On the Trail & ‘Round the Campfire

Welcome to my little diversion from the daily grind. Pull up a log or, just sit on yer’ fist and lean back on yer’ thumb (put a smiley face here) and let’s share a moment. I’ll throw another blog in the fire every now and then and, we’ll chew the fat about such mundane things as birds, nature, cowboys and the southwest, USA. I may even wax poetic or philosophical occasionally, but always honoring our creator. If you like something you read, please leave yer’ tracks.

Birding, Nature and Inspiration

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Besides tracking the seasons, birding is a migratory addiction, whether afoot or horseback.

Especially, here in the arid southwest birding is directly related to fresh water sources and migratory routes. A true birding "hot spot" is naturally connected with an oasis, a stop over for bird, man or beast. So major stands of willows, sycamores and poplars near a marshy place or running water, are natural birding hot spots. To find large Fremont Cottonwoods, lush and verdant-green in the spring and summer, and gorgeous citrine-yellow in late fall, invites the eyes of every living creature. A small stand of Fan Palms in some alluvial field of grasses or scrub is a beacon that directs traffic, a'hoof or flying. With some obvious geographical variations, basically the same pattern holds true, across the continent.

But, besides the parched desert floor, or the scrubby hills and plains, there are the surrounding magnificent mountains, rising over 10,000 feet. Entering each life zone is another nature experience of flora and fauna, and a person can experience each one on a half-day road trip. All these lush areas are not just food for the eyes, but awe-inspiring food for thought, for nature writers and poets alike.

So it is, that at such times, a birding walk is like carrying a pocket full of blessings—following my breath past rail fences, dark-eyed juncos twitter and flash their tails just ahead of me—and I covet the solitude of circling the woods.

And just to see them for another season—some hanging upside down—a half a dozen impulsive goldfinches, dressed now in winter tans. They do the dipsy-doodle in front of my horse, from clump to clump of fuzzy milkweed to fluffy cottontails of thistle. And past the nettles on the other side of the willows, a song sparrow volleys notes like crystal bells, then dashes in erratic flight, diving for cover in the berry brambles near the creek.

Riding on beneath the sycamores, there is a tasting room of claret berries, hanging heavy with purple clusters, inviting waxwings and thrushes and the occasional spotted towhee. Nearby, all puffed up, lark sparrows with hatpin breasts huddle in the tangle of a big old elderberry. The tree is dormant now, but during the early summer it was a busy feeding magnet for yellow-breasted chats and phainopeplas.

It is this sort of appreciation that has driven me to follow nature's seasons for years—I return to observe and to write—again and again. What seems never changing is ever changing—always new. So, this is the source of inspiration for the poems that follow...the imagery of one who shares a deep love of the great outdoors. Look for a new poem every now and then.

© Ed Keenan

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