With a few exceptions, I tend to lump all the little birds together, especially in the spring. The constant flittering that seems to begin with the house finches courting on the railing, the rosy chests of crooning males that seem to intensify in the process, followed by a period of squabbling with neighbors while claiming space along the beam with a steady rain of dry materials from construction and deconstruction overhead. With space enough for half-a-dozen households, it’s entertaining, but messy.
My sister, who was visiting from the Bay Area, was impressed with all the avian activity when Robbin and I both noticed a bird we hadn’t seen before, bigger than a finch, but smaller than the clan of blackbirds, who’ve taken residence in two coastal redwoods, strutting across the lawn between unabashed breedings. To add more birds for our entertainment, Robbin filled the bird feeders for the first time in months that drew the stranger in, along with a pair of Bullock Orioles. Even noting the distinguished details of the stranger with binoculars, I couldn’t identify it online or within the several bird books on hand.
So taking a page out of my wildflower identification experience, I photographed it last evening on the feeder. Only in the photograph did I really see its ‘large’ beak, then went online this morning: I think it’s a Black-headed Grosbeak!
Noting repeated references to ‘granite’ in my poetry, a dear friend emailed an audio link of Thobar Phadraig reading his poem “Stone” that reminded me of “Stone Poems” by Douglas Skrief published by Starhaven (London, 2009), who also published my “Poems from Dry Creek” in 2008. Relating this ‘granite’ thread to Robbin last evening, she remembered my poem “Obstacles” and the circumstances that spawned it.
The Poem Notes from that book: Written while haggling over the language of a conservation easement intended to preserve the ranch, this simple poem was, and continues to be, a solid touchstone for difficult times. After approximately three years of emotional discussions, we abandoned the concept to concentrate our energies on improving the ranch and our cowherd – tending to the business we know best. Included in “Still in the Mountains,” 2004.
Our notion of a good poem is not dated, so we have decided to post some of my earlier poetry here from time to time.