“You’ll think this is a bit silly, but I’m a bit–well, I have a thing about birds.”
“What, a phobia?”
“Well, that’s the common term for an irrational fear of birds.”
“What do they call a rational fear of birds, then?”
“Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage.”
― Ray Bradbury
Frank Campagna is one of the owners of Kettle Gallery and is one of the earliest artists and supporters of Deep Ellum’s latest renaissance. I took a mural tour of Deep Ellum once, lead by Frank, and it was really fun. Not only did I learn some of the philosophy of urban murals – he and I are approximately the same age and his tales of Deep Ellum in one of its earlier heydays in the 1980’s were parallel to some of my more hazy memories.
I guess there’s just two kinds of people, Miss Sandstone, my kind of people, and assholes. It’s rather obvious which category you fit into.
—-Connie Marble, Pink Flamingos
“Kids must spend half their lives throwing things at the ducks in Regent’s Park. How come he managed to pick a duck that pathetic?”
― Nick Hornby, About a Boy
I have a list of goals that I work towards. One of those goals was to buy a new camera. My old one was good, but getting long in the tooth. There have been a lot of advances in sensor technology in the last few years. I have been saving since the middle of 2015 and finally crabbed together enough to buy a Nikon D3300 (thanks to everyone that helped).
Learning to use a new camera, especially a new DSLR, is more of a daunting task than you would think. Everything becomes so instinctive it’s like starting out all over again. The sharper images in the new camera are a lot less forgiving – every error is magnified.
So I take bags of old moldy bread out to the ponds and creek behind my house to attract the semi-wild life there and practice. I’ll have more than a few photos of ducks for a while.
“…as the slow sea sucked at the shore and then withdrew, leaving the strip of seaweed bare and the shingle churned, the sea birds raced and ran upon the beaches. Then that same impulse to flight seized upon them too. Crying, whistling, calling, they skimmed the placid sea and left the shore. Make haste, make speed, hurry and begone; yet where, and to what purpose? The restless urge of autumn, unsatisfying, sad, had put a spell upon them and they must flock, and wheel, and cry; they must spill themselves of motion before winter came.”
― Daphne du Maurier, The Birds and Other Stories
“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.”
― Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption: A Story from Different Seasons
On of my favorite things is the reflective pool in front of the Winspear Opera House in the Dallas Arts District.
For some reason, it has been dry for quite some time. Finally, late this summer, a thin layer of water has reappeared. I went down for another free concert – but was tired and only attracted to some stray birds bathing in the liquid.
“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”
― Willie Nelson
It is late in the day – later than I thought – too late… though I have no idea what it is too late for. I am on my bicycle and worn out – long since dropped down into my emergency gear so I can get home alive. Everyone else has given up and I should be waiting on my train, but I am anxious and can’t help finding some murals and taking some pictures.
Close to our bows, strange forms in the water darted hither and thither before us; while thick in our rear flew the inscrutable sea-ravens. And every morning, perched on our stays, rows of these birds were seen; and spite of our hootings, for a long time obstinately clung to the hemp, as though they deemed our ship some drifting, uninhabited craft; a thing appointed to desolation, and therefore fit roosting-place for their homeless selves. And heaved and heaved, still unrestingly heaved the black sea, as if its vast tides were a conscience; and the great mundane soul were in anguish and remorse for the long sin and suffering it had bred.
The reality is in this head. Mine. I’m the projector at the planetarium, all the closed little universe visible in the circle of that stage is coming out of my mouth, eyes, and sometimes other orifices also.
–Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
I have been to the Trinity River Audubon Center once before – when I rode my bike there to visit Ruben Ochoa’s sculpture Flock in Space. It had been installed there as part of the Nasher Xchange sculpture series. I rode my bike across the city, visiting all ten and writing about it.
This morning I took a look at the internet, looking for something to do and came across a listing that pointed out that admission to the Audubon Center is only a buck in July and August. This might seem a little odd to someone not from here – why would admission to an outdoor center be reduced during the height of the summer? It is, of course, because the summer is flooded with toxic heat.
So I drove down there as close to opening in the morning as I could manage and it wasn’t too bad. At least not for a few minutes. I paid my dollar (an put some more in the donation bucket) and started walking the trails. They advised to check out the wetland and prairie trails first and then visit the shady wooded section – as the day warmed up.
It warmed up fast – the temperature climbed to over the century mark within a couple hours. I did carry my insulated growler full of iced water and that helped a lot.
The Center has a few miles of trails and I was able to walk them all. Even though it was hot and dry (most of the wetlands were more like mudlands) I enjoyed the variety of the geography – swampy, open areas, and thick woods. The Center is built on a recovered landfill and that gives it an array of terrain you don’t see in such a small place in North Texas.
I didn’t take to many photographs, but I had a good time and want to go back soon.
Especially when it isn’t so hot.
When you come around one certain spot in the White Rock Lake trail you pass a band of trees that line the water’s edge. There are a number of very large birds (I know nothing of what they are) that are always hanging out in these certain trees. I don’t know if it is the location or the species of trees that attracts these birds – but they are always there and I don’t see them anywhere else.
The amount of bird shit is distressing. The caustic guano kills everything. I even think there is so much nitrogen that it is killing the trees themselves. I know bird shit is a fertilizer and should help the plants…. but everything is a remedy and a poison – it all depends on the dose.
The birds must live off of fresh water fish that they catch by diving from their lofty perch. In addition to the usual acrid smell of shit – there is an overpowering fishy odor.