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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Remains of the day

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This is in the yard next to the old plum tree. I'm no wildlife expert, but I suspect that it is the last will and testament of a starling in its winter plumage. There's no obvious trace of the culprit, but there are wandering neighbor cats, and the occasional small hawk that perches in the old apple tree even in winter.

Starlings are non-native nuisances, of course, who travel in enormous flocks and crowd out other, more beloved birds. The fall of a sparrow may be a metaphor for the value of even the smallest living things, but the fall of a single starling is, I suppose, just a reminder of how damn many of them there are. Who would possibly notice the loss of a single starling when tens of thousands of them are wheeling above your head as you drive down an autumn highway with the leafless branches open to the sky?

But still. A flock of starlings that change direction in mid-flight against a glowing sky -- that is a sight that sticks with you, like ten thousand flying geometry textbooks illuminated over your head.

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