Monday, August 17, 2009

Six Birds and a Sweater

Pater asked me the other day if I thought I was enjoying life as much as I could or should. He'd been asking himself that same question, wondering whether he was appreciating the passing moments enough.

Consumed as I can be with worrying about the past or the future, I nonetheless confidently answered that I do my best to savour the delights around me. At the time, we were sitting in our new teak furniture, under the fabulous pergola we had built this past winter, and life seemed very good. Within minutes of my response, a hummingbird flashed by for me to demonstrate "appreciation of the moment," and we both focussed on its darting movements, its sublime buzz (is there any better sound than the summer buzz of bees and hummingbirds?), while we wondered what was prompting the apparent concern signaled by a repeated chirping that I don't much associate with hummers.

After spending those moments absorbed by the tiny bird's antics, I decided to recount other recent bird sightings that have cheered me. Catching the sudden plunge of a large branch of the Leycesteria formosa (Himalayan honeysuckle) the other day, for example, I went to the window to see what was happening. A robin had swooped onto the shrub with the dramatic landing, and had happily hunkered down to work berries from the branches into its gullet. I've seen this repeated several times since and it pleases me each time. One of the shrub's common names is Pheasant Berry, but mine could be renamed the Robin Berry bush! The incident makes me think how the robin, as common a bird as one can think of around here, brings so much pleasure from the earliest nursery-rhyme-chanting age onward.

A somewhat more exotic bird, the Pileated Woodpecker, set up a workshop not five metres from our deck last weekend, hammering to test the larder potential of a stump we'd incorporated into our landscaping. That brilliant crest screamed photo-opportunity and we were all torn between wanting to race for the camera and just staying put to observe and enjoy -- we chose the latter which is why I've borrowed this photo from Wikipedia. Just as well, since our woodpecker was quickly disappointed with the stump's offerings and flew off before long to drill his way along a less visible trunk a bit further away.

This morning, as on many mornings, I admired the still patience of the Great Blue Heron fishing at the water's edge (makes me think of Willie Nelson's "Still is still moving to me"). I often register what a great photo the scene could make, but my lens isn't "tele" enough, and herons are notorious for detecting anyone moving closer. So instead I sit with my tea and soak up the image.

The same thing for the Bald Eagles that sometimes sit, either singly or in pairs, at the edge of the rocky beach. I did, in fact, grab the camera and try to get a shot last week, but most viewers would only see another rock on the beach. Better I leave the eagle photography to the professionals (Mark's an island friend, and captures amazing shots of birds and other subjects) and selfishly stay in the moment, seeing through my own eyes rather than the camera's.

The last bird sighting that kept me in the moment recently was that of seagulls flying singly above as we paddled through the twilight into the moonlight a few weeks ago. Something about the lowering night made their flight seem mysteriously purposeful, like something out of a Philip Pullman novel -- I kept imagining them leaving spouse and nestlings behind and heading off to meet at a serious congress of bird thinkers and leaders. Foolishly fanciful, I know, but satisfying just the same.

As for satisfying, and as promised, here's my Gathered Pullover, finally. And yes, I suppose I could have tried smiling. . . I'm very happy with the sweater and know that I'll get much use from this blend of linen and silk, but I'm considering re-doing the neck -- the shoulders are a bit too loose and the V a bit too sloppy. I think much of this results from the substitution of linen/silk for the original wool -- just a bit too much drape to the Flaxen. So I haven't blocked the sweater yet but will take a few days to see whether some frogging (rip-it, rip-it -- get it, non knitters? ribbit, ribbit, frog . . . ) will be appropriate. I'm also consider just stitching some tucks in the back. We'll see. For now, though, it counts as an FO, and that's good!


  1. I love the color and texture of that sweater! Divine.

    I also enjoyed your descriptions of avian-goings-on around your place. When we were kids, we lived in a house with pyracantha berries trained along the fences and walls. The berries would ferment on the vine, and the birds loved to eat the fermented berries. Alas, often not happy endings as the FUI birds often flew into our large windows in the back, breaking their necks. Hopefully you're spared similar drunken tragedies.

    Our elderly (100 years old this year!) next door neighbor's children have placed a bird feeder on window right where she frequently sits and looks out. I have to imagine the pretty creatures that come to visit are a source of enjoyment for her, now that she's mostly housebound.

  2. I love the detailing on the sweater, and the color. I imagine it would be perfect to wear to sit by that lovely evocative shore. Pseu, elderly at 100? Then they are doing great if they are only elderly. That is my dearest hope in life. To live a long time.

  3. Except of course, that my children should live even longer and more happily than I.

  4. What a marvelously evocative description of the comings and goings in the avian community around you.

    I think the sweater is marvelous too, and I love the color and the details although I see what you are saying about the neckline. If it were mine, I might rip it and knit it a little tighter around the neck, but I personally like my necklines a little more finished and defined. This certainly looks lovely on you as is and gives you the option to show off a lovely top underneath. I think there must be a halfway point that will flatter a blouse or top and be a little more refined.

    Anyway, that is just me, and I am eager to see what you decide.

  5. I bet a slip or single crochet stitch all around the neckline would do great things! It looks great, but I can see what you mean about the loose neck.

  6. I'll echo the others, beautiful colour especially on you. Will be interested to hear what you decide. neck looks a little wavy in pic but may be fine in person. We have many, many birds in our garden and I can spend hours watching them- but not motivated to formally birdwatch.

  7. Also love the yarn you've used, but wanting to hear how you resolve the neckline issue (before I start it!).

  8. Hmmmmm! I wrote responses to most of these comments yesterday, but Blogger seems to have spirited them away somewhere . . .
    I know I commented on Pseu's neighbour -- I'm amused at the fact that our language makes us call her "children" "children, even though they must be 70 or 80. Also amused by the notion of the tipsy birds, although I should be chastened by the often tragic results (and I'm reminded of some Roald Dahl story with a scene of drunk pheasants dropping to the ground for a poacher to pick up)
    LPC: can only echo you -- "elderly" seems an understatement for a 100-year old!!
    Mardel: I had wanted loose, casual, bordering on the sloppy, but I know I won't feel happy if it's truly a sloppy neckline. I'm going to try Jillian's fix which seems the perfect solution.
    Jillian: Love this idea and will try it as soon as I find an appropriately-sized hook.
    Duchesse: I like to know some of the names and try to identify from a bird book when I can, but I'm not motivated to do any formal birdwatching either. Their antics alone entertain me.
    Tiffany: I'll let you know, for sure!

  9. Another great creation. PS why does my husband not ask me questions like that?


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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