Winter Birds

There are at least four wild turkeys hanging out on our property this winter — when I went out with one of the terriers this morning they clattered up through the spruce trees by the creek. We see their huge tracks in the snow and they dig around under the bird feeders to pick up what has gone deeper than the other ground-feeders can get to. I also saw a grouse under the feeders the other evening — surprising because they are generally so shy that you only see them as a blur when you accidentally flush one while walking in the woods. We also have our usual nuthatches and woodpeckers and chickadees. I always appreciate the birds more in winter when they are the most lively thing in the landscape.

Bird Song and Truck Horns

Slept for twelve hours and now feel much more human. The sun is just coming up in Hanoi and I can hear birds singing in the trees below my hotel window and the first tentative truck horns of the morning. Vietnam is full of wonderful birds, big singers with wild plumage to dun little sparrow-like birds who flicker among the leaves like animated shadows. The Vietnamese love bird and bird song–so much so that they catch and cage them–you see lovely bamboo cages everywhere. The birds are typically pampered and moved in and out of doors as the weather permits, so it is probably sentimental that when I see them caged, I wish the birds free.

Dawn Birds

Even before dawn, when the sky is just lightening around four o’clock, a few birds begin turning up. I don’t know which birds they are — from the timbre they might be robins, but this is not daylight robin song. Just a kind of quiet noodling around. Lovely to lie there in the dark listening then drift back down into sleep.

Moral Disorder

Margaret Atwood is a terrific writer. I picked up her collection of stories, Moral Disorder, in the Vancouver airport a couple of days ago and have been reading it in little sips. There is a transparency to the prose that creates an acute sense of the real. (I am in love with the real.) But what really gets to me is a tone of detached good humor that is deeply intelligent without the least bit of showing off. As I’m now a beginning writer of short stories, I take these as models to aspire to.