Tag Archives: white-throated swift

Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt.3) by Patricia Karamesines

Desert storm with rainbow

This is the third part of a three-part entry. To read part one, go here. To read part two, go here.

Glancing at Belle, I can tell she needs water, and soon. I lead her away from the beaver ponds before she’s tempted beyond her ability to resist to drink from its giardia-laced teapots. I hurry her to the shade of a big juniper, another of my stops, and sit down in the dirt beneath a broken branch that hangs across the trail. Obviously, Belle needs more water than I can provide by cupping my hand. I relent and pour her a drink in the canteen lid. She laps four or five lids full then lies down in the shade without my prompting, her shoulder pressing against my knee. She pants rapidly but seems to have gotten enough to drink, refusing another offered lid.

Looking around inside the juniper’s shadow, I notice a single penstemon blossom, looking like a wind sock on a pole, glowing red against the litter. Its color leaps to the eye from a backdrop of live blue-green and dead brown juniper stubble; last year’s curled, tawny oak leaves; green wisps of grass growing in a clump; spider webs clouded with dirt and other debris; and round, purplish-blue juniper berries dropped into grey-toned soil speckled with blacker grains, probably of decayed organic material. From somewhere up-canyon, a canyon wren’s laugh pipes its downward-falling scale. Continue reading Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt.3) by Patricia Karamesines

Smarter than we think

I love stories like this.

The “Wow-ee!” response of the scientists involved would make for an interesting study, as well as the “maybe it’s the first example of invertebrate tool use but maybe it isn’t” facet of the story.

Everything is smarter than we think and has the prospect of becoming smarter, including us, if we could just get over thinking we’re smarter than we actually are. Continue reading Smarter than we think

Got flight?

I thought it might be nice to make this Got Flight Week on WIZ’s People Month.  Posts this week will play with the question: Can humans fly?  If you’ve had a flying dream or other liberating experience related to flying, please, feel free to post it in comments to this post or others published this week or submit your flight narrative to WIZ.

One of my hobbies is collecting words carrying the meaning of “understanding” and whose root words are bound up in the metaphorical pairing of perceiving and grasping—of aligning the focus of attention on something and the physical act of laying hold upon or seizing.  The American Heritage Dictionary gives the following definition for “understand”: To perceive or comprehend the nature and significance of; grasp. See synonyms at apprehend.”  There follow three more definitions relying upon the words “comprehend” and “grasp.”  At the heart of both “apprehend” and “comprehend” lies the Latin root prehendere, “to seize.”

Here is a partial list of other words and phrases conveying the concept of understanding that contain root words set in the act of grasping or seizing: Continue reading Got flight?

Earth Day 2009 (Field Notes #4)

Forgive, please, the late, overhasty and not especially informative nature of this post, but I wished to get something up for Earth Day before the opportunity passed.  As usual, consider yourself invited to report on your own Earth Day activities in the comments section.

Here in SE Utah, Earth Day opened gorgeously.  Warm and blue.  To the south, only a few drawn clouds showing, thin as weeds that snow flattened.  Around the Abajos to the north rise those striking cloud formations that always provoke my wonder.  Can’t remember what they’re called, but I think of them as the “jellyfish formations,” because to my eye they resemble man-of-war jellyfish: small, top-heavy clouds trailing long, wispy tentacles of vapor that appear to dangle into lower reaches of the atmosphere.  As I’ve sought to understand those cloud structures, I’ve read what’s actually happening is that the tentacles are water vapor rising out of unstable air, seeking a more settled region of the atmosphere.  Once the vapor finds that more stable region it forms a cumulus cloud, which may in turn provide the seed of a cumulonimbus cloud, a thunderhead. Continue reading Earth Day 2009 (Field Notes #4)

Field Notes #3

April 21, 2009 (pre-Earth Day)

Today, as I head out for the trail into the canyon that will take me past the dead coyote, I decide to call that trail Coyote Trail, or maybe Coyote Way, to remember that coyote mouldering at the trailhead.  As I pass those remains, I try to satisfy my curiosity about the animal’s gender, but the back legs are frozen together in a rigor of modesty.  A cloud of black flies on and around the carcass goes a-buzz at my intrusion into its community feast and fur-lined creche. Continue reading Field Notes #3

What I did and thought, Earth Day 2008

Parts of this entry rise a little above-average personal in nature.  I don’t mean to make this an “alms before men” post.  I want to try to show how easily — for me, anyway — thinking can slide between my experiences with animals and the ones I have with people.   Also, I don’t remember ever having written down the “Hillbilly Dilly” episode noted below, and since the hummingbird called it to mind, after my not thinking about it for many years, I imagined the moment right for the telling.

April 22, 2008

At the cliff this morning, I find a colony of white-throated swifts fully active, hunting the wild blue, tangling into the wind gusts that stream through the canyon’s channel and splash against its rocks.

A vulture passes by, very low, slightly out from the ledge where I sit. 

A swift just cut in quite close, the vrrrrr of its wings as they sliced air sounding like a miniature jet.  A pair of hawks circle high overhead.

Will eagles come?  I barely finish writing the question when I look up to see a golden eagle, juvenile or maybe second year, brown feathers flecked with white.  As I gaze up at the eagle, a black-chinned hummingbird rises like a helicopter into my line of sight, directly between the eagle and me, probably examining the burgundy tones in my shirt, faded overall but most vivid in the cuffs.

Continue reading What I did and thought, Earth Day 2008

Field Notes #2

April 13, 2009

Why do I still do this?  Why, at my age, do I follow as if I were nine years old unmarked, unpaved trails away from what I know into the wilds of what I don’t know?   That’s how this striving creation—part light, part water, part air, part earth, and all aspiring flesh—shows itself to me, in the mutual bodying forth between us. It seems an involvement composed of equal slices revelation and formation, since in discovery, everything changes, the New erupts into being, not just in me, the older wide-eyed child, but in this juvenile Creation.

Today, I begin at the Crossfire Canyon’s cliffs, taking inventory of the birds.  A few days earlier I saw cliff swallows flash between the rims, returning or passing through.  Had they stayed or gone?  To find out, I take to the air myself, or at least to the boundary between earth and air, the rimrocks.  Continue reading Field Notes #2

Bird in the hand

First published at A Motley Vision, this essay explores the nature of stewardship by wondering if we understand what stewardship is or if we’ve merely assumed that we understand.  Are we fully conscious of the needs of other creatures, as good stewards ought to be? Are we imaginative enough to visualize the possibilities of faithful stewardship, which may include providing other species with opportunities for … oh, I don’t know … progression, maybe … or perhaps gaining from them insight that endows our own progression?

An abridged version of “Bird in the Hand” was published in 2007 in Glyphs III, a regional anthology containing writings by local writers and visitors to southeastern Utah’s redrock country that Moab Poets and Writers publishes every two years.  I’ve written more about MP&W here.  

In July 2005 my brother Jim and I threw camping gear into his new Toyota 4Runner and headed for a canyon in the San Rafael Swell. The object of our trip: try out the 4Runner on real four-wheel-drive roads and see petroglylphs at the canyon’s mouth. We arrived at the canyon at dusk and as evening fell helped each other wrestle up tents in a whipping canyon wind. Continue reading Bird in the hand