Lovers’ games

2004 December 24
by David J. Ringer

GREENE CO., MO. — Christmas carols are playing in the living room, and I can smell Mom’s sugar cookies baking. Later, there will be chili, candles, buttered crackers, polite laughter, stifled laughter, uncontrollable laughter, the Christmas story, and embarrassing snapshots all around. But at the moment, a flicker has all my attention.

What a wonderful bird she is — such an unlikely assortment of colors, shapes, and patterns! The gleaming red stroke on her nape echoes the black blaze across her breast. Her black eyes glitter from a plain brown, honest face. Each dramatic underspot is delicately fringed in white. She is feeding very intently; she pokes in the grass and drills rapidly in the ground, almost like a sewing machine. Occasionally she bounces erect, on the alert, looking and listening. Then, back to feeding. Her bill is caked with dirt.

The buxom doves waddle beneath the tray feeder, in and out of the already-lengthening house shadow. Far from drab, they too are colorful, exquisite creatures. Legs are bright pink; orbital rings are blue. Some feathers glow green and pink and gold — when the light is just right. Males’ crowns are washed with a delicate blue. One little dove is missing many feathers from her back and wings. She must have had some harrowing brush with death. I wonder if she can remember it. Waddle, waddle, peck, gulp, peck, peck, gulp.

This right here, this moment, is what I love about birding. I’ve seen thousands of doves and flickers, but still they enthrall me, draw me back one more time, make me look again, longer, with bigger eyes, with even more wonder and delight.

A pair of cardinals is dashing about the treetops, daddy in hot pursuit of mamma. It’s a lovers’ game — outsiders can only laugh. But that doesn’t matter. They are the outsiders.

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One Response
  1. Sunoose permalink
    April 2, 2005

    You are an EXTREMELY elaborate writer! I’m wowed! If only I could write as half as detailed as you. . .but still, I’m just a child! So, why should I be a great writer YET? It may develop in time. So, anyway, great work!

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