A late winter day waning into early spring has drawn many to enjoy the lake near my friend’s home. The lack of rain swells the numbers of visitors as flotillas of birds float along the placid waters. Skateboarders, cyclists, wanderers, runners with jogging buggies, and a large assortment of dogs flow by me as I watch a flicker assemble himself at the top of a leafless tree and unleash his sentinel call. The hoots, blats, honks and trills of birds curl through the air like madrona bark … the gorgeous tones of a hidden blackbird is especially lush. We are an unlikely crew, humans and animals, visitors and neighbors, joined for a few minutes by a common body of water.
I keep stopping to enjoy marching mallards, first the drake then his girl following a few steps behind. They waddle back and forth across the path, taking flight when kids can’t resist racing toward them. A few feet away their larger, less nervous cousins, Canada geese, stroll along adding contrast to the grass they are intent on cropping (and fertilizing) ignoring humans and, amazingly, the many dogs. Maybe the geese have figured out what a leash means. A brown form pokes up and cruises across the water. I am not sure if it’s a nutria or a beaver and wish I had my small binoculars.
It is nearly dusk and the flotillas are stretching their wings and chattering more. In a moment, they lift as one, all wings and bird noise, off to a destination hidden within their calls. I meander home, taking pictures of early berries and blooms, feeling a little more whole than when I started.