In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Subtle season

A song sparrow was hanging out near the bird feeder yesterday, looking fierce. I don't know his story. He doesn't make his winter home here, so he has come from away. But how far he has traveled, whether across the great Gulf of Maine or along the mighty St. Lawrence River, I can't say. Anyway, now he is here, hopping about below the bird feeder. He is small, and commonly regarded as common, and easily overlooked. Even in this picture you have to look closely to see him. He does not stand out, really. And yet he has just completed an astonishing feat.

Spring arrives on the island like this. The signs are subtle and at first glance nothing special. A few dark-eyed juncos arrived along with the song sparrows. I met one of them yesterday as he was sitting on a gnarly branch of the old pear tree. His beak was stuffed with the lichen called old man's beard. "Hello!" I said to him, "Welcome back!" He just looked at me, but he didn't fly off.

I wonder if I lived in a place that had a great variety of song birds whether I would take any notice of these commonplace birds. I think I would probably go for the showy types, the celebrity birds, the shiny bright ones, and not pay any attention to these. And yet they are miraculous, in a modest kind of way, and bear close watching, like this island spring itself.

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