Sunday, November 09, 2008


A week ago someone mentioned, with a good deal of excitement in his voice, that the Tenowthre was coming. I said, "What's coming?" Being that I'm not up on all the possible cultural events here in WI, I'm occasionally blindsided.

What can you do other than ask?

I asked. It turns out what the friend was saying was 1003. And the 1003 is a big old steam locomotive. Which is very cool as an antiquity but it does bring home in a major way that when folks talk about "clean coal" and we should use more of it, that they are nuts.

At any rate, one doesn't just go see the 1003, one chases the 1003 across the countryside attempting to get photographs of it where the roads are close enough to the tracks to take pictures. So people with cars take shots, jump back in their cars, and try to get to the next possible photo op before the train gets there. Sometimes it's close, but sometimes the train being a steam locomotive will have stopped to take on water or load coal and there is a wait before it arrives.

(By the way, water is very important to steam powered engines. It isn't just that the steam makes them go, it's that if they run out of water they blow up, big time.)

Therefore as I somehow got enticed into participating in this jaunt,

I found myself at one point standing way out in the country when a huge flock of birds appeared in the sky and undulated over me.

The flock was many many times larger than the number you see above.

They just seemed to keep coming and coming and coming--a mixed flock of black birds.

The birds began to go into particular trees and perch in hordes.
Were they staging to migrate?

After perching for a few minutes several birds started taking to their wings and heading for a different tree.
Then they all did it.
Combined with much vocalization.
And birds from another tree headed for the tree where the first set of birds now perched.
The tree under discussion is the one to the far right.
Then more.
A pause.
Some birds then went back to where they'd come from.
No, not staging.
But rather jockeying for the best roosting spots of the evening.
Donegal Browne

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