Monthly Archives: October 2010


winters’ arrival has been confirmed. 

three female pine grosbeaks sang in the early morning from a spruce overlooking the trays of sunflower seeds.  i needed to hear that; needed something to change the direction of my funk; something to affirm rather than remind. 

the landscape sits in limbo.  brown and gray.  complacency. 

soon, the ski trails will bear the brunt of my poor technique and uphill cursing.  as i get older, pacing has displaced youthful exertion. 

“take your time”  i say to myself.  “nothing will change.”

insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. 

next time, it will be different.


patience as a virtue

the last time nervous flatulence and owls were combined as a feature in my life was in 1996, on the occassion of my m.s. thesis defense.  i set the bar pretty high that year and blindly thought it would never be raised, until mrs. russ’ 5th grade class arrived at my house for an evening of owl banding last night.

braggard. shy. nervous. spontaneous. caustic. charming. sweet.  innocent. lamentable. irksome.


what is not to love about a fifth grader?

alas, their patience was rewarded with a lone saw-whet, which only pointed out how absolutely patient and unmanipulative i have become in my path to being a certified owler.  

i just wait and don’t really care if anything happens.  

perhaps i am avoiding something.   

the kids couldn’t wait however and so, as their caravan moved down the driveway, i was chagrined to find a long-eared in the nets.  i gathered it and ran after them, shouting “wait…i made expresso…” was going to entice with the owl but by then, they were on the highway, moving towards all cardinal directions. 

in 2008, a similar event occurred, but with boreal owls…the bastards.

and the cherubs.

tawdry, tinny, moonlight

someone turned off the switch…shut the owls down and reintroduced me to the monotony of owling. boredom. distractions. clock-watching tedium. 

but wait, wasn’t i just welcoming a break in the action?  wasn’t it just tuesday night that the winds picked up and i was able to sleep for a glorious 11 hours and forget all the woes of life, work, love and indecision? 

regrettably, that was me.

last night, i was joined by my nephew and his buddy, for what could have been a banner evening.  alas, the tinny moonlilght appears to have put a damper on owl migration.  i did, however, catch a long-eared owl which is, next to the boreal owl, my favorite owl to capture, band, and lament it’s skin-piercing abilities.

thursday’s fifth grade outing was postponed, due to winds..  i made the call in the afternoon, after hearing the robot-voiced forecasts from the nws. those fucking robots are teasing me; mocking me.  i know they are.

alas, night came and i had good conditions.  not many owls, but good conditions.  

if there is an “o” missing in any of my words, it’s my keyboard and not the keyboardist, damn you.  

someone at work asked me if “i am smarter than a five grader”.  

i don’t know.

the stomach ailment and winds arrived at different times and on different days, but they both left in the same way:  bellowing gusts of expired air.

my banding streak has ended and i have regrouped a bit, but i’ll deploy again tonight and see if i can tough it out for a couple more weeks.  this time of migration, one never knows what will happen and boredom shall soon be my nocturnal assistant. 

the subaru died at the dealer, which was some sort of sign of karma for what has been a karma-free zone the last week or so. 

she knows who she is. 

the north house stint is over and it was fun to engage the curious in an evening of owls.  some even got to experience the pleasures of owl talons, though i vowed i would never talk about that again. 

never again.

there are still several pushes in front of me, but none will come with an explanation point of owls.  more like a semi-colon or colon.

just like the winds.

chocolate funk

about half-way through my relatively unspectacular bout of banding last night,  i sensed that digestively, something was wrong.  my stomach began to roil and turn circles. 

i get excited when the owls are on the wing, but the only thing i can relate to this sudden onset of culinary crud was either the haralson apple i had eaten, or the chocolate, garnd marnier-soaked frosting atop a banana cake that someone was offloading at work. 

let me see…apple or cake?  i’m still not sure.

yet another evening of favorable weather, but it was slow.  ten owls in 3 hours which nearly equaled the nuber of times i had to run to the bathroom. 

not that intestinal peristalsis has anything to do with it.

my car, the subaru of my dreams, will implode soon.  it is inches away from sucking a valve and throwing it through the hood.  i had a vehicle lined up in grand marais, but this morning, the owner said he didn’t want to sell it. 


blog damnit. 

the fifth graders of sawtooth elementary will be in the house on thursday.  it is a fun experience and now, some of the original participants are in their senior year of high school. 

time flies when you’re having fun.

salsa sunday

i know october.  october is a friend of mine and let me tell you, this is no october.

june, maybe.

i believe the cards are in the forecast for an evening of speedo banding tonight. balmy, sultry…a sweat-inducing night of owls.

not that i’m complaining.  the flights have been steady, and save for last thursday-saturday’s overindulgence, completely manageable.  20-30 owls a night is completely manageable.

sadly, the darkened nights are about to give way to moonlight and much of the ambience, the unfamiliarity, will be lost. 

i bitch like this once a month. 

on what should have been a day outside, basking in cancer-inducing sunlight, i instead canned my last batch of salsa and bottled an overdue batch of highly-hopped, saliva-inducing, chromosome-altering home brew. 

i should have been outside…could’ve been a contender, splitting wood and counting the rounds of gunfire from my neighbor’s homestead but no, i was inside, pained by the notion that tomorrow, i will drive my failing subaru to work with the rabbit’s foot, fingers-crossed, “i’ll be good” mantra because, well…my subaru is failing. 

i bitch like this regularly.

the ratio of hatch year to adult owls is slowly beginnning to drift towards the seasoned, migratory, uber owls.  as a result, i am finding more bands on the birds, which is always a fun process.  

a couple of weeks ago, i trapped a bird i had banded 2 years earlier.  did she remember this place in this landscape in this season? did she foot me because i handled her poorly or because she carried ambivalence with her for 2 years and came here to inflict pain.

what’s love got to do with it?

as i told the classes from north house folk school: “the band fits on the leg of the owl, kind of like a wedding ring, but doesn’t cause as much pain.”

an owl’s talons, an owler’s tears

okay, so this won’t be as dramatic as the title would suggest.  in fact, i think this will be the last post dedicated to the pain the owls sometimes inflict on the innocent. 

this pain, however, was outstanding.

sharp.  immediate.  lasting. distracting.

you see, of all the owls and all the talons and all the nights spent in a lather of contentedness while exercising my right as a property owner with a persistent desire to hang with nocturnal predators, this footing took the cake.

it was the culmination of the right angle and the right application of foot pressure and the right soft, fleshy underside of my fingernail.  it ended with a talon well over a 1/4 inch under my fingernail.

well played, mr. saw-whet.

okay.  that was it.  no more talons.  

in this, the 8th year banding in my back yard, the current stretch of good weather is unprecedented.  tonight will be my 9th night in a row with nets open.  steady owls of late, but nothing that is “omfg” crazy.  

unseasonable. balmy.