Lying in the hammock, searching for my words, I come up with nothing, so I consult the birds. They lift up off my trees to circle in a ring as though they’re reconnoitering every single thing.
Swooping to partake of swirling clouds of gnats, eying all my fruit trees, teasing both the cats, who, crouched up on the roof, dream culinary wishes— far above their heads, those tiny feathered fishes
far out of their reach, but so mesmerizing that they far exceed temptation of squirrel or of rat. Cats find bird movements insolent, drifting high up there. Such an outrê thing to do, floating in the air!
Although these birds are of different species, they have one thing in common, in that they are domesticated birds who also happen to live in restaurants. Who could order chicken with these handsome fellows in clear constant view? Click on the photos to enlarge and read their stories.
And this fine fellow was strutting around yet another terrace restaurant in Ajijic.
Whereas this fellow helped to clear off tables in his owner’s open-air palapa restaurant overlooking the coastline in Michoacan, Mexico.
The soup was so good that he even licked the spoon!
A couple of hours of looking through old photos of the non-digital sort yielded two photos of the blackbirds whose sunset flights were described in this poem. In these photos, they have not yet gathered into the chains they form to fly to the cornfields between Chapala and Guadalajara. Here they are just lifting out of the acres of cattails that rimmed the lake back when it was shrinking in size. This is just one wave of birds. After it lifted, there would have been another and another—tens of thousands of birds—as I recall, some yellow-winged and some red-winged blackbirds. In the years since then, the lake has thankfully come up to its original banks, as at the time I moved here in 2001 there were places in which you had to take a taxi from the pier to get out to the lake. It was estimated that the lake would be totally gone within five years, but luckily people banded together to save it. I’m glad to have the lake restored and there are still thousands of white pelicans as well as numerous egrets and herons and other birds, but I do miss those glorious swells of blackbirds.
(If you want to see the birds, you need to click on photos to enlarge them.)
Night lifting of blackbirds from the cattails .
Snowy egrets still abound lakeside.
Thousands of white pelicans winter at the lake, then and now.
Blackbirds flocking to fly to the cornfields between Chapala and Guadalajara. And to the trees in town plazas.
I still can’t figure out what this is sticking out of the top of this gull’s head. It looked like a toothpick or a porcupine quill. Or perhaps the big spine from a cactus. I guess I should try to fabricate a story about how it got there.gull