Margaret Furlong Blog | Everyday Life & Porcelain Design Inspiration

OBSERVATIONS AND IDEAS ON BEAUTY IN EVERYDAY LIFE

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A trip to Baskett Slough National Wildlife Preserve proved to be a fruitful afternoon of birding. This preserve is a wetland teeming with ducks, geese, swans and birds of all kinds. We found a Northern Harrier, an American Kestrel, Western Grebes, Northern Shovelers and many more. Among the many more were thousands of Canada Geese, which are so common and are always found in great numbers in the wetlands and the fields that surround the preserve. I was not paying any attention to them as I was especially enjoying the florescent deep green of the Shovelers head with their black beaks and wishing it was closer to the mating season of the Western Grebe so I could experience their exotic dance skimming on the surface of the water in dancing pairs.

Then all of a sudden thousands of Canada Geese took flight, lifting up and flying away from the area I was closely observing. The sky was full and the air was interrupted with thousands of wings beating and incessant honking. They had not flown very far when they all made an abrupt U turn and began to come back toward us in a perfect V formation. I photographed this formation and several subsequent views as they came closer and closer. When they were almost overhead they were no longer dark silhouettes against the blue sky but caught the sunlight to expose their white and black and grey markings. What a feast for the eyes! As I looked up the sky was completely patterned with a mass of these swift, graceful and fleeting forms. I was completely pleased to have caught this sky show on my iphone and I wanted to share it with you.

I‘m an amateur birder. I’m enthralled with the exotic beauty of the bird world; so close everyday and yet without quiet observation, this world goes unnoticed and unobserved. Each bird is a graceful and perfect form from any angle and in every action. Each variety with its specific markings and coloration not only make them identifiable but a study in exquisite design.

I inherited a passion for the bird world from my mother. She was an avid “bird watcher” and as a child we spent many Sunday afternoons out in the country where Mother would search out and identify the various birds along our way. She identified many of them first by their song or their call before we even saw them. These adventures out in the country were foundational to my love and passion for the outdoors and for the joy I find in all nature’s resplendent beauty.

Mother grew up on a farm on the plains of Nebraska in the early 1900’s. Her world was a world without machines or cars and out in the country it was a very quiet place with only the sound of the wind and the song of the birds. Mother not only learned all the names of the plentiful birds of the plains, but also their calls and songs of which she could reproduce very authentically. She whistled, sang and spoke lilting words that closely resembled their sounds. It was intoxicating to listen to her. It was a sweet and unique gift that Mother had and one that I didn’t inherit, although as a child I made many feeble attempts. I am satisfied with the privilege of listening to their beautiful songs, seeing their beautiful forms and movements, learning more and more about the incredible variety of nest shapes, materials and construction methods and each bird’s distinctive egg in shape, pattern and color. The learning curve is endless.

Mother was in her early thirties in the photograph that I have included in this entry. The two sepia photographs of a winter landscapes of the farmhouse where Mother grew up were taken some time in the early 20th century. I don’t have a date and can only surmise from the buggy in the driveway and the height of the trees surrounding the house that perhaps it was sometime in the early twenties. During my childhood the trees were mature and huge. These hedgerows of trees were commonly planted to protect the homes from the brutally cold north winds that swept across the flat plains.

Here you could see the sun rise and the sun set in the wide open country of the Great Plains.

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