Carrion Without Me

birding hiking camping travel binoculars New River dining lodging
A favorite warm-weather passtime of which I am only mildly apologetic: lying on my back on sidewalk of warm pavers outside the back door, trying to comprehend where in the world I am; where in the universe, where in time. And why.

Almost always overhead, soaring birds on warm thermals trace spirographic arcs through my vision and my thoughts, lifting me up out of our valley to gain perspective, often to look back down through keen avian eyes at the sprawling man, arms outstretched–a tiny squinting crucifix, searching Heaven for Truth and Beauty.

Sometimes, from this supine perspective, the performances of bird with bird, birds with the very air, are so impressive I have to stifle applause. And only rarely do I have my camera beside me. Yesterday was one of those days. And no, this is not an altered image; it took almost 30 minutes for the right combination of heavenly and earthly body to get a shot.

Vultures get some coverage here rather often, starting early in the blog five years ago. Here’s one Fragments piece in praise of “buzzards”.

Elsewhere in the world of lenses: you’ll laugh. Especially if you’re a serious bird watcher and maybe even have your own pair of Swarovski (at $600 plus) you won’t believe what I ordered yesterday. A pair of $16 binocs. Binolux Rubber Armored.

My mom had a pair that someone had given her. She wouldn’t part with them, even though she only watches cardinals in her bird bath on the porch of her apartment, and my heavier, better quality pair would have been a great exchange.

Cheap. Shirt pocket. Free shipping. They should be here in time for our trip to South Dakota.

(And this image, shamelessly photoshopped, to imagine life above the clouds.)

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

Articles: 3013


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. amazing photo, fred! and definitely nothing to be apologetic about… if we didn’t live in town, i might be found doing the same! 🙂

  2. This shot came home to me this afternoon as a buzzard skimmed the treetops above home and swooped down within 30 ft of where I sat…cloudy and 35mph gusts so no camera. Not that my reaction time would have allowed a shot anyway. Great catch, especially with the knowledge of how long it took to wait for the shot.

  3. Hi Fred! I discovered you through bluemountainmama’s site. How far beyond words! I went straight back to cloud gazing moments of childhood when i read this…