Yesterday’s Animals

This is a post-script to my post from two days ago about the animals I see on my long runs. Right now is an especially active time in the hills behind my apartment — late spring, as the summer heat is really beginning to come in (albeit inconsistently), in a year that saw extraordinary amounts of rain. This winter’s rains, of course, came after several years of historic drought, so many plants that went dormant to survive the drought are coming back with a vengeance. This means, of course, more food for the little animals, meaning more little animals, meaning more food for the big animals.

On yesterday’s run, an 8-mile run in which I climbed almost exactly 1,300 feet — over 100 feet per mile is a lot of uphill — I didn’t see any mammals except for squirrels. But the birds — oh, the birds! At the end of my third mile, I hobbled to some shade atop a ridge looking north out towards the Carquinez Strait. The wind was whipping up through the valley and birds were singing and it was peaceful. I stood long enough and quietly enough that the birds began zooming back and forth. They were gorgeous red-winged blackbirds.

Elsewhere, I saw another small passerine bird with a funny yellow coloring I’ve never seen before. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what it is. I really need to get a copy of the Audubon Society Guide to North American Birds for the Western Region.

Later in the run, I came across the largest family of ducks I’ve ever seen, swimming in one of the small ponds that has been empty for at least a year, but now continues to hold water. There were close to a dozen ducklings, getting on into their adolescence, who simply refused to let me take their picture. I would approach to photograph them, and they would do that funny run-swim thing to a part of the pond hidden from me, the mother duck following calmly behind. I would move, and they would do the same thing again. Again and again.

Unable to take a picture, I was reminded of the exchange in Dave Eggers’ The Circle, in which the protagonist, Meg, is accosted for having gone kayaking alone. She saw beautiful things on her trip, but nobody else was able to share them with her. And isn’t that secrecy just another kind of stealing, taking a knowledge or experience and refusing to share it with people unable to be there? The message of The Circle is that this line of reasoning has some logical backbone and follows much of the tech industry’s thinking, but followed to its extreme is just absurd. Privacy is good, and private experiences are good. I have mine, you have yours, and that’s the way it should be.

I do like having my blog to share them, though, when I have the time to write.


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