Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 14: Parking Lot Trespass

Martinwood St. and University of Massachusetts Laboratories' Parking Lot, South St, Jamaica Plain, 6:50am-7:30am
clear skies, one wisp on the horizon

A musician's schedule does not exactly facilitate early rising. Last night was a late night, it was hard to get out of bed, so I needed to find the closest view of the sunrise from my house.

Once again, I found my street to be quite tuneful -- my ears picked out yet another of the same bird from Monday (grey-feathered, long-tailed, with white and black stripes under the wings), which my sources suggest is likely a mockingbird. It makes perfect sense, since this guy seems to have an endless repertoire!

My search for high ground led me to the parking lot of the UMass research labs one block from my house. It's on a small hill overlooking Forest Hills train station, and one grassy edge has a clear view to the eastern horizon.

The silhouettes of birds in pre-dawn flight were my aperitif, and while I'm not usually one to swoon over seagulls, I must admit that the beauty of flight trumps details of species. Flocks of sparrows and gulls alike were gorgeous inky black shapes swooping over a blushing, almost-risen sky.

I settle into my comfortable Chinawoman's squat, and wonder which raises more eyebrows - my human stillness when I'm out in the woods (which must seem strange to the busy squirrels and birds), or my current position, squatting between a parking lot and a traffic-filled road and gazing at the horizon, drawing looks from commuters hurrying by.

It occurs to me that stillness is an unfamiliar state for a lot of animals, and can really be a cause for concern. Am I a predator waiting to attack? Am I a deranged person plotting some devious move?

I guess I look pretty devious (freshly rolled-out-of-bed, hair a-tumble), because after the sunrise, as I peer at the bulletin board for a COMMUNITY GARDEN IN THE PARKING LOT (!!), trying to figure out what "AMSNA SLI" might stand for, a woman in the lot calls out, "Can I help you?"

Apparently my runners' clothes do not compensate for the suspicious bulge (audio recorder) in my pocket, or the aforementioned crazy hair.

I quickly explain my curiosity and delight at discovering a community garden (IN A PARKING LOT!!) one block from the house I have lived in for three years. The lady very nicely offers to put me in touch with the coordinator of the garden so I can get on the waitlist. Turns out it's a shared community garden between UMass Lab employees and community members. I like the idea that cooped-up researchers get to come out and garden during their lunch break.

On my short walk home, another mockingbird (?). For a novice like me, hearing a mockingbird is a little bit like listening to a jazz solo without recognizing the quotations from other tunes or players : I don't know who he's imitating, but it sure sounds good:


At October 16, 2010 at 8:44 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

"The Northern Mockingbird's mimicry is likely to serve as a tool for increasing the size of its repertoire and thus its ability to attract females."

What a stud huh? Reminds me of the time I tried to learn Mandarin...


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