Saturday, December 5, 2015

Saturday Evening Post

Anna's hummingbird on the grapevine this morning
I'm feeling a bit scattered so let's just see where this post goes, shall we? I could write about Lyanda Lynn Haupt's Crow Planet which I am enjoying more than I've enjoyed any book I've read in a long time. She's a beautiful writer, is Ms Haupt, and this book is the perfect mix of personal anecdote, gentle polemic (can a polemic be gentle?), and fascinating scientific fact. And maybe it's that I bought the Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, but haven't actually read it (because it's a damned intimidating volume), but my complaint about a lot of "bird books" is that they don't tell you things like that young crows' eyes are blue or that the eggs of cavity nesters are white because they don't have to be camouflaged for protection; Crow Planet tells you that stuff, and it also discusses whether it does any "good" to hang clothes out to dry and why that does or doesn't matter. You hear a lot about "the author's voice" in the book world; Lyanda Lynn Haupt has a lovely voice. That she lives in West Seattle so a lot of her examples are local is both good and bad; I feel like we're such neighbors that I could drop by her house and ask her to lend me a ladder so I can climb up to see the crow's nest she talks about. I figure if I triangulate on "ten minutes to Lincoln Park"and "2 blocks from a busy street" I can figure out which "restored old farmhouse" is hers, right? Luckily, I'm too lazy to be a truly successful stalker.
This morning's still life
So there's that. I am loving this book which I have turned to several times in the last week to find calm. It's that sort of book. I can't believe I've avoided it all this time just because I wasn't entirely wild about the cover. The amazing thing about a book is that, in exchange for $16.95 plus tax, you can experience perfection.
Yellow-rumped warbler at the suet feeder
Maybe this will be a birdy sort of post then. I put in an hour or so on the Cornell Feederwatch early this morning. (One place Ms Haupt and I part company is over feeders: she doesn't approve of them for doubtless very sound and good reasons.) Sitting in the backyard with my binoculars, notebook, a blanket or two, and, eventually, an umbrella is also a calming activity. I was going to say that the juncos continue to outnumber every other species but, on reflection, there was quite a sizable gang of thumbprints today. The yellow-rumped warblers have also returned. Winter birding may really be the best.

The other thing started today is work on the 2016 calendar. I think it's going to be all France this year which means I spent a good long time winnowing down the million photos taken on our vacation. My plan is to post the runners-up here, just because I'm so darned sorry that they won't be on the calendar itself. The lucky recipients of said calendar, if they also happen to read this blog, can have the pleasure of saying, "You picked this lousy photo of a bee when you could have given me the Eiffel Tower? What sort of editorial judgment is that?" So, without further ado, the Eiffel Tower shot that sadly is probably not in the calendar. (See how I waffle? But that bee is in.)

Foreshortened Eiffel Tower


  1. I loved Crow Planet as well -- I'd read an earlier work of hers and knew what delights lay in store. I've also read every word of the Sibley Guide to Bird to Bird Life & Behavior because I had to for the Master Birder course and while it was certainly useful and informative, it did not delight.

    If that Eiffel Tower shot is a reject, that I am *very* much looking forward to a 2016 calendar gift! Which reminds me -- I have a certain gift ready that may seem similar...I will bring it to the Eli Courier Service soon.

    1. I read her "Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds" earlier this year and I liked it a lot, but somehow it didn't move me the way "Crow Planet" is dong. It could entirely be my own state of mind; sometimes I'm more susceptible than others.

      The Eiffel Tower is sneaking its way onto the calendar but small. The selection of photos is very personal so I'm not sure whether you'll be thrilled with every month or not. I'll hope you like most of them. (Should I order an extra for your soon to be former co-worker? How much is she willing to pay?)

    2. That's the book I read -- I liked it a lot. It was clearly your state of mind. Don't bother ordering an extra one -- the coworker in question is currently my supervisor and not someone I wish to do nice things for. She also has a habit of saying she'll do things and then changing her mind.

      I'm sure I'll enjoy your choice of photos just as much as you'll enjoy the Truman photos in my 2016 calendar.

    3. I didn't mean to say I *didn't* like "Rare Encounters"--just that it didn't hit me the way "Crow Planet" is hitting me.

      And I was offering to *sell* your coworker a calendar at a profit. I'm not crazy. Truman makes a fine Mr December on this year's calendar though I did prefer last month's grebes--but only because they were so truly fine.