Slate-colored snowbirds

Slate-colored snowbirds

Firstly, I like the idea of a ‘snow’ bird being the colour of slate.  And being obsessed with colours and the names we give them, I notice how many hues and shades can only be described in reference to something of that colour.  Elsewhere Thoreau describes...
Detonations of flight

Detonations of flight

An original way to capture the sudden soaring of a flock of birds.  A few weeks ago, a flock of a few hundred descended on the garden, half strutting about the lawn yanking elastic and reluctant worms out of the ground, the other half congregating in the apple tree,...
Sawyer-like strain

Sawyer-like strain

Having always associated ‘sawyer’ with Tom of the same name, it never occurred to me that, like many surnames, it is also a livelihood, in this case, that of sawing wood for a living.  Thoreau uses it to describe the sawing sound of the ovenbird, an...
Joy as flaring kingfisher

Joy as flaring kingfisher

A marvelous metaphor this, the piercing joy of seeing a darting kingfisher.  May you experience many such kingfisher-flaring moments. ‘That night and the night after and the night after, wherever she went, always in her own little circle of intimates, she...
A lyre-bird among carrion-crows

A lyre-bird among carrion-crows

Well, if you’re going to outshine your peers, let it be by such a striking margin.  Here Leigh Fermor is referring to the paintings of Albrecht Altdorfer (c. 1480-1538). ‘But he outshines his fellow-Danubians like a lyre-bird among carrion-crows.’...
Winter-defying hawk

Winter-defying hawk

What majesty in this triologism – a hawk thriving despite a New England winter. ‘The warmest springs hardly allow me the glimpse of a frog’s heel as he settles himself in the mud, and I think I am lucky if I see one winter-defying hawk or a hardy...
A peep of chickens

A peep of chickens

‘Peep’ is for chicks, surely, but when they grow up, it doesn’t quite work.  How about instead: a haggle of hens, a pecking of chickens or a brooding or clucking of either … the latter evoking that contented, almost purring sound hens make when...

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