Naturally enough, birds tend to attract human attention by their activities: flying, feeding, courting, fighting. A mockingbird singing at 4 a.m. will not be ignored. A blue jay, irritated by a squirrel’s antics, can be heard for blocks. Chattering sparrows, self-important grackles, and apparently demented woodpeckers all vie for their share of the spotlight.
Around the water, things are different. Rookeries are raucous, and the increasingly desperate cries of mallards in mating season can penetrate walls, but water birds generally tend to be quiet sorts: like children of an earlier time, cautioned by parents to be seen, but not heard.
A sure sign of winter, the arrival of coots and gallinules on the Texas coast is especially quiet. One day, there are none. The next day, flotillas of birds bob like decoys on the water: placidly drifting from place to place, picking their way through lily and lotus on elongated toes, quietly clacking and chirring to one another in clipped, metallic tones. (more…)
tumble toward rest;
bank low through owlets
scattered and still; lend voice
to the tree-bound, huddled or
hunted — sweeping through sleepers’ dark
feathered dreams while stars limn their flight, limb
to strange limb, seeking, then finding, their peace.
Comments always are welcome.
Special thanks to Terry Glase for the use of his photo titled “Sunrise.” Click HERE for three larger views of the same sunrise, shown on his site. For more information on the Etheree, a syllabic poem that, in its basic form, contains ten lines and a total of fifty-five syllables, please click HERE.
watches from shadowed sedges
frail lily floats
The metallic drone of cicadas; desiccated and drooping crops; fish sinking toward cooler water even as rising temperatures slow life’s pace for body and mind: such is the arrival of midsummer on the Texas coast.
It’s a season suited for lighter fare, and so I’m offering a small series of images matched with poetry: tokens of a season I love.
All photos and haiku are mine, with the exception of this photo, taken by one of my favorite nature photographers. Steve Gingold specializes in the landscape of Western New England. His natural world differs significantly from my own, but it’s equally beautiful. You can find more at his Nature Photography blog.
Comments are welcome, always.
The Rio Frio came by its name honestly. Spring-fed, shallow and clear, it’s a cold river: perhaps the coldest in Texas. It can slow to a trickle in summer heat, and, when in flood, puts roadways underwater in a flash. But if the Frio is flowing well, singing steadily over the rocks, its coursing is pure pleasure.
Other Texas rivers — particularly the Guadalupe, the Comal, and the San Marcos — are famed as venues for kayaking and tubing, but they flow through urban centers. When the season ends and river rats dry off for a final time, there still are dance halls and concerts, festivals, antique shops, and galleries to entertain the crowds.
Along the Frio, things are different. As the weather turns and school begins, provisioning companies shutter their doors until spring. Families continue to gather at Garner State Park for weekends of camping and fishing, and birders flock into the valley to track the autumn migration. Hunters fan out into ranchlands in pursuit of whitetail, while autumn bikers test themselves against the famous hairpin turns and steep grades of the “Twisted Sisters.” Still, the pace of life begins to slow. As it does, the Frio and her people show a different face to the world: a face filled with unexpected beauty and warmth.