Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One of the Other Things I Miss about Portland: Part 2

The last two Septembers in Portland also featured watching the Vaux Swifts roost in the Chapman Elementary School chimney with the Altmans. Thousands and thousands of birds would circle the school yard and slowly drop into the chimney until they were all inside. Sometimes hawks would swoop inside the swarm and steal a swift away. That was usually met with gasps and boos from the audience below that gathered on blankets to watch them. Sometimes nothing is as beautiful as flocks of birds in flight.

Marc Silver, There are No Others, There is Only Us

Catherine Ulitsky, Hadley Starlings Flock #9, 2006

From Robert Adams: “There are so many astonishing encounters with mystery. I remember one foggy October evening, just after we had moved to Oregon, when we were sitting in the living room and Kerstin looked up from her reading and asked if I’d heard something. I hadn’t. I listened and still couldn’t be sure. She said is seemed to be coming from outside, so we opened the front door and went onto the porch, out into dense, dimly glowing fog. The sounds, we came to realize, were the voices of small birds migrating south over the hilltop on which we live, just out of sight up in the fog. They were perhaps no more than thirty of forty feet above us, but completely invisible. Their passage went on for a long time. How many thousands of birds must there have been? We never saw any of them but we could almost touch them. It was an event from which Charles Burchfield would have made a painting.”

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