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FRED FIRST: Turning Points of Note From a Season of Change

Crow Orthopedics: They are “my crows”, the five of them that come to the porch steps every day now, after approaching no nearer than the edge of the pasture last year. They know to expect my apple cores at noon, and from time to time, a half cup of sunflower seeds tossed into the wind. I have watched the one I call Gimp, healing slowly from a left leg injury that makes him (or her) spend little time in stance phase because it hurts. It doesn’t help that he is bottom of the peck order in this small murder of corvids. Will they come again next spring and wonder where I have gone? Will I wonder?

Often only 4 of the five appear, the fifth guarding the roost? Off running errands?

Swallows: Returned :: The first tree swallow appeared March 3, and two weeks later, they moved in. Now, six weeks on, though there is still some frustrated canoodling going on from the males still unpaired, those bachelors won’t contribute to the chicks already hatched. Yesterday, the appearance of the first white fecal pellet means both parents will be feeding constantly until the young have fledged. And shortly after that, they will vanish. Admiring them in flight last week, an accipiter (sharpshin?) appeared out of nowhere and one unlucky swallow exploded in a cloud of feathers. That’s the way I want to go. In a cloud of feathers. Never knew what hit him.

Gathering on the Nada Tree—a perch I made from a volunteer locust in 2020, still heavily used. I wish I had made half a dozen.

There and Here: Not So Different :: I have KOPN, the Columbia, Missouri (CoMo) radio station on my phone now. It is a part of my planned indoctrination into our future presence, certainly a reality for months by this time next year. I listened in the car while waiting for a friend. The laid-back radio host celebrated the Spring Beauties at the edge of his place, and also mentioned Mayapple, Trout Lily, and Trillium. He encouraged listeners to be looking for morels. I needed to hear that. Those people are not so different, nor the place, if you know where and how to see it.

At The Bottom of the Funnel: A friend with whom I share my future hopes told me how he imagined it might be in Como next year. He described a group ecotour last year in Central America. By the time the trip was over, he wanted to be lifetime friends with those with whom he had shared time and space, but also found a bonding by common interests and backgrounds that pre-selected them to be compatible. “It will that way for you at the community where you will be living. You will share far more with them than age.” I think that’s right. I hope that’s right.

Lenoir Woods Life Plan Community south of town, Columbia MO

Try and Catch the Wind: An ill wind blew a rocking chair off the porch last week; and roofing off a friend’s barn. I have waited for two weeks and will wait some more— for a calm day to broadcast grass seed over the bare spot where last year’s firewood was piled; but no. The coffee-talk has been much about the wind, and the question is: Are we imagining it, or have the winds picked up; and if so, why? It turns out, the answer is complicated: What evidence supports the claim that climate change is causing changes in wind patterns and intensity?

I write this final paragraph, finish the pot of coffee and climb back in bed for second sleep, and the first whippoorwill of the season insists in the dark from the edge of the April woods.

– Fred First is an author, naturalist, photographer watching Nature under siege since the first Earth Day. Cautiously hopeful. Writing to think it through. Thanks for joining me. Subscribe to My Substack HERE

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