Redención 12–Up and Down the West Coast

In the context of the rain, and surge and winds on the other side of the country it feels unutterably calm here.

not honey, not the south

Though outside, right now, is one of the few sunny days we’ve had this year in Seattle.  So it is a weather event, though not an unseasonable one.

not the plunder of the bee/from meadow or sand-flower/or mountain bush

The beauty of this place is undeniable like today when Mount Rainier in her volcanic sleep stands like a mirage far south but not so far and we might as well lie down because the beauty is killing us.

but this is not mine, if I were clay, my clay would not be from the earth here.

not so –/though rapture blind and hunger crisp/dark and inert my mouth

old desire–old passion/old forgetfulness–old pain–

The green and mountains the waterways (but not my sea)–one can stand on a hill, even in this city, and it embraces you in green and power.  But, though I can touch this, something inside is held back.

heat, more passionate/of bone and the white shell

Because it is the landscape in the south, in California, that sea, and the shrubby chaparral and maritime scrub and desert, and live oak woodland whose clay I’ve stolen into myself for this entirety of my life.  I can live anywhere else but I’m not sure I’ll ever shake what that landscape is to me.

This is, of course, despite the fact that, quite possibly to be Californian, especially to be of the stock that came out in the proverbial covered wagon, means to be willing to never dwell on what got left behind; never look back at all.

But the Quail

But of course

There are Callipepla up here in Seattle and the surrounds:  remember the male I saw on the top of a hill cow calling several days in a row–moving up the hill then away–and then there no longer?  They are in the parks, though in such sparse number their populations feel like remnants.  They are on the islands–Whidbey, Bainbridge and San Juan.  They are up on Vancouver Island.  These populations were introduced though in southern Washington they might be native–certainly Oregon bears some native populations.

the past could be jettisoned

About those introductions, by the way,

restocked or introduced because of use as game species.  Restocked in California in response to dwindling populations.  First capture and release in California in 1908 when 1,500 California Quail from Baja California were liberated in Los Angeles

but seeds were carried

California quail have been introduced all over the world and their populations have taken, meaning they are established and existing in places like Vancouver Island but also the big island of Hawaii, in Corsica and Chile. The thrive in New Zealand, where there is concern that they are outcompeting local species of quail.  To some extent, there seems to be a Mormon trail of California quail where the introductions of the birds and the movements of Mormons coincided for awhile.  One of those strange coincidences that, were I to try hard enough, I could make into a story that might give the sort of meaning to life that can be comforting when the stars are just a bit too ice cold bright.

we were glad to get a trunk to bury him in.

I’m going to at least get a sense of these populations of quail up here in the Pacific Northwest–perhaps there is a local pocket big enough that I can get some data.  If nothing else, I’m interested in subspecific variation and getting basic data on the birds here, right now, and what sorts of habitats they are exploiting could be interesting, perhaps.

What I tell myself right now, what I’m creating as a “research program,” are the pieces I can do–the natural history of the elegant quail, the phylogenetic relationship of much of the new world quail especially the Callipepla, aspects of the biogeography of California quail and perhaps little extra bits about behavior, like variation in social and mating behavior and more detailed accounts of the vocalizations.

If your life bewilders you 

Like, for example, the antiphonal call–or jamming–male and female calls interacting and intersecting and changing the meaning in away that only two can change it.

If the rain lashes your face like manes of all the horses of this century

What is the overarching question, you ask?

If you cannot remember what word you wrote

I can give you an answer, and perhaps you will like it–something about is there selection for tactical behavioral flexibility in response to environmental and social factors in New World quail (Odontophoridae) and how is this selection constrained (e.g. genetically, socially through bonds…etc)?

If there are no faces, if faces are not what you interrogate

Or something like that.

If…and ‘where is a place I can write this’


quotes are from Anne Carson, Joan Didion, BNA species account for California Quail, HD


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