. Have never traversed such strange times, that’s for sure.

But Melissa asked, so to honor the question, I gave it some thought. How’s it going? Well, it looks like TS Beta may bring the Texas coast some big rain, which I wish would fall on the wildfires out west. With states further to our east beginning Sally-recovery, post-Laura Louisianians are still waiting for power. RBG has laid down her lawbooks. Sigh. Did you see the movie about her? 

Ah, a shift to the blessing side!

But, how’s it going with YOU, my dear girl, hyperresponsible for the world? What are YOUR blessings? If you DID know, what would they be?

Well, my Sunday school iMovie this week is good if I do say so, not least because it’s a collaboration with an insightful photographer friend. If you’re interested in such things, here’s the link:

My circle of care are all well.

Hmm, what else? Yesterday a man showed me the inside of a yellow schoolbus he’s rigged up as a kind of traveling den. To date I’ve only ever seen the outside, parked in his driveway.    The inside is a marvel of craftsmanship, repurposing of found wood, furnishings, etc. AND he has several bongo drums in it. Which he says he plays.  Like so many things, who knew?? He kept apologizing that it was messy. I had insufficient words for how cool it was and how little I cared about the alleged messiness. Outside the bus along its east side he has containers of black-eyed pea vines growing on trellises. He gave me some dried peas to plant at my house, just for fun. (And better luck for 2021??)

Then, as I was driving home, I saw a duck and her child in a front yard.  Rolled down the window to take a picture, could hear her whistling to beat the band!  That’s because she’s a Black Bellied Whistling Duck (aka Tree Duck, so named because they like to perch and nest in trees.)  I don’t know if she was lecturing the one or calling for its siblings — they usually have a passel of chicks.

As I wrote these blessings to Melissa, I got to thinking they should be circulated more widely. So, here you go!

All Tuckered Out

Born some time ago, physical strength not what it was, 

I can still help the cause by worrying.  

I got awfully tired this week. 

Note to self:  “With cycles and circles we must abide.”  

And so it’s Sunday again, 

and I thought to abide by sitting outside 

in the ‘hush of nature newly born.’ 

Made the mistake of bringing the newspaper with me. 

Then, as if to counter the killing headlines, the usual suspects began to appear. 

I had nothing to give them—not worry, not wisdom, not even a smile.

But smiles came:

Scruffy mocker, singing to himself.

Cardinal family, conferencing in the bottlebrush.

Carolina chickadees, unruffled at my close proximity to their feeder.

Jays zipping overhead.

Flash of woodpecker, then a long beak just visible.

Boisterous wren-song, glimpse of a narrow secretive head.

Tentative tail-wag of a white-wing.

Mystery warbler, evoking faint stir to go get the bird book.

Call it dereliction, but I did not go get the bird book.

“And in my hour of darkness She is standing right in front of me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be”

I thought of baby Shep, pulling up, practicing his scrunched up smile and royal wave, of his angel sister who got in trouble for throwing a plastic ball at his head—she is after all only two—and did she cry because she was corrected, or because she’s connected?  May we all grow in wisdom and grace. God bless us, every one.