For the past week, we have been experiencing an atmospheric inversion over the Bay that settles smoke and grunge close to the earth, obscuring the horizon and making breathing more difficult.
And so, I watch the birds, grateful for their resilience. If we humans complain about the increasingly foul air, the birds seem completely unconcerned. I love to watch them, and more than watch, I love to listen to their honks and trills. While geese honk overhead, hundreds of Least Sandpipers run in great drifting c0mmas up and down the shore, tinseling the air with their chorus of tiny peepings and pipings, sounding more like baby chicks than the full-grown birds they are. And then there are the great flocks of coots, grazing on the grassy stretches near Crab Cove, relatively silent and so uninterested in flight or water, they seem more like herds of placid fairy cows than birds.
They race about on their strange coral like feet, drifting this way and that, unconcerned with the more vociferous and ever present gulls that come sliding down to land on rocks, on sand but rarely on the great lawns so preferred by the American Coots.
Many of the shorebirds seem compacted as they float about on these colder darker oh-so-grey days of mid-winter. Wings clasped closely, necks tucked low, they bob on cold waters with an enviable patience that I feel as strongly as I do the escaping sun, and I value that patience, breathe it, taste it, hold it deeply inside my lungs. I am ever grateful toe the birds for buoying my spirit, reminding me of the coming of the light, the coming soon of spring.
Watching ducks, herons, egrets, gulls, sandpipers,lifting from the ground, resting on air, bobbing on waves, I am happy, once again connected to my beloved sea, stretching out beyond the mouth of the Bay, miles away but the birds can take me there.
The violence of city streets disappears. The dark of winter is washed with the light of wings. I cannot fly; I am not a bird, but I am inside the wind. I can taste it.