I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they're like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day... fifty the day after that... and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it's—GASP!!—too late.” Stephen King
I would tend to agree with Mr King, but sometimes when you need 1000 words to describe something because you don’t have a picture then you do need those pesky adverbs – and adjectives – to paint the picture.
Now that breeding season is over and the Common Grackles have finished raising this year’s brood, they have begun to gather in large flocks. One such flock roosts at night in a wooded area near the house. On days when it is likely going to be too hot to walk later in the morning, I usually begin walking in that brief period while the sky is still pearly gray, just before the sun breaks the horizon, and by the time I turn around and head back the sun is up, and the birds have roused and have left the roost, making quite a racket as they discuss things among themselves, and are heading off in a group to wherever they spend their days.
They don’t fly in a nice formation like geese would but string out across the sky without much organization, like a black ribbon that seems to go on for a while before the last bird disappears over the trees.
But the other morning as I watched, the black ribbon of birds began to twist and coil and turn back on itself and swirl vertically and horizontally before it straightened out and headed off again. I stopped and watched this amazing spectacle, probably with my mouth gaping.
True, the display of this small flock of Grackles did not rival the amazing film I have seen in nature programs of a murmmeration of starlings, but I never thought I would see anything even close to that in person.
I am so glad I kept watching them instead of just glancing as they took to the air (ho hum, it’s a large flock Grackles and I've seen them just about every day for several weeks, so what?) and then looked at something else.
One morning in early winter when I was walking in the park, a bald eagle came from the woods at the edge of town and flew directly overhead toward the residential area. They do winter in the area, but are usually not that common near the town, so seeing one is sort of a big deal. It flew right over two women who had finished their walk and had cut through the car lot of the dealership that is next to the park. They were looking in the window of a new car and never saw the eagle it because they weren’t looking up.
I realize people can’t pay attention to everything – because after all, if you are paying attention to one thing you can’t be paying attention to something else, but…