Scherzo for Winds

Scherzo for Winds, from the Undiscovery Channel

While I stand still as a gnomon trying to shoot the wind, five, six, seven chimney swifts wheel over the treetops up on the ridge, seining the air for wind-borne invertebrates: gypsy moth caterpillars on one-strand parachutes, perhaps. Baby spiders no bigger than an 8-point asterisk. Anything with wings.

A turkey vulture loses altitude above the corner of the field, rocking from side to side on upcurved pinions. Will it have to flap? No. It enters a thermal at last and spirals upward.

A common fritillary weaves drunkenly past my right shoulder, seemingly unconcerned by the sudden strong gusts throwing it off course. (Does it have a course?) I think a new verb is called for: it serendips.

From time to time, maple seeds come helicoptering in and disappear into the tall grass. The evidence of past years’ red maple profligacy dot the field, seedlings just big enough for the deer to find.

A sharp-shinned hawk sails out of the woods next to the powerline only to hover forty feet above the roiling sea of grass, wings fluttering rapidly, and then fly back. A cloud slightly larger than the others brings a spit of rain.

10 Replies to “Scherzo for Winds”

  1. Now arrives my annual jealousy of your northern, more civil climate. Filming something like this here, now, would result in being tick infested, with chigger bites to spare, if one didn’t wear repellent drenched long trousers and boots. Rigorous, active types don’t mind so much though, I guess, and I do see them out there walking fence lines and such.

    What’s good about chicks and tiggers, as I often malaprop? They distract from the global/societal difficulties. While a tick bite can ruin a life, there is a satisfying concision to the idea of a fell pinprick. Anymore towards evening, as it warms, snake boots are beginning to be a must as there is nothing delightful about elevating your foot for a month because standing is impossibly painful, but very nice of you to create this video and to share it.

    Oh, this might be of random interest to you. I was speaking with a logger recently who averred that chicks and tiggers are less common in less disturbed, more mature forest.

  2. Beautiful. Especially the sweeping cloud shadows and that snaking movement of the wind under the grass.

    But what is “seining”? (seining the air) Is it a typo or a word I’ve never heard?

  3. Bloody hell, Dave, I’ve read this three times and will keep reading. It’s the best prose piece I’ve read since I don’t know when (prosepoem, hymn?), it’s exquisite, I cannot rhapsodise enough….it is new ways of seeing, is breathtaking.

  4. Thanks for the comments, y’all. Sorry I’m a little late in responding.

    Bill – That’s good to keep in mind. I’ve always felt that PA is a good middle place to be: too far south for the north woods scourges of black flies and tons of mosquitoes; too far north to make grassy/weedy areas impassible for the reasons you suggest. However, with the warmer winters we’ve been getting, this may not be true much longer.

    Natalie – To seine, strictly speaking, is to fish with a weighted net (a seine). I was trying to use the verb more figuratively, meaning “to strain as if with a net.”

    Jo – Thanks. To me, it was pretty workmanlike prose – I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it – but I’m glad you liked it.

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