Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Birds


I arrived at the beach mid-afternoon, in a desperate attempt to hold onto the dwindling hours of a weekend—their passing even faster, now, as the time change steals an hour of light from the end each day’s due.
The night has suddenly grown long.

American Lotus seed head

At the water’s edge, a withered leaf and seed head of the Lotus remind me of their great fields in the distance. The tall, creamy blossoms and broad, flat leaves of late summer, now faded and furled, have turned to sunlit gold.



I dabbled here with the camera as each minute of daylight escaped me, taking image after image of summer’s remnants as they rolled in the water, forward and back. The rocking of one small piece, a walnut or osage orange, sending ring after ring of ripples to dissolve into the glassy lake.

fruit of Osage Orange

Then I drove further on to the lotus fields, parked and walked to the edge.
A small dock at the bottom of a narrow, steep stair nuzzled into the bank beneath a thick stand of pine, the ground beneath them soft with needles and littered with long, pitch-spattered cones. The slant of evening sun was gentle and warm and had filled the air with the sweet and spicy piney smell. The lotus fields were brightly shining, reaching to the very shore. Oak and sycamore branches extended bright and blurry reflections across the dark water.






Several very large, brown birds lifted from the trees across the lake and, as I looked more closely, I could see hundreds still there, standing as black spots perched upon every branch, tucked into the warm wall of trees facing the strongest light. As each rose and cleared the treetops, its shape became visible—they were vultures. In great waves, they lifted and crossed the lake directly above my head, their long wings stroking strongly, the only sound, as they settled in great groups in the tall pines all around me. With each new wave to arrive, the previous would rise and resettle—the wings of the first bird to lift, noisily crashing and becoming a crescendo as another and another joined the group and swirled in a tangle of great wings overhead.

vultures across the lake

and rising to the sky

In all, over 200, both turkey vultures and black, emptied the wall of trees as I sat there, to settle at dusk in their roost around me.
Then the sun dropped into what had become an orange horizon.
A full moon rose in the fading blue sky.
I shook the chill of a clear autumn night from my shoulders.
And the lake fell into quiet stillness.





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20 comments:

Pearl Maple said...

Beautiful collection of photos celebrating the changing seasons in many beautiful colours. Thanks for sharing with sky watch friday.

Carver said...

This was a wonderful sequence of shots and I loved it ending with the bare tree.

bobbie said...

Nina, these pictures are so wonderful, and the reflections just as lovely. Especially love the vultures in the tree.

Lene said...

Marwellous nature! Lots of beautiful photos :)

Deborah Godin said...

This is a standout post among so many I've enjoyed here. In your words the passage of autumn hours is palpable, and the photos are exquisite. Many thanks.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Love these photos Nina. The moon shots are particularly nice.

J Bar said...

Great shots.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

~Just me again~ said...

Wonderful shots!

Leah Fry said...

My favorite is the one that is just ripply colors in the water. Looks like you enjoyed a beautiful day. And I learned something: I never knew those pods were American Lotus.

nonizamboni said...

Ahh, what a wonderful trip you had. And vultures!? I've only seen them in fields but flying they take on a sense of majesty and purpose. Love the last photo...thanks for sharing!

Larry D said...

Wonderful post and skies!

Mary said...

A wonderful series of photos. Love all the vultures in the sky.

NCmountainwoman said...

Wonderful series of photographs. I will come back again and again to look at the close of day on the lake.

JOE TODD said...

Outdoors in Ohio can really be beautiful. Thanks for the post

Karen said...

Wonderful post !!

Beautiful captures of your afternoon aand I love your words...

Wren said...

I love your "bright and blurry reflections" and of course, the vultures.

MObugs said...

What gorgeous photos! I especially love the one with moon shining over the water, that is absolutely beautiful.

Delwyn said...

Hello Nina

this is a delightful meander through a late autumn afternoon...

so peaceful and golden, thank you

Happy days

Kelly said...

...so beautiful. I love your photographs of the lotus seed pod and your gentle narration. This weekend I was at Caesar's Creek and saw a large mixed flock of Black and Turkey Vultures. They were taking a bath at the water's edge splashing around like I've never seen before!

Kim Hosey said...

Lovely words, gorgeous photos in a perfect sequence. What a splendid wandering through autumn goodness.