Send in the crows

The fog bears heavy on the island these days.  When I come outside, I ruefully glance at the low-lying mist.  I have not retrieved my camera from its cubby.  The battery must be dead by now.  Still I follow the line of the crow’s broad sweep as it cuts through the clouds.  Winter takes hold in the Delta.

I scroll through last year’s photos.  As I drive down Jackson Slough, I think of a large bird which I saw there a couple of years ago.  It rose from its low perch and turned, startling me. I dropped my cell phone and laughed as I pulled to the shoulder.  I had no idea that I would ever live anywhere with such unrelenting majesty.  His wingspan could have been six feet.  Later I stared at the one shot  which I managed to get, of the bird before he raised himself into the air.  I remember getting out of my car and standing behind the short pole on which he had been sitting.  He might have been as tall as that, as tall as the post which barely cleared my waist. 

Today I paused beneath the splintered old tree.  A third of the tree’s trunk lies in the unmown weeds, split by the high winds of last month’s storm.  Against the grey sky, a hawk clung to the top of the bare branches.  I couldn’t tarry long; the fog would hide my taillights from approaching vehicles.   The bird turned his head downwards, a certain dare evident in his piercing gaze.  I nodded and pressed the accelerator, moving forward, leaving him be.

Soon the snow geese will come back.  Their instinct draws them to the flooded fields.  Already the real photographers have captured a few cranes out on Sherman Island.  The egrets huddle in the divots behind the large equipment clearing the rubble of autumn’s harvest.  They forage for the tender insects stirred by the heavy treads.  As I pass, one rises into the sky, a white streak against the dim morning air.  The call of a small songbird drifts across the island.  I draw a deep breathe and continue onward, to Highway 12 and what passes for a city.  I leave the fields behind as I span the bridge and circle down to Front street along the river, where a boat sounds its horn and loons glide past.

It’s the first day of the ninety-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

This is a gallery from last year.  Please enjoy.

Here is the shot that I got in 2019 of the large bird — hawk? juvenile eagle? — in the field alongside Jackson Slough Road.

After our Dec. 12th Holiday Market, I hope to have time to finish editing my manuscript but also to get out in the Delta and take a few pictures.  Until then, I hope you enjoy these re-runs.

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