Monday, September 03, 2007

My friend, the wren

I think that the carolina wren has become one of the most beloved birds of eastern north america, especially in the small towns and suburbs where you can find them hopping and perching busily about, singing and scolding. They are attractive birds ( like all wrens) and very small, of a lovely dusty rufous brown back with beautifully barred edges, a cream and buff breast, a bold white stripe above their eyes and a delicate, curved beak that they use to snare all manner of insects as they bounce about. Even better, they have miles of character and personality, are endlessly curious and non-stop vocalizers, whether it be their jarringly loud but musical song (tea-ket-tle tea-ket-tle tea-ket-le was how I learned it) or their numerous and diverse warning and scolding calls. They like backyards and open woods, cobwebby garages, sheds and woodpiles.
I've been very pleased to find them a common presence in my new neighborhood, and I never tire of their simple, forthright song, frequently reminding me of the smaller, delicate communities that persevere all around me. They live in conspicous pairs all year and interact with each other and with their human neighbors so consistently and enjoyably that many households virtually adopt them as a second family, watching out for them and busying themselves in the wrens business just as much as they do in ours. I spent the weekend up on the north shore (of Massachusetts) with my good friends the Monnellys and enjoyed not only the presence of the wrens but also Dorothy Monnelly's constant and caring, inquisitive attention that she lavished on the diminutive birds. "I just think she doesn't like that chipmunk nosing around," she'll say as we listen to one of the wrens in an endless series of its musical rasberries.
In my more heavily settled neighborhood, I haven't quite made such close acquaintance with my local wrens, but I hear them daily and have observed them hopping about my tiny little containers of herbs searching for a morsel here or there. I hope they found something, and that they return often! Though I can't really claim such a feat with my tiny garden, planting your yard and garden in such a way that attracts and entertains local wildlife seems like it would be one of the great joys of such an enterprise (and then the deer eat all your tomatoes...).
My Labor Day weekend was overall a very nice one. Apart from the wren, the other pictures were taken at the Appleton Farms Grass Rides, a nice (but confusing) network of trails through the woods and meadows of a small part of Ipswich. We saw peeper frogs, friendly dogs and two dangerous-looking amanita mushrooms that were really quite beautiful, in pristine condition, with wide, snowy white caps and tall, straight stems. I didn't think to get a picture of them. The people on the bench are my friends Michelle and Anne, and I don't know what the flowers are - my botany is rusty.
Anyway, I hope that everybody enjoyed the holiday and that they enjoy their end of summer and entrance to fall. Tomorrow I start on four very, very busy weeks of work delivering violins, violas and cellos to countless hopeful schoolkids all over New England. After a difficult couple of weeks, I really feel I could use a little more time (just a little bit, please), to sort some personal things out and ready myself as best I can, but I am just going to have to muster on. Time waits for no one, as they say. Who they are, I have no idea.

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