Male scarlet tanagers are seen
regularly in the park.
graphed northern parula, ovenbird,
northern waterthrush, common yellowthroat, American redstart, and
bay-breasted, chestnut-sided, black-and-white, black-throated blue,
black-throated green, Canada, yellow, magnolia, Nashville, hooded,
and mourning warblers.
It is a fine list, but of course we
saw mostly individual birds. The
images we made were also fine.
Yet they remain mere mementos of
a blessing that cannot be circumscribed by Linnaean nomenclature,
nor adequately imagined even by
the wizardry of digital technology.
The brilliant hues of wood-warblers bathing, preening, feeding,
flitting about at arm’s length on this,
their northbound nuptial journey,
must be experienced firsthand.
There was once a rainbow-feathered fire of these blithe spirits,
blazing through our eastern forests,
enchanting the woods.
A trickle remains.
Now, as I enter my mid-60s, I
sense that I am coming full circle.
I return to favorite haunts with the
same keen anticipation but at a
slower pace. I come with a quieter
spirit marked by memories of past
seasons crowding upon each other.
I’m in no hurry.
These days I’m enjoying Isabella, our new granddaughter, as
she grows. She’s got two sharp
front teeth already, and of course a
winning smile. Before you know
it, she’ll be taking her first steps.
Almost ready to go birding.
And yes, we’ll ride up Myrtle
Avenue—destination: Forest Park.
We’ll travel beneath tenements
and wheeling flocks of pigeons,
pass streets named Linden, Cypress,
Catalpa, Forest. Come mid-May,
we’ll wander among the blaze of
dogwoods, with the trees soaked
black—after the night rain—
listening for the churr-churr-churr of a
red-bellied woodpecker; the scolding k-jeer of a flicker; the brash calls
of blue jays; the ringing teacher,
teacher, teacher, teacher of an
We’ll visit the pine grove to
scout for owls and to remember
the fallen soldiers. We’ll search
for jack-in-the-pulpit, wild geranium, trout lily, and the elusive
wood thrush. And for sure we’ll
march up and down these woods,
whistling and carefree—wakening
to the pulse of growing things, the
power of the green wood to restore
and renew. a
Johann Schumacher is a graphic
designer and photographer. In
March 2009 he became a first-time
grandfather. He served as a combat
artist in Vietnam in 1967–1968.