Tonight a book arrived for me in the mail. It is The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle.
Warblers are the tiny brightly colored gems of birds that might be the East Coast most famed bird-experience. They come in the most amazing colors. They are also hard to find, except in the little slips of time called migration that occur in the fall and the spring when the birds are pass through and then are gone to their overwintering grounds in Central America and Florida and the Caribbean where the bugs never cease to be available. I am lucky because one of the best places to find them during the migrations is in Rock Creek Park, the huge forested area in DC that is just minutes from where I live. I have gone a number of times this fall, and it has opened up a world of warblers and birders and made this book irresistible.
Spring migration, which I saw only a little of as a brand new birder, is full of birds coming North to mate, wearing fresh breeding plumages and singing love songs and generally getting ready to make them some babies. Their serenades and their breeding suits make them easy to identify. This changes in the fall, when switch to drabber colored feathers and stop singing. They have chip notes that they make, short simple sounds, and some experts can distinguish them. I sincerely hope that one day I can jump on that train but for now I am happy enough to be learning to recognize some species by the way they fly or their body shape or how high up in a tree they are. And mostly by the little remnants of color they have, or a few distinct markings. Now I have the help of this warbler book that I am already ovaries deep in, so to speak. What I mean is that sometimes I order a book and am very happy to have it and look at it and I do not actually read it for weeks or years. But I get to them you know? When the time is right. Well the time was right to order this 500+ page friend that I can’t put down… except to blog and eat dairy products. Ovaries deep.
The book came in a box with another order I had placed, for 16 Mason jars. More of my containers than I care to count have been devoted to Monarchs this season, either their caterpillaring or their pupating or to storing their juicy Milkweed leaves. But I have also had a lot of human food to put up. It came to me the best way possible, through working in the soil and coming home covered with dirt carrying a basket of summer’s manic bounty. Sometimes there were so many tomatoes that weren’t quite good enough to sell but excellent to eat. These haunted my refrigerator for a long time before I finished turning them into sauce and many sundry things… if you want to turn your tomatoes into other things may I suggest that you just turn your apartment into an oven? That is pretty much what happened here when I was busy cooking away in summer’s last heat hoorah without air conditioning. The nights seemed cool enough before the stove and the oven were all going. But as I said, the apartment to oven scenario worked wonders on the conversion of tomato to jar of frozen wonders.
Meanwhile I have started a Soils class. Seeing what can pop out of the same dirt that is under my fingernails with just a little love (and seeds, sweat, tractor, and most importantly someone with more than a clue of what to do next) made me want to learn more about this magical firmament, and so far it is an excellent complement to spending my days soil deep. So, reader I am sure that all my dirt-y thoughts will be making appearances in this blog. Brace yourself for a thrill ride.
Look down, and look up!