[Tweeters] Fill patience

Connie Sidles constancesidles at gmail.com
Sun Jan 18 02:15:03 PST 2009

Hey tweets, I ran into Brett Wolfe and Zsolt Farkas yesterday morning,
and they cheerfully informed me that they had been inside the Surber
grove and had found three Winter Wrens. I have been after this year-
bird for weeks now, knowing they were probably in that grove and never
finding a thing. "That does it," I told them. "I'm going to go over
there and sit until I see one, even if it takes until March."

I have often thought how lovely it would be to go to the Fill and
never come back to any other reality. No need to punch the clock, no
family train wrecks to put back on the rails, no yard to weed. There's
an unoccupied pole that sticks up in the marsh on Union Bay. Pole
saints in the Middle Ages would have found it more than adequate, and
why not I too? The Laurelhurst neighbors might object, and there's
probably some kind of city ordinance against permanent loitering on a
pole, but it is still tempting. Imagine experiencing the seasons as
they spin by, expressed by the comings of some birds and the goings of

I sat on my camp stool in the heart of the grove and waited. When you
go deep into that grove, all the birds fall silent and hide. You have
to be really patient before they come out again. Usually, I stay for
only 15 minutes or so and if nothing comes out, I leave. But since I
had made up my mind to sit there until March, mere minutes had lost
all meaning. Time passed, but how much time I had no idea. Eventually,
the birds began to accept me into their place and they came out in
droves: Black-capped Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, a couple of Ruby-
crowned Kinglets who fed almost at my feet, three Steller's Jays who
foraged in the brush and were remarkably difficult to see - you'd
think their bright blue feathers would make them stand out from the
browns and beiges of the winter foliage, but no.

As life picked up all around me, I began to take the time to notice
the little things I usually miss: the way the slight breeze lifted a
few feathers under a chickadee's throat, the bright shoe-button eyes
of a Song Sparrow, the way a Bewick's Wren exuberantly flung aside a
leaf in its search for a spider. I heard two Winter Wrens singing very
softly nearby but did not see them. No matter. March was still some
weeks away. In the meantime, a BROWN CREEPER began to ascend a tree,
hitching itself along like a miniature funicular. A COOPER'S HAWK
appeared out of nowhere, paused in a poplar for a moment, let out a
melodious screech (if screeches can be so described) and joined a
*second* Cooper's in another poplar. I think they are a pair, and
perhaps they will give us more hawks this season.

Then I heard a little noise behind me, and turned in time to see a
tiny round body with a stubby tail dive into a tuft of grass, then
emerge briefly to give me a perfect look. Winter Wren at last.

I was smiling as I folded up my camp stool and tiptoed away. Back to
reality, yes, but the Fill will be there waiting, always. - Connie,

constancesidles at gmail.com

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