Thursday, January 7, 2010


O.K., maybe that's pushing it. But that's Gelid, as in Freezing Cold, not jellied, as in Eel, and is a perfectly legitimate word to describe the frigid temperatures outside: 18F when we went for a walk, with the wind chill apparently making that 9F. It's 12.7 out at present (3 with the wind chill). So there are reasons why bluebirds look like this, huddled up and puffed out on the bough of a willow tree outside the bathroom window. I spent some time wondering how many it would take for them to be Gregarious - there are four in this picture, and there were up to 9 in all - but they were as nothing, when it came to numbers, to the starlings that descended en masse in the back yard. The flickers re-emerged, F being safely past; there was a pair of Northern Harriers hovering around, too - but doubtless they will disappear before I get to H for Harrier or Hawk tomorrow. We have a good many bluebirds around here (back in the early summer, you might remember the bluebird house on a pole) - one thing I didn't previously know about them is that sailors used to tattoo a bluebird on their chest for every 5,000 miles at sea, which must have meant that some men bore a complete aviary. Lore had it that a bluebird would help them get back to shore, being the first (land) bird that was often seen on their way back to shore. That doesn't exactly explain their presence in a very land-locked New Mexican back yard.

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