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Bird Miracles, and Why Shila's So Cool

Friday, June 9, 2006

First flight: young robin, probably 16 days old. Photo by Shila Wilson.

Even though she has been ridiculously busy lately with work and family stuff and helping sick friends and packing for a trip to New York and making fabulous prints and having her car broken into and looking for her keys, my friend Shila follows the butterfly. She knows that when natural moments present themselves, we must settle down and watch. Robins, itching to fledge, are not going to wait until we're ready for them. This is the first time a robin has nested so close to Shila's house--all she had to do was open the kitchen window to photograph them. She'd call me with progress reports and questions about fecal sacs, all that good bird stuff. The babies were bursting out of the nest, flapping and stretching and preening, and Shila knew something was going to go down. But she never expected to hit the shutter button at the moment the first one took off, into the wild green yonder. This is why I love Shila.

Big day here. I got a postcard in the mail today that made me turn off the car, put my head on the steering wheel, and weep for joy. I'll tell you all about it Monday. I'm going to garden and paint this weekend. As to things I can't do: keep my house, with two kids going full bore all day long, navigable and presentable. I have met my Waterloo, and his name is Liam. But I am going to try to reclaim it by Monday. We'll see what wins: real life, with all its miraculous distractions, or the artificial and oh-so-ephemeral state of cleanliness. I have so many cool photos and stories to tell; so much has happened in the last few days, that I'm on overload. Almost 10K photos on my computer, and I can't stop shooting. Shila knows the feeling. May she never stop shooting!

I'm really going to miss showing you baby birds. Crazy cool stuff. Remember the three hatchling tree swallows I served up on a cracker for you? Well, here they are at Day 17. We've changed not at all in that three-week span, and they have grown all the way up.And here is one of those little swallows at Day 20, sitting proudly on the wire leading to our house, chirping with that peculiar jingling tone unique to fledgling tree swallows. It fledged only this morning, and flew the length of the meadow on its first flight. Imagine that. From helpless hors d'ouvre, pink and squirmy, to elegant flying machine in only 20 days. This is the miracle I witness over and over, and never manage to get over.


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