birdwatchersdigest.com • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER’ 17 • BIRD WATCHER’S DIGEST
ery, was followed by more weather
reports. Conditions on the coast
were looking grim. Most sensible
folks had evacuated except for
some stubborn individuals who
valued their “stuff” more than
their necks, and the always-inex-plicable nonsense from “on site”
weather reporters. The governor
says: “Stay off the beach!” Most
do, except for the reporters, with
rain-gear, microphones, and a satellite truck.
The storm still crawled along,
wiggling up the coast like a blind
caterpillar. The “cone” became
a leaf being slowly devoured.
Outside, the wind and rain
increased in intensity, a constant
reminder that predictions are
only that, tarot vague. What will
be the next card? Nothing to do
but watch the reports and sip on
anti-anxiety “medicine” until
sleep would take over. Let’s see
what morning will reveal.
On Friday there was no sunrise. The sky went from black
to ashen gray. In the wind and
rain the trees that bent from the
northeast the day before now
slowly adjusted westward. The
torment would pass.
Better put out a couple of
bird feeders. And they came:
cardinals, doves, and woodpeckers, almost casual in the gale,
for sunflower seed and suet. The
hummingbird, like a neon spark,
continued collecting nectar from
the tossing flowers.
Birds amaze me—paradoxes
of fragility and resilience. When
the fabric of existence is stressed
either by human arrogance or natural turmoil, the birds are there
to stitch up the rips and reweave
the tapestry, determined, given
the chance. The birds are there to
patch our spirits and give us courage to face just one more day.
Most incredibly, there were
the common ground doves. A
pair of them sat side by side on a
horizontal branch of a silk floss
tree, one of only a few exotics in
my friends’ native garden. (I say
“horizontal,” but that’s just more
or less.) The wind had other
ideas, wrenching and twisting.
But the small doves were almost
indifferent. They were courting!
Pressed against each other, bopping heads, billing, and a few
quick mounts. They were brilliant in the gloom as if lit by an
I was surprised to see this
behavior this late in the season
and in spite of the circumstances.
At the risk of slipping into
anthropomorphism, I wondered
why. What was their motivation?
Were they simply being defiant? Or were they aware of their
possible impending mortality?
“Come on, once more for the
good times!” I was reminded
of an old David Bowie song,
“Heroes.” The song describes two
West Berlin lovers who would
park in a car under the shadow