Saturday, January 22, 2011

Twittering about Twitterers (the bird kind)

4:15 p.m. I'm sitting out on my patio trying to be as still as possible, hoping the birds will think I'm just a bumpy part of the wall and come back so I can get better closeups of them. I've been taking pictures from the inside, through the sliding glass door, which is fine, but I want better, closer pictures. But do you think they will cooperate? Of course not! Why would they do that?! I am looking straight at a male broad-tailed hummingbird who is looking at me...from the tip top of a a safe distance. I can see and hear other birds who are even closer, all of whom are pointedly ignoring the inviting enclosure that is my patio. From experience, I know that they will swarm the deck, so to speak, the minute I give up and go to the other side of the glass. But I'm determined to wait them out. I have nowhere else to go right now. And nothing better to do.

4:20 p.m. The hummingbird has been resting in that tree for quite awhile. Long enough for two others to join him. Oops. Now he's moved to a closer tree. Now a closer branch. Now back tothe top of the second tree. Wonder what he's thinking? He looks right, then left. Then straight ahead as if checking to see if I'm moving. Nope. Not going anywhere.

4:25 p.m. My cats are moving from door to glass window, wanting their piece of the sunshine. It'd be all over if they were to come outside, so of course I ignore their pleadings.

4:30 p.m. Now he's back to the farther taller tree, this time with his back to me. Now he's looking over his shoulder...and I can see the red puffing out under his chin. Now he's turned around and is facing my direction again. Looking right, then left, now giving me his profile. Will he? Won't he? Which way is he going to turn next? Whose patio is he going to grace with his presence?

4:35 p.m. A couple walks by and spots him in the treetop. He flashes his red at them and then takes off...out of sight. Maybe for the feeder he's been eyeing in that direction. Well, he'll be back. Yup. There he is! Wow! That was quick!

4:40 p.m. Meanwhile, the other birds are still snoozing, almost motionless, in the trees. Oops! He's off again. This time back to the other tree to visit with two friends. They wake up long enough to give him a glance but then ignore him again. He sits, waits. Waits for what?

4:45 p.m. Dogs bark in the distance, birds continue to chatter nearby. The wind gently ruffles the leaves of my oleander and shakes the limb that wholes the nectar that is waiting for this little fellow.

4:50 p.m. Last week, when I did not have my feeder out yet, he kept buzzing my ear and hanging right in my face as if to say WHERE is my food? So I went and got the feeder I'd put away until cooler weather came (to discourage the bees). Barely had I brought it out than he was buzzing my head, eager for the food.

4:55 p.m. Hmm. Now I'm wondering if there aren't two. The one I've been watching just dove down and buzzed right through my my neighbor's feeder. No sooner had left, when there was another back in the tree. Now that one just flew through my patio to the neighbor...and flew right back to the tree! Maybe there's only one. I really can't tell. But I didn't see it fly back that first time. It was just in the tree again. Wonder why he keeps passing my feeder by for hers? Perhaps I should freshen the nectar.

5:00 p.m. In any event...I could watch this play out all day...but that would also mean that the birds stay away all day...Oh! Here's a chatty house finch and an inca dove. Maybe more will start to come back...

5:10 p.m. 10 minutes later (after shooting (with my camera) dozens of finches)...yes, there ARE two! I just saw them fly by together. Cool!

5:20 p.m. And now there is new nectar and a different feeder out, this time one with yellow on it to attract his attention. We'll see now what happens. Yes, there he is back up in the tree, surveying the lay of the land...come on little guy! Come on!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Too Short - Too Long - Long Enough

I had the day off from school. Unusual in a boarding school setting. I was grateful for the day, but I am also grateful for the reason for the day. This holiday doesn't just celebrate the life of a powerful Civil Rights activists, it reminds us the importance of treating every human being with dignity and respect, and of supporting and protecting their rights as carefully and passionately as I do my own. Here's a poem about Martin Luther King, Jr. that I like to share with my students either the Friday before or the Tuesday after we have this day off:

Thirty-Nine Years - Too Short - Too Long - Long Enough
By Willa Perrier
from: A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul
(c) 1995 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

From 1929 to 1968 is only 39 short years.
Too short to gather the fruits of your labor
Too short to comfort your parents when your brother drowns
Too short to comfort your father when mother dies
Too short to see your children finish school
Too short to ever enjoy grandchildren
Too short to know retirement

Thirty-nine years is just too short.

From 1929 to 1968 is only 39 short years, yet it's
Too long to be crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination, it's
Too long to stand in the quicksand of racial injustices, it's
Too long to receive threatening phone calls, often at the rate of forty per day, it's
Too long to live under the sweltering heat of continuous pressure, it's Too long, 39 years is just too long.

From 1929 to 1968 is only 39 short years, yet it's
Long enough.
It's long enough to journey all the way to India to learn under a great teacher how to walk through angry crowds and keep cool.
It's long enough to be chased by police dogs and lashed by the rushing waters from the fireman's hoses because you are dramatizing the fact that justice has a way of eluding me and my brother.
It's long enough to spend many days in jail while protesting the plight of others.
It's long enough to have a bomb thrown into your home.
It's long enough to teach angry violent men to be still while you pray for the bombers.
It's long enough.
It's long enough to lead many men to Christianity.
It's long enough to know it's better to go to war for justice than to live in peace with injustices.
It's long enough to know that more appalling than bigotry
and hatred are those who sit still
and watch injustices each day in silence.
It's long enough to realize that injustices are undiscriminating
and people of all races and creeds experience
its cruel captivity sooner or later.
It's long enough.
It's long enough to know that when one uses civil disobedience
for his civil rights, he does not break the laws of the
Constitution of the United States of America - rather he seeks
to uphold the principles all men are created equal; he seeks
to break down local ordinances that have already broken the
laws of the Constitution of the United States.
It's long enough.
It's long enough to accept invitations to speak to the nation's leaders.

It's long enough to address thousands of people on hundreds of different occasions.
It's long enough to lead 200,000 people to the nation's capital
to dramatize that all of America's people are heirs to the
property of rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It's long enough to enter college at 15.
It's long enough to finish and earn several degrees.
It's long enough to earn hundreds of awards.
It's long enough to marry and father four children.
It's long enough to become a drum major for peace.
It's long enough to earn a Nobel Peace Prize.
It's long enough to give the $54,000 prize money to the cause of justice.
It's long enough to visit the mountain top.
It's certainly long enough to have a dream.

When we note how much Martin Luther King packed into 39 short years, we know it's long enough for any man who loves his country
and his fellow man so much that life itself has no value -
unless all men can sit at the table of brotherhood as brothers.
Thirty-nine years is long enough - for any man to knowingly
flirt with death each day of his life - because to spare himself
heartaches and sorrow meant two steps backward for his brother

Martin lived for several centuries, all rolled into 39 short
years. His memory will live forever. How wonderful it would be
if we could all live as well.

Martin, like all others, would have welcomed longevity - yet
when he weighed the facts, he said, "It's not how long a man
lives, but how well he uses the time allotted him."

And so we salute and honor the memory of a man who lived in
the confusion of injustice for all his too short, too long,
long enough 39 years- "For He's Free At Last."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fanfare for a Fragile Life

Tonight's Tucson Memorial Service began with Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man." A lovely and powerful way to begin a time of reflection, celebration, and encouragement. Written to commemorate America's entrance into World War II, the Fanfare was also Copland's tribute to all who contributed to victory, especially those not in the spotlight.

I was reminded of the role of the "common" person several times tonight throughout the speeches and readings. In between the tears and admiration came the realization, or maybe I should say reminder, that life is fragile. These were common, ordinary folks thrust into an extraordinary situation not of their making or choosing who did not shrink from the service of their country or neighbor.

I was inspired. And humbled. It could have been me. It could have been any of us on any given Sunday.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Greatest Hazard

“To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.”

One of my freshmen students posted this as his Facebook status this evening. Seemed more profound than what I normally get from him so I Googled it. "Author Unknown." Still, I credit him for realizing something of depth and sharing it with his friends. He got quite a discussion going from it.

Speaking of freshmen. I'm so glad they grow up! Some days that's all that gets me through a class with them. I love them dearly. But they do challenge me...sometimes...