Monday, May 3, 2010

May 3: Conclave

My mom and I sat out on her deck after work today, enjoying the gusty warm wind driving the clouds over the river. Clouds and big patches of blue marbled the sky. Wind rushed and sussed through leaves budding in many shades of bright green along the water. The air was as muggy as a summer afternoon before a rainstorm. Somewhere in the woods across the road, a snapping turtle the size of a dinner plate was laying her eggs.

Above us in the trees the blackbirds and grackles were holding a conclave. My mom says they gather every morning and every evening, just hanging out making a racket together. The blackbirds were particularly vocal, their buzzy trilling songs wafting down from on high. Every now and then the flock would fly across the lawn into a pine tree, the grackles standing out in silhouette because of their larger size and vertical, rudder-like tail. Then they'd fly back. Mostly they just perched there together, all facing in the same direction, a small flock of black birds making all manner of companionable squeaks, chucks, and squawks. Males awaiting females. Not much different than a bunch of guys hanging out in a bar. As the sun sank lower, a peeper joined in the chorus. A vulture swooped by on a gust of wind. Doves cooed softly.

There are few things more relaxing than just sitting by the water, watching birds with my mom.

As I drove away, I hadn't gotten far down the road when I saw a black shape in front of my car: a snapping turtle. I stopped, put on the hazard lights, then found a stick to try to push her across, to hurry her along. That had the opposite effect, as she turned and jumped, snapping at the stick/me. I went to Mom for help, but she said turtles cross the road here all the time and that this one would be fine. Sure enough, my mother knew best. As we watched, the turtle hustled across the road and continued into the woods on the water side--what she'd been trying to do all along.

At my mother's house
blackbirds converse with grackles,
turtles safely pass.

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