Posts Tagged ‘feathers’

DUCK IMG02266-20110502-1332 AUTO c

Mother Mallard, BlackBerry Shots, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, April 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Day in and day out
humans race from place to place;
nature sits rain or shine, not tossed away
for that one wild chance — ducklings on Mother’s Day.

NOTE: I’ve been checking on Mother Mallard every day since I first saw her little nest of eggs (see Nesting & Resting) in a high traffic area near an industrial complex. She sits patiently through volatile storms, human insensitivity, rushing wind and rain, days when the Sun warms her nest. She never wavers. I learn from her, as I often learn from Mother Nature — don’t be tossed away.

-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, May 7th, 2011, World Labyrinth Day

-related to posts: WRITING TOPIC — LIGHT AS A FEATHER, haiku 4 (one-a-day) Meets renga 52, MN Black Bear Den Cam: Will Lily Have Cubs?

Read Full Post »

DUCK EGGS IMG02219-20110427-1152 auto color

Duck Eggs, processed version of Nesting – 17/52, Week 17 Jump-Off, BlackBerry 52, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, April 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

A mallard has taken up residence outside the door of a busy commercial building I visit each day. She sits on the eggs at night. By day, the human foot traffic keeps her away. So she covers the nest with down and dried umber leaves. They blend easily with the gravel and cement. Adaptability. The humans who inhabit the building keep watch over her eggs; smokers on break are eager to depart the latest news. I watch and wait in silence, hoping for a hatching of ducklings in the middle of a wintry Spring.

The original photograph was posted as the Week 17 Jump-Off for BlackBerry 52. Lotus and I will respond to each other’s BlackBerry photos with text, photography, poetry (however we are inspired) for the 52 weeks of 2011. You can read more at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration. If you are inspired to join us, send us a link to your images, poetry, or prose and we’ll add them to our posts.

-posted on red Ravine, Friday, April 29th, 2011

-related to post: Of Thirsty Snakes And Ducks With Dry Bills

Read Full Post »

OWL FEATHER 2-IMG01800-20110218-1034 AUTO

Owl Feather Study In Blue 2, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

OWL FEATHER 5-IMG01803-20110218-1035 AUTO

Owl Feather Study In Blue 5, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

OWL FEATHER 4-IMG01808-20110218-1037 AUTO

Owl Feather Study In Blue 4, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

OWL FEATHER 3-IMG01802-20110218-1035 AUTO

Owl Feather Study In Blue 3, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

OWL FEATHER 1-IMG01801-20110218-1034 AUTO

Owl Feather Study In Blue 1, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
February 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

It was a windy 10 degrees when I found this downy owl feather blowing across a parking lot. I decided to photograph it with my BlackBerry over a break. The bright sun made the shadows pop against the texture of my lunch bucket. Feathers are symbolic. Ordinary as extraordinary.

Yesterday we drove down to Monticello, Minnesota to see the wintering Trumpeter Swans. Again, two downy swan feathers floated across the observation site and landed by my foot. I’ve added them to my feather collection. Hope is the thing with feathers. And, thanks to Yves Klein, I think I’ve entered my Blue Period.

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, February 20th, 2011


Read Full Post »

The last feather I saw was a curved downy fluff next to Mr. StripeyPants on the bed. The two comforters are filled with the down of the goose. One is cinnamon, new and soft and fresh. The other, faded pink, old and wearing thin. We have patched the mauve one several times. But alas, there is another tiny hole somewhere. And once in a while, we see a feather or two dropped on carpet, or stuck in the thread of the flannel sheets.

I don’t have my feathers out since I moved in with Liz. With 3 cats, it’s impossible. They love to grab them between their teeth, carry them around like a mouse, shake their heads, munch a little, and drop them near their food bowls. I used to have a circle of feathers on my altar in my old apartment. I would fill a blue glass antique bottle with sand I collected from the Atlantic or Pacific, and push the hollow tips of the feathers down into sand crystals, making a semi-circle of color.

I have found owl feathers before on walks through the woods. The 2 prize feathers are Bald Eagle, given to me by an explorer friend who kayaked in the Northwestern corner of Washington State. One is white, a tail feather. I had never seen one that close before she gifted me with it. She had gotten permission from one of the Native American tribes she was visiting to pick a few up from the forest floor. She said she saw hundreds of eagles flying the area on that kayak trip.

I keep thinking of the feathers flying from the mouth of the hawk in the Galway Kinnell poem when the hawk eats the jay. And I remember one of our readers talking about seeing the actual act, hawk devouring jay, last month on a walk through the city. The closest I have come to seeing a bird of prey hunt, is an osprey on the finger of Long Lake up in the Boundary Waters. I was on a week canoe trip and my two friends had gone off hiking for the day. I stayed behind on a gravel bar beach, slipped my journal out of the waterproof covering, and wrote.

I looked up from a line to see an osprey dive under the water like a rocket, and shoot back up to the sky with a fish in her talons. I will never forget that sight. What comes naturally to her is my treasure. I watched her on the lake for what must have been 30 minutes. Then she flew off into the distance. I didn’t see her again. Some days I long for the solitude of a trip like that, to be away from civilization as we know it, on bodies of water or untrampled earth. Something about the water though, and there is a lot of it here.

Water. Fluid. And in Winter, firm.

It’s warmer this morning, rising 6 degrees since I arose from sleep. It’s supposed to reach above freezing. Then drop again later in the week. I don’t see as many feathers in Winter as I do in the Fall and Spring. Summer is best for feather hunting.

The coolest feathers I have ever seen are from the Great Grey Owls that dropped from Canada to the area around Duluth a few years ago. Liz and I drove up (along with hundreds of other birders) just to get a glimpse of the wide-faced raptors. We must have seen 30 – 40 of them that weekend, perched in elms and birch, swooping low to the ground, the way they hunt, and, sadly, one deceased in the middle of the road.

It was still warm, had been hit by a pick-up truck minutes before. We stopped to offer prayers, and a closer look at her wings, talons, and feathers. We’ll never be that close to a Great Grey again.

I read later that the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota had a ton of calls about Great Greys that year. They had been hit by cars when they were hunting low across country roads. And then, just as quickly, they were gone. Back to Canada. I don’t think they’ve ever traveled this far South again.

-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, February 16th, 2008

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – LIGHT AS A FEATHER

Read Full Post »

The last time I saw a feather was a few hours ago. I pulled into the driveway after running an errand, and I noticed two turkey feathers stuck into the edge of a foamcore poster board advertising LIVE HERITAGE TURKEYS FOR SALE. All caps. 

Turkey feathers are big and plain, at least these ones are. I like that about them. No flash, just simplicity.

Jim find feathers everywhere. I ask him while he’s eating fruit salad for lunch, What do you know about feathers? He walks to the bookshelf and pulls down the Sibling Guide to Birds book he and the girls got me for Mother’s Day last year.

Well, he says, there are all kinds of feathers. Body feathers and head feathers. Feathers from the nape of the neck.

I ask him if he liked feathers when he was a boy. Not any more than the average kid, he tells me.

Our girls love feathers. They get a new peacock feather every other Sunday or so when it’s Growers Market season. Fifty cents each, although sometimes Mr. and Mrs. Johnston give the girls a feather each for free.

I once found a tiny pale orange feather, perfectly formed. It stood out against the gray gravel in the driveway, and for weeks I kept it in my car in the well between the bucket seats. I twirled it between my fingers while waiting in the drive-thru at the pharamacy or the parent pick-up line at school.

I now know that the feathers in the outermost tip of the wing are called Primaries. Or are they Secondaries?

There are tail feathers and rump feathers. Jim mentions Scapulars, and when I look at him for clarification, he says, Shoulder, scapula…you know, just remember, I-broke-my-scapula.

I think of football players and their shoulder pads and the playing fields we walked across at Valley High School in the days before any of us had our drivers licenses. So green and manicured, those fields.

I don’t recall ever seeing a feather on that carpet, but I do remember my best friend’s older sister’s collection of feathers. She kept them on a nightstand near her reel-to-reel. We snuck into her bedroom and snagged a few, braided leather to the quill and wore them in our hair or made roach clips out of them.

One of the first feathers I ever saw was the light gray of the guinea hen, distinguishable by its many white dots. I picked up handfuls in Grandma’s yard one afternoon, walked in through the kitchen. Mom and Grandma sat at the table smoking cigarettes and when they saw what was in my hands, they both yelled, Get those dirty things out of here, NOW!

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – LIGHT AS A FEATHER

Read Full Post »