My son is writing a Quail Diaries of his own. It is a somewhat different narrative, however. The quail in these diaries are working to overcome their nemeses–including….Cooper’s hawks and Dr. Calkins. I’m in it in the first chapter, trapping and banding the birds. Quant, the hero quail is never trapped but Y/S Y/B is, and this bird, with help from Quant, shoots me in the eye, thus forcing me to retire from trapping. While I apparently do not die (this according to the author) I never show up again in the five book series.
This is, incidentally by the son with whom I was pregnant on 9/11. Early pregnant and sick as a dog. In bed when the first planes hit.
we are both ignorant
And a secret, unrelated to quail and embarrassing because, of course, I am a scientist–
yet love bids me
I asked the fetus: why come into the world now, after all these ashes and falling bodies? And the fetus told me powerfully that he wanted to live. He did. I mean it and I’ve never been one for clinging to life no matter what. He was born and is and exists and whatever may come he is
the enormous/present folding over the future
We all have our banal little stories about that day, don’t we. It’s a way of saying, I was there. For me, it is also a way forgiving myself for bringing beings into the world that will suffer. Because, of course, we all do, and my children do and will because
Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, sickness is dukkha, death is dukkha
To choose it is ended, it is actual and more than that it
This is the last entry of the Redención series. To be posted near, and read on or near, the big 10th anniversary of 9/11. What the quail know of this I cannot say.
however ugly the parts appear the whole remains/beautiful
This entry is a wrap of sorts, I suppose. Oddly enough, I feel like I’ve emerged on the other side of something. Passed through though not
These are the waters I neglected while I worked with my birds
Waters now, incidentally, filled with raw sewage.
Once I was all ocean–
Before there was any water there were
(we were all ocean once and fire)
tides of fire
The point is, I chose the birds. In choosing the birds, however, I also choose frustration and a sense that I was attempting something impossible.
Space in which I stand on a plain Alone
Though, of course, not impossible as in something heroic or impressive
Dreams in which the body is hollow
My impossibility is that sort of small wish–perhaps banal–to know more about the birds. That’s it.
the skull blooms
What has happened in the month since I’ve been home is that I’ve pushed through the possible and impossible (at least right now)–swinging from a temptation to give up the research entirely….
and, remember it is not a job in so much that a job = payment for services rendered; though, in work and frustration I would argue that it is a job.
…to attempting to bury myself in it somehow. To other thoughts outside the realm of this blog or even
I have wanted to efface myself
Anyway. Upon the suggestion of my collaborator (Dr. Gee), I’ve returned to reading the Naturalist books–A.S. Leopold, by Paul A. Johnsgard
In North America the term ‘quail’ has unfortunately been applied to virtually all of the smaller native odontophorine species, although in both size and relative tail length they might better be called partridges
…’colins’…derived from ‘zolin’, the Aztecan-language (Nahuatl) name for these birds
Johnsgard’s discussion of biogeography has me thinking–about movement over evolutionary time, about selection and drift. About time and about the overall patterns of these birds in their plumage, in their behavior, in them.
Whom fliest thou?
Here, at least/We shall be free
Questions about why these patterns of dichromatism in the Callipepla group–three with males and females of different colors (California, Gambel’s, elegant: C. californica, C. gambelii, C. douglassii) and one with colors the same between the sexes (scaled: C. squamata). Questions about the duetting of wood, tree and singing quails (Odontophorus, Dactylortyx, and Dactylortyx) and antiphonal calls of California and Gambel’s quail, for example. These sorts of things.
It is scribbled along the body/Impossible to even say around
So, in sum. My interests–NEW WORLD QUAIL
1) The evolution of the behavior of California quail at an individual level–how evolution has shaped their decisions and how their decisions and their evolved social glue affects their fitness (a proxy for the impact of an individual’s behavior on the evolution of traits).
chance is the only thing that really expresses/the longing for paradise
The evolution of New World quail–of the entire family Odontophoridae–forces driving diversification and geographical distribution.
some ash, enough energy held
These questions are mirrors and oddly enough
I/embrace as new/are in/fact old
attacking aspects of the bigger questions (in time, in number of species) seem more tenable to me right now than the smaller questions (individual, species, behavior) which require the observation of many individual quail, individual by individual over time. These bigger questions are more tenable because I can attack them in the lab using genomic approaches, in the field, in short spurts. The big questions are incredibly interesting to me though, and forever I suspect, my love will be watching a bird I watched the day before and the day before that–a bird I know from previous encounters, doing something, anything–living. It might be vocalizing or copulating; it might be as simple as appearing in the same place she has appeared every day, at the same time.
the map of my person
I will do this–there will be a time in my life to encounter those individuals. They may not wish me to attend to their lives but I’m determined to–
succor me/ and pray for my comfort.