Monday, October 09, 2006

A Triumphant Sit!

I've just waved the last houseguest good-bye. The house is quiet but for Richard Thompson hammering away at his Strat. I'm exhausted in that deep core way that results from the preparation and execution of a large event. The kind of exhausted that brides are after their weddings, that festival planners are after their festivals. I feel like a gerbil that's just been plucked off its wheel in mid turn. My body is still going almost frenetically, but my brain is definitely out of gear. I think it unhooked at our gig Saturday night (which went really well).
The Big Sit was really fun this year, even though there weren't any stunning birds or records broken. The colors are really just coming in, but they were beautiful nonetlheless, a balm for the eye.
The birding was great all morning, and then the doldrums set in, and we really didn't see much more for the afternoon and evening. It hardly mattered; we were yakking and laughing so much that it morphed into the social event that it really is (it's just barely disguised as a birding event). This year, it was also a gastronomic spectacular, with Anne MacArthur taking laurels for bringing the best food from farthest away. Nainomo Bars, please! Think dark chocolate and frosting and almonds...carrot cake, peanut butter banana bread with butter...poppyseed rolls...ohhhhh... Here's Rondeau Ric, a very very lucky and spoiled man--who appreciates his unique position as Anne's husband very much. Bill's mom Elsa drove out special to bring a still-warm blueberry pie that had people taking seconds and moaning in delight. Jason brought fabbo meatballs. Marci brought Dutch apple and pumpkin pie. There were dips and finger foods and chips and was just ridiculous. Vats of chili and squash soup simmered. The fridge is crammed and groaning with leftovers. They never eat as much as you think they will.
The weather was spectacular, warm and sunny, sweater to shorts to sweater weather in the lovely fall way. The birds were beautiful. We had lots of warblers for mid-October, including a male Nashville that wanted to be on the cover of Bird Watcher's Digest and posed accordingly. Bluebirds were hanging around like dirty shirts, giving me the hairy eye, wanting more mealworms. Yellow-rumped warblers checked and fluttered everywhere.
I spent most of Saturday running last-minute Big Sit! errands while our dear friend Jen and Bill got the tower set up for business. One of the things Bill scrawled on my shopping list was Fake Owl. There are two kinds available at Apex Tru-Valu Hardware, it turns out: the ugly plastic static owl, and the bobble-head owl. I gulped and shelled out $25 for the bobble-head owl. It netted exactly no reaction from a single bird as it bobbled away out in the meadow. Nuthin'. It had a guarantee on the box, a guarantee of what I do not know. I guess to repel birds. We were hoping to attract raptors like sharp-shins and merlins,which isn't exactly the point of the guarantee, is it? So I guess we're stuck with a Halloween decoration.
We got a new butterfly for the property: a Giant Cloudless Sulfur, a migrant from the deep South, flashing and skipping over the goldenrod, the most amazing clear lemon, huge and unmarked, unmistakable. #69! Yayyy! When you think about it that's a whole lotta butterflies for one 80-acre piece. Of course, that's 14 years of watching, too.
At dusk a large bat that was probably a hoary bat made a number of low circles over the tower. What an amazing beast it was. It had a very pale belly and a long tail. It was impossible to get much more on it, other than that it wasn't dark in color, and that it was big. Oh, for a field guide to bats on the wing! I need one! As I watched it , it really sank in that this is our only true flying mammal, beating its wings and making its way in the world just like a bird. Our friend Peter King asked me, "Do bats have hollow bones?"--I don't know! Do they? (A Google search for the truth was equivocal. Some sites perpetuate the notion that they do, on what authority I know not. It turns out that they have marrow-filled bones, just like we do, so the answer is no). I love those moments of epiphany, when some simple truth like "This is a flying mammal!" suddenly arrows into my soul. It's a pure flash of wonder, that can't be manufactured or summoned.
I'll post more tonight, when I hope Blogger won't be acting so strangely. It's gagging on my pictures. This post has been entirely too much of a struggle... There are too many cute pictures of Baker doin' the Big Doggie Sit! to post now. I've got to lash myself to the drawing table and crank out at least two pieces of art today. Later!