Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 26: Ripple Effect

Peters Hill and environs, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, 6:45am-8am
unseasonably warm, some clouds

It was crazy warm out today!
I kept shedding layers: hat and gloves at the basement door, fleece at the park entrance, hoody on the hill.

As I enjoyed a partial sunrise - the sun again blocked by a cloud bank, but a clearance on the horizon allowed for some nice cloud/light displays- I reveled in the warmth and fragrance of the hour.

There was something positively summery about the moist air and warm breezes, a feeling furthered by the sudden sensation of being bitten by a mosquito. Yes, there were mosquitoes out - in late October! I tallied at least three bites.

I wondered if migrating birds would think they'd already reached Florida, and settle in. I certainly would, if I was them.

I like thinking of the crabapple trees on Peters Hill as nature's version of water station volunteers in a marathon. Specifically, those folks who hold out paper cups/little gel packs to runners as they go on their way. The trees are tireless, ever-patient volunteers offering sustenance to birds on their ultra-marathon migrations from Canada to Florida. (According to a park placard, wintertime robins in the Arboretum are not "our" robins - they are robins from further north who are on their way down South.)

The other great thing about dawn here is the emergence of sound that matches the emergence of light. It's a definite moment, a span of a couple minutes, within which all the birds rouse themselves and each other, and start to fly from tree to tree. The first bird sounds we hear are super-high chitters, followed by the cheeps of robins:

(I meant to post the recording, but it's too muddled by wind and passing cars, sorry!)

Today's bird called out to me as I ambled down a dirt path. He was, I believe, a cardinal, though he didn't sing, only cheeped real high! I think that's a chipmunk conversing with him. Can you tell the difference?

At the end of the clip, you can hear the fading sound of the cardinal as he flies away, right around when the commuter train passes.

Was a little disappointed to not find a new song on the hill today, but I satisfied my urge for discovery by finding a new place: a tiny little puddle-of-a-pond, surrounded by gorgeous sinewy redwood-like trees. It's a sweet little spot, enclosed and secretive, with a few sitting rocks.

The funny thing is, like so many places I've discovered this month, I've passed within 15 yards of this spot dozens of times in the last three years (it's on my regular running route), just never LOOKED.

The second highlight of my morning was a human connection. On my way to the redwoods, I saw a biker paused at a break in the trees, enjoying the end of the (partial) sunrise. I was happy to see a fellow dawn-aficionado.

When we passed each other a moment later, I was happier still to recognize her-- I had met Molly just this last Sunday, at a storytelling potluck where I performed one of my Bird a Day compositions. Molly said I inspired her to come out and see the sunrise! This was a fun convergence, and just the kind of ripple effect I had (secretly) hoped this project could have.

Here is an excerpt of the piece I performed on Sunday - I'm still polishing it =):


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