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Along the Inland Sea

Thursday, October 23, 2014

 Writing from a hotel in Columbus, where I'm waiting to go on WOSU to do an hour of fun fundraising with my sweet dear friend Ann Fisher, who constantly amazes me with her grasp of diverse issues and ability to interview anyone in depth, fearlessly, smoothly and kindly. If you want to listen/watch, it's at this link.  If you've got good Net, which I don't, you can watch! Eee! Good thing I dressed in my best torn up top. At 18:14 I read a commentary about Fergus, the bird-eating bullfrog. Makes me realize how very much I miss radio, miss performing commentaries on All Things Considered. Ah well. We raised around $2,000 in an active hour of wheedling. I adore Ann Fisher and it's clear Columbus does too.

On my way into campus last night, a spirit tapped me on the shoulder and told me to scan the building tops. "There's something up there for you," he whispered. Sitting at the light, I looked up far to my left, thought I saw a remote camera. Or was it a juvenile peregrine, perched above the L in LIVE IT? B. A deep charcoal black dream of a bird, calmly preening where only I could see it. This is why we listen to the little voice, why we carry binoculars in the car, everywhere we go. Yes, it made my day. I parked at my hotel and ran the half-mile back to properly ogle it. Looked big. Probably a hen, born this year. In Columbus? Who could say? There is a nesting pair in town, but it's also time for dispersing juveniles to be finding new places to live, heading south. She seemed a little surprised that I noticed her, but it didn't stop her sorting through her fluffy pantaloons. Best I could do with my iPhone steadied on a trash can. Yes, sometimes I yearn for my telephoto, but I tend not to take it to cities. I ought to. Wildlife is everywhere, if you're watching.

But with this post we're back in Ithaca, where my friend Joyce, whom I met during Joy of Birding at Hog Island Audubon Camp, has kindly offered to take me on a guided tour of Montezuma NWR, up north at the head of Cayuga Lake. I jumped at the chance to spend a day birding on my busy trip.

We stopped by Ithaca's fabulous Green Star Co-op, where you can get everything from lentils and bran to vegan tuna toenails in bulk, and picked up some sammitches. I chose Vegetarian Tuna, not realizing that it had never so much as been waved in front of a fish. Maybe I thought that meant it was made from vegetarian tunas, who ate kelp or something. I guess I don't know what I was thinking. I had Montezuma brain. Turns out I had bought textured vegetable protein bathed in some kind of vegonnaise, masquerading as tuna. Got a couple of bites into it. Texture convincing. No tang o' the sea. I scratched my head and looked at the label again.

Hmmm. Something about vegetables being made to pretend to be other food. Nuhhh. I ate it anyway, and resolved to be a little more label-conscious next time. It wasn't so bad. Zick. You fool.

The day was so beautiful I settled back, burping vegan Tu-Nuh, and dove into the trees and sky.

Vineyards abounded.

You don't see sheep farms in Ohio.

The sheep looked like scattered boulders out there, and the sky looked like North Dakota.The wind roared like that too. I fell into a momentary reverie of prairie.

That's what I love about travel--the way it neatly excises you from whatever trench you're in and refreshes your outlook with a vista, a color wash, a bracing gust in your ear.

I felt blessed to be on this road on this day with Joyce, the woods coming into peak color.

We sped north to Montezuma, rolling along the edge of this huge inland sea.

And the grapevines turned yellow from the bottom up.


Ah, yes... the little voice! People sometimes think that I am speaking figuratively when I talk about mine, but I mean it quite literally. Not an actual physical voice... but almost a niggling private whisper in my mind, telling me to look there, or buy this item, or read this book. I never regret listening to the little voice, and while it inevitably leads me to things that will either improve my life or delight me, sometimes it even leads me to drastic changes in my life -- always for the better.

Thanks for the link to the interview; I look forward to watching it tonight!

Posted by Anonymous October 23, 2014 at 4:24 AM

Remind me to tell you about a former product from a "veggie" food company. Tune-No or Tu-No or some such name.

Artificial tuna flavor / scent is not to be fooled with.

We're lucky enough to visit the Cayuga basin area frequently so I've been to Montezuma a half-dozen times. And every time, without exception, it has rained. Or snowed...
But when I watch 16 Sandhill Cranes calling to each other, it's all worth it.

Posted by Anonymous October 23, 2014 at 6:40 AM

Re the interview: You mentioned that grackles are declining in your area. Here in Delaware, I've not noticed any decline. In fact, for the past month or so, we've had more grackles in our yard than I've ever seen. Especially around lunch time. Just after lunch, I lie down for a nap, and on fine days I crack the window open. The air is filled with their squeaky hinge sounds! They are in all the trees, and feeding at our feeders. I commented to my husband that I thought they would have flown south for the winter by now. In any case, i am glad to see/hear them!

Posted by Anonymous October 24, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Thank you for another great post, Julie! Makes me feel like getting on the road again....

I miss you on NPR too! It was always a special moment on my commute home to have an update from Whipple. Was just in Marietta this past weekend. What a pretty place!


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