The birds of summer, and the aliens.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher Perched, by Kalen Malueg

I turned 29 two days ago and allowed myself to spend most of my time celebrating and zero time blogging. I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about two good friends who are working on bringing a little baby into the world, a tiny bundle with limbs, toes, fingers and eyes, currently tucked inside of one of them but in position to be popping out anytime in the next few days. LIFE. LIFE IS CRAZY. And yes, I did just drink up a bit of a carafe of the house red at Santarpio’s over a brilliantly multi-cheesed pizza but, wow, you don’t need to be tipsy to consider the wild possibilities within every single wilderness. Like a baby in a uterus waiting to blossom out into the air, away from a life lived within fluid heat, a body lived within a woman, to quake and crack and squeeze out into a world of wind and breeze and bad jokes and optimism and everything grim. Life.

Briefly:

20th A belted kingfisher! It was perched along the little dog house that my boss made into a duck house. We no longer have ducks but their home continues to float along the pond. This is the first creature that I’ve seen using it, and I crept up lose to the bird when I realized its beak was way too wonderful to be anything but a kingfisher’s. It flew off shortly after I began stepping toward it, landing in a pondside tree and twittering a rattle at me and whatever else nearby.

21 The barn swallow that keeps clutching the wire above the bike rack, greeting me in silence as I pedal into work.

22 The anniversary of my birth. I spent a lot if time sweeping and breathing in heaven knows what. Dust mites! The remains of dust mites! Pieces of parking lot that blow in the screens and open doors! A lot of dirt. Dark lungs.

23 The drive-by-botanizing has lately been taken over by goldenrod. Everywhere. That margarine-colored golden assemblage of roadside blossoms strikes up in the most unexpected places. This includes random parking lots and sidewalk pockets.

24 I drank my morning genmaicha whilst watching a show in which Stephen Hawking discussed a fraction of the possibilities regarding life–and, terrifyingly, intelligent life–elsewhere in the universe. I also saw a beautiful mallow on a street corner. As I photographed it a man with a heavily scraped face suggested that he, Matt, and I go into crime together. Shoplifting, he suggested, adding that our movie star looks would help get the job done right. “We’ll think about it!”, we said. mallow

Random mallow by yours, truly.

Looks and Gazes

purslane

Common Purslane (Portulaca oleracea). Source: Wikipedia

I gazed at starlings pecking across the grass beside motorous Washinton Street, next door to Forest Hills Station. It’s always my favorite place to watch the little, iridescent things. They skitter around, bright-eyed and yellow-beaked, grazing in the grass like rabbits.

At work a tiny toad scampered between our feet as we weeded purslane from pea gravel. I watched a red-tailed hawk glide down the sky.

Then there were the humans. A beggar on Mass Ave who could imitate a duck to perfection. The sweet teller who complimented Kira and I on our braids, hers French, mine Swedish. Roofers in life-saving suspenders kicking debris from concrete-colored shingles. Lastly, the operator within the bulldozer knocking out a building of dust along the Neoponset. I’d never know of the deconstruction if not for the lone spectators draped over the Fairmount bridge every morning, staring wistfully at the shovel as it hit the walls and ceilings, the metal and brick and plastic, while someone from below would hose down the dusty din with the arching water of a fireman’s truck.

Saturday Silflay

watership down

A robin pranced around the skullcap patch.

I cut a bouquet of hydrangeas and found a cricket, its antennae at least as long as its narrow, translucent body.

A mockingbird again snacked in the elderberry.

Half a dozen rabbits enjoying a good silflay throughout the gardens and slim meadows of the Fens.

Also, I don’t want to be too redundant, but I somehow woke, right around four thirty, without a bit of cricket, katydid, or conehead in my ear. Was it too cold? Or were they merely weary?

The velvet, breezy, bizarre din of wings

katydid

Common True Katydid, courtesy of bugguide.net.

In the day the cicadas continue to drone on, offering their squeaking moans at once and for hours, turning the neighborhood to hazy, humid white noise that surrounds and fills you completely–your ears, your clothes, your skin, your gut.

In the night, however, I keep waking, wondering about the racket pulsing around me. It takes a few seconds before I realize and remember: crickets. Fascinatingly loud, percussive and choral, they strew the night with rhythms. Their steady, nearly flute-like notes carry the background as the various katydid soloists rasp at the air. One common true katydid claws KAY TEE DID with his forewings, another one answers, KAY TEE DID, usually with a touch of overlap, a little bit higher or lower than the first. Their cousins, the sword-bearing coneheads, tst-tst-tst through the night, starting at twilight, and broad-winged bush katydids start their tzeet-tzeet quietly before letting them go unleashed, roaring loudly into the night. 

And now, lists.

squirrel

Marvelous squirrel on loan from Maximo Alaez

Wednesday: 

The blue heron billowing across the sky in the morning.

An osprey, flying above us as we greeted a friend just returned home. Never thought I’d see one of them in Boston, but there it was, its wings bending like elbows as it traveled toward the Arboretum or toward the sea. Apparently sightings of them aren’t quite so rare as I’d thought.

I picked several pounds of elderberries at the garden and in-between the branches found a mockingbird giving me a Look.

Thursday:

While brushing my teeth I crept into the kitchen to find the crazed squirrel that’s been trying to live indoors for the last few months. It scratched at the metal screen and hardly moved as I shooed and cussed it away. It finally left when I really got in its face, waving my toothbrush around like a fourth-rate wand.

Friday:

I thought that Moby Dick, my beloved snail of nearly two years, was dead, but then Matt pointed out that he/she wasn’t. As a reward for its liveliness I offered it a thick twig chartreuse with lichen.

The wilderness without and within

house sparrow

The majority of the nature experienced today was tangled in all of the wild hormones within, riling my uterus and, you know, my outlook on all things. 

There were also the house sparrows at work, hopping and cocking their inchy heads, going after a gummy on the floor and the birdseed on display. I fought them without violence, clapping my hands and ineffectively kicking away the gummy which moved slow, sticking with tenacity to the cement floor.

I also found some funky, Mardi Gras costume-wearing, mantis-like creature in the sacred basil during the morning harvest. And I was sucked on by mosquitoes. Lastly, I found a cabbage moth in the greenhouse and a green caterpillar, dead and composed halfway of orange slime, also in the sacred basil. Amazing that so much life, death, and violence can exist within the juicy branches of such a holy plant.

Points North Ahoy!

cormorant

I’m on a little getaway with the boo so I’m probably going to keep pretty quiet on the blog front for the next few days. I kept a count in my mind of what I found yesterday, but fell asleep (this time during “Shark Week”–hoorah for airbnb cable!!) before I could jot it down. So a day late:

Boston:

Even more tiger swallowtails, gliding from one hydrangea to the next.

Gloucester:

Cormorants, three deep. “Hunters,” said Matt.

A million gulls. We kept thinking that we were hearing abandoned kids or fighting drunks but, in all but one occasion outside the police station, they were always birds, crying and calling and moaning in that weird, gullish way.

Plenty of common milkweed in parking lots and front yards. Not a monarch to be seen, but plenty of bright orange aphids.

A deer just standing around in the tree trunks on the outskirts of town.

Clam shells everywhere.

Mussels and clams IN MY FACE at the best seafood joint in town, Causeway. Mmm.

A crazy story from Mike, the guy sitting next to us at Causeway, about a right whale in the Marblehead cove that sidles his backyard. The whale was his neighbor for a week.

Also other stuff having little to do with things nonhuman, like the iconic sculpture of the Gloucester fisherman and his eyes that make me want to cry and also make me want to live better and also make me want to write more poems and Finally finish Moby Dick.

fisherman memorial face

See you in a few days!

The List

Catbird
Rabbits half the size of my fist
An invisible redtail
Jousting mockingbirds in the elderberry
A tiger swallowtail flying some stories up into pine trees
An unbelievably big bumblebee; a queen?

Also, on the domesticated side of things:
Buds on passionflower vine
Lemon cucumber sprawling
Hops cones massive
Swamp milkweed planted

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