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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Scarlet among Black and White

    The fog hung thick in the trees. Around noon, the fog momentarily lifted and a chorus of birds sang out. I slowly opened the front door and watched as birds gathered in the tops of hickory trees. Without thick foliage to hide among, they were easy to spot. I quickly retrieved my binoculars and sat on the doorstep bird-watching. I don’t feed the birds, because it is can be harmful for wild birds to become dependent upon humans. Therefore, my feathered friends seldom come here to party. This visit was a special treat.
    Upon close examination I determined that the flock was made up of a variety of different birds. Many of them were black-and-white warblers as well as other warblers species. I also identified a blue bird, humming bird, Carolina wren, and some nuthatches and flycatchers. I heard vireos and downy woodpeckers in the distance.
    Then, high in a tree top I saw the red silhouette of a graceful bird: the scarlet tanager. Unlike many songbirds, the tanager is not round but lean. His unmistakable red feathers glimmer vibrantly in contrast to his starch black wings. As I watched him perched, he eyed me. Then he sung his unique and varying tune, not his common "chick-burr" call. His elegant song echoed high above the chirping and twittering of the warblers.
    Then just as quickly as they had come, they all flew onward; leaving a quite emptiness in the naked branches. Soon the mist swirled back into the forest, and only the rain’s song remained. 

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