Seattle Quail

My essay for ASLE ended as follows:

There are other places

Which also are the world’s end, some at the sea jaws,

Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city—

My glasses are broken and everything is a blur. On my run yesterday I saw a shape that looked like a quail but I assumed was a starling. Or I assumed until I stopped, and squinted, bringing his shape and color into better focus.. He was a California quail, here in a corner of Seattle, running across a street down near the Montlake cut. A male quail, and I fumbled for my phone to take a picture. As it is with all of these things, he vanished into a front yard, and I looked up to find him gone. Like a ghost he was.

Either you had no purpose

Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured

And is altered in fulfillment

quotes are by T. S. Eliot


What was interesting about compressing and cleaning up the posts I made in The Quail Diaries, in order to generate a 10 minute presentation for ASLE, was how very hard it was. There are so many strands that want to stay entangled and dangle off the finished project.

And even as I’ve finished, so another strand unwinds itself from the neatly closed package I created.

Yesterday, running in the same place I had seen that ghostly quail, I heard a male solicitation call: COW! At first, I was sure it was my mishearing the flock of starlings that were busy in the trees, but no…I heard it again and again and I walked towards it but, not being comfortable running through people’s yards (and it being late and me needing to get home), I never did find him.


But I know he was there. I recorded him. [I wanted to play the file for you but it does not want transfer from my phone as of this moment]

I tell myself it was the same male I saw a month ago.

I am free of all constraints, I am not a scientist in this context, I can make him what I will.
(I’m sorry little quail, you deserve to be whatever you are. It’s just that I cannot find you.)

And telling myself he is the same I also, involuntarily, gain his narrative of isolation, assuming there is only one here, and he alone and the end


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