Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spring 82: Aullwood!

8:20pm-10:00pm, Aullwood Audubon Center and Aullwood Garden MetroPark, Dayton, OH
breezy, cool, full-ish moon

After a day at Springfield Art Museum with Rodney, checking out the space for our July 23 performance, I made my way up north to the famed Aullwood Audubon Center and the Aullwood Garden as possible performance sites.

I was surprised to see a number of cars in the lot at the Audubon Center, and learned that there was a "Moon Walk" happening shortly. Sounded fun, but I was on an investigative mission to check out the Garden before dark.

From the moment I opened the car door, I heard many more birds than usual. A quick glance confirmed that the Audubon's facilities - feeders and birdhouses - were likely factors in encouraging birds to hang out here.

I wandered via a wooded path towards the Garden. I came upon today's new bird just as I approached a prairie:

Very cool, and I loved all the birds in the background as well, a couple of whom are new to me.

Shortly after, as I walked through the prairie, I was attacked.

No kidding, there were these small swallows darting through the air, and one that kept dive-bombing at my head (with a menacing little shriek). I had to duck to avoid being gored.

Totally terrifying, as evidenced in this clip:

Definitely my first time being attacked by a bird, and I couldn't stop alternately laughing and freaking out about how Hitchcock-ian it was. I figured I was too close to a nest, and ran my way through the prairie to get away from these scary birds.

(INTERLUDE: I discovered the perfect site for the environmental-music-dance installation I've been plotting: Aullwood Garden. It's an ideal scale - not too big, but plenty of nooks and crannies to explore and to set different sonic "scenes" in, from wooded trail to creek to planned gardens to beech lawn.)

On my way back, I heard the Moon Walk folks - ON THE DANGEROUS PRAIRIE PATH - and decide to find out what on earth those attacking birds were.

Chris Rowlands, Audubon naturalist, generously allowed me to join the party. He explained that the birds were tree swallows, and as insect-eaters were probably diving for mosquitoes around my body.

I wasn't not 100% convinced - I mean, that one bird was out to GET me!! - but decided it's a much more likely explanation. I joined the party in hopes of talking to Chris more about Aullwood, the Audubon Center, and potential collaborations.

It's a good thing, as I got to experience some pretty amazing things on this walk. First of all, it's really fun to walk in the dark, with no flashlight, with a group of strangers.

Next, Chris does an amazing impersonation of a woodcock. I'm not sure the real bird could be more entertaining!

Then, I got to hear the Rubber Band Orchestra - a pond full of Green Frogs:

Several stunning glimpses of a very bright, full moon.

Final magical moment was was seeing the prairie grasses lit up by dozens of flashing fireflies. One of my fellow walkers had red light-up sneakers, a funny parallel aesthetic that made me smile.


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