Date: 9/23/17 11:10 am
From: Herschel Raney <herschel.raney...>
Subject: Winding down deeper
Crow gangs ply my treetops, always talking. I see their dark shapes
going by even in my office.

A gray squirrel goes up my dying hickory spire. Clearly a place of no
nuts. It is the tree that has been going for over ten years now. I have
predicted to my wife that this is the winter it will fall. Anyway, I see
the squirrel come down soon after with a large seed pod of a Trumpet
vine. He goes head down and off somewhere. Surely a full meal for a
squirrel. Though he likely is tucking it in somewhere. Still a
comforting fact to know that squirrels forget where they put 80 % of
their stash. I may not quite be up to 80 per cent yet.

Out back a noise like a Cooper’s Hawk cut-cut cut-cutting down low near
the creek. But up in the trees above I see a Red-shouldered Hawk and
then another. Neither of them is making the noise. I see a third
Red-shoulder and I have to walk towards the lowest calling bird. Jays
are whirling around us all. The hawks are rarely making hawk cries but
the jays are making them expertly every time one does. As though their
imitation is much better right after hearing an actual hawk. Excellent
practice I suppose. Finally the caller comes up and it is another
Red-shoulder. Some kind of group hawk interaction that I don’t
understand clearly. Perhaps the lower bird made a bird kill. Perhaps
even a jay since the jays were so interested. I will never know.
Everything moves east soon after.

At the mailbox a singer. And with my rule of “if you can tell what birds
are being imitated it is a mocker and not a thrasher” this was a
whispery mocker, hiding up in the brush and vines. Doing (in no
particular order) American Robin, Purple Martin, Scissor-tailed
Flycatcher, White-throated Sparrow, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern
Kingbird, Carolina Wren, Painted Bunting, Northern Cardinal. He sings on
still as I walk away.

Over the swamp more jays in the leaves which are browning and yellowing
and oranging in the early herbaceous surrender.

A Sharp-shinned Hawk goes over and then a crow and the chase is on. Fast
spiral with the crow catching up and then losing the race. They must
have gone around about six times in my sight.

Orb weavers everywhere. End-of-summer sized. A Hackberry Emperor twirls
in their threads along with several falling leaves. (I start to write
fallen but it is not quite. Wittgenstein, of course, would say these
leaves are both: fallen and falling.) Every thing seems solemn though,
even in the bright sunshine. Fall is two days old. And though I hate to
say it aloud, winter officially doesn’t start until December.

As always, I am unprepared for any of it.

Herschel Raney

Conway AR

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