Carol and Clyde took part in a panel in Bozeman recently and it was there
they introduced me to the term “landsnorkeling.” It resonated. A few days later I
was skiing in the Bridgers with several other women and we took a few wrong turns
and low and behold decided we were lost. I succeeded in eliminating any fears by
telling them all that we were just snow snorkeling, how that’s related to
landsnorkeling and then what that’s all about. We managed to have fun finding our
way back, spending more time on decoding animal tracks than usual. It’s being a
“landscraper,” one who rakes in what one sees from those holy places
on which we stand, walk or ski. Much of the time when I am outdoors, I comb
the trees for sightings of birds. When I remember to bring binoculars with me,
how exciting to focus on one that’s magnified; it’s then I identify the species and
also take pleasure in their sometimes colorful markings. Carol invited me to post a
related poem on this blog and with it a recent painting that includes binos and an
aviary subject. Their web site is so inviting; I couldn’t turn her down.
8 BY 40 MIRADOR
I married a man who watches birds.
Before he ever focused on me came Christmas
bird counts. Each specie an aggregate
number on a list. The song sparrow equal
to the great horned owl, the peregrine falcon
to the red breasted nut hatch. Yet, the 50th bird more
wonderful then the 49th. While I watch so variously.
Bright feathers do make a difference
not affecting flight but engaging my fancy.
In reverie I’m reincarnated as a belted kingfisher.
The female of this species striking in blue
and orange, some dazzling white and a bit
of craziness in the punk style head feathers.
In the lens of my Mirador, the palette of bird
life slows down the shutter speed of my eyes.
Who can sight a summer tanager and not delay?
Surely the honey locusts here in the sun-blasted
southwest stir when a Lucy’s warbler poses
on one of its limbs. For my husband the next bird sighted
might add up to number 500. This lister- watcher,
I decide, operates so much like the male species.
And then he undercuts my brassy assumption
when I inquire of him what bird he’d like
to someday be. Surprise, “ a Black-Capped Chickadee.”
– June Safford