O forgive me, forget! Look, as the clouds up there
veil with black the slow moon,
Often, moonlight seems to clarify what the sun has rendered far too bright.
I drive away
Seems to–I’m skirting the issue here, I’m sure you can tell.
stay and shine in your beauty
That is because I am afraid to really get to the heart
the beauty of the decoy
so to speak
the beauty of the bird
of the thing.
And, as you can tell, I can effectively draw things out though, indeed, at some point my audience will recede and then it will be me and the moon, until she, too, dives over the horizon.
You’re so much alone in this lovely world,
and then just me. Whatever that means
You always claim, my darling, but as for that,
just me and every other living thing within my vicinity and within me as well.
You cannot know…
As I was trapping at Poison Oak Gulch–I’d set the traps and then found a place on a little hill to sit and try to get some sort of observations while I waited–I lay down for a bit to rest. I hate to admit this, it feels like a slacking sort of thing but I was very tired and it was just a moment that I let my eyes close and then when I opened them I saw the clouds, the sun himself and the blue sky.
He touched me
I heard quail as well and sat up as their calls crossed back and forth from the north and south sides of the open field, between poison oak bush Toxicodendron diversilobum and laurel sumac, lentisco, Malosma laurina.
so I live to know
I waited as they called but no one ventured from the southern corner into the path. I could have seen them had they chosen to take this route, but they didn’t.
The northern group called on the other side of the tall grass and could have happily been tramping through the dried vegetation with me incapable of actually ever seeing them. Indeed, at least on bird did–she was the one I captured in a trap nestled in this grass. In one of the four traps, I should add. Four traps, one quail. This was the bird trapped in two places, on two days, at the same time in the morning.
do not let the dove harm us here
This capture of her felt like a nice little data point. But it also felt
let it fly forth, flying its best
like I’d only gotten a tiny taste, after two weeks of trapping and taking observations ten or so hours every day, of what the small group I was trying to follow was doing.
A stone flies up over the mountains
I’d like to sing, but that isn’t the point here.
If I say it to you now will everything change? Shh, don’t tell me.
Nobody but me/Walks the waist-high wet
Nobody but me knows that place and those birds like I do and I barely know them at all. I am letting go of my big ideas for this population, my drive to answer the question of how flexible is their social behavior, how driven by environment and how maintained by social cohesion. Questions like: is social behavior in California quail under selection so that each individual always selects a tactic to maximize her/his fitness or is there some point where social interrelationships results in selection of tactics that are possibly less fit than other options? require that I know how individuals make their choices, what are their options, what are their webs of relationships. And, of course, these questions also require that I have a much stronger sense of how the environment impacts these choices.
I’m letting go of these ideas and I’m letting go of the fantasy of being inside these birds–this group, MY birds. What I’m keeping is the faint connection of continuing to band; continuing to take observations. Keeping in touch with them.
Golds bleed and deepen
But here’s a little bit more–this is the wing of a bird–I’m checking the moult of the primaries and secondaries–the longest feathers of the wings. In juveniles, the moult corresponds roughly to age. For adults, patterning on the secondaries pre-moult can tell one whether this is their first year or if they are more than 1 year old.
That is a beautiful bird. That bird is out there tonight, more than 1000 miles away, roosting in the night. He must be–I will him still alive and I will him there, roosting It is one thing I can do from here that doesn’t hurt.
It doesn’t, does it?
I waited a long time- Master-
but I can want more-
Quotes are from
Susan Tichy, The Rg Veda, Robinson Jeffers, Friedrich Hölderin, Emily Dickinson, Inger Christensen, Sylvia Plath