In Lisboa, as we found ourselves a while back....we toiled up the cobblestones of the Alfama district. Quaint....tight....tiled....cobbled, ....row houses and shops and trams. We mimicked in our walk, the lines of the tram...guiding us to that ahead. The dimly lit approach would soon give way to absorbing us in darkness once more as we parted, from street light, to light, to that of another.
Our place to land, our upcoming harbor; was a barra embedded deep in the district...far from common laughter and chat. Outside, we were welcomed by a 'bent looking man' who surprisingly 'stood' guard outside an imprisoned door. Not so much as the door wouldn't open but what was within, was imprisoned... for...from what we could see, light barely would caress our cheeks upon entering. He nudged us to stop....then turning his head to a window ajar, he strained to listen and then, without a word spoken, more thoughts and motions, we knew it was time to move to, and we did; yes we did.
Fado is 'as defined' as the soul of Portugal and it is argued among others, as to when first it came about. Yet, here we were in this barra...light from the candles arking off the ceiling and soon to be, an old lady would softly bark from her soul, the mourning of those who lost others at sea, or the sadness of those esperando o retorno do marinheiro, again, soon to be. Fado en Lisboa.....
Time has Passed
Although time has left us-- in several months since, here I lay under my sheets, listening to the drizzle of rain and the dripping of gutters as water splats one by one on plants below. A slow death it would seem. Drip, drip, drip....The light out back is eerily reminiscent of the cobblestone streets I passed in Lisboa. As my blinds are wide open and the darkness hasn't left us yet, the light cast from a shed, droops it's glow over the boughs of a pine. I scratch the sand from my eyes and stare at the gloomy day. Now, I remind you, that just yesterday I filled up the feeders and planted a new suet in the cage, all for 'them' to come.
You see now, our softly encased friends, or 'them'... have been lacking. The pine boughs lay somewhat untouched it would seem for months....My eyes though have locked on to movement in the misty branches...shadowy figures that skip. Could it at last be 'them"? Have the seaman returned home? Have the mournful words of Fado been heard and now, they or them are returned. Graciously with soul, I arise a bit..... my hopes, my time to wait perhaps has passed.
But like the mothers and wives and children of past times, and across the seaway, no less--- lays a dawn of apprehension. Yes, yes.....I see the sail above the horizon. I can let my guard down and allow the world to enter. I am no longer bent and old, but have a new slant, ...and straight and young.
Thru the darkness of the boughs, the light creeps to. A highlighted figure parts the haven and tip toes it, or so seems, to the end of a branch. It then climbs its way up, one bough, to another....to another. Just one lone figure, just one.
And so the first Junco has returned.
Cat Stevens......my youth....I recall the freedom he displayed in his music and voice, and being. As I walked outside now, prior to me writing this....I felt the presence of my shadow, cast by me, and yet....placed in a mold and spread like butter by the moon lit so hazily in the sky.
Jerod Diamond.....author..."Gun's, Germs and Steel"--- "Collapse' ---"Upheaval" ... Three pretty good books and while controversial in nature I must ask, have you read them? And if not, why? Do so as we approach this gray season where our smiles mask the illusion of sunnier days within us. As we scurry from door to door and skirt around pelting rain, or 'slip' a bit on ice....a season where the written words of books become neighbors and our minds grow old. .
In his book entitled "Upheaval' , written most recently, I might add...He voiced of nations with people much like us, who lived in past years....casually becoming a part of history although if not unwritten, certainly forgotten. Nations in a crisis...Finland, Japan, Australia and others or had daunting tasks to overcome. Yes, as we approach the present time, he finds our own nation co-existing in terminology if not more, with that of being 'in a crisis'.
I read ....past history I went....and found myself on page 402. Page 402 dealt with cats. Now, not Cat Stevens, for my youth and remembrance of nor the great Cat himself is worthy of page 402, but cats---you know, the domesticated ones and defined as those that are 'free to roam'. So domesticated to the point of being able to say hello to you while you sit on the pot and become king of your own thrown, or meowing from outside the window, .... if they go 'outside' ....they are what he speaks of. He spoke of numbers on page 402 and more specifically on numbers of birds which are ....taken care of, or played to rest, or eaten or killed or ....Well....regardless of the numbers, the numbers are what he mentions and since he didn't 'cite anything to support the numbers, I won't mention them, other than to state; numbers. The number of cats that kill birds in the United States compared to the number of birds which are killed by Wind Turbines (a green energy). That brought up a question to me of, the number of birds killed by 'windows' for he left that off.
So....being not 'cited'..I decided to check out his numbers. So I did what almost everyone else would do and Google it. Now, how accurate is 'googling"? Is it really accurate? I mean, ...come on now..... how do we really know or even 'best estimate' the number of birds kills by cats? I might be able to see where someone might be able to do a study on bird kills centered around one sky rise or a group of wind turbines and extrapolate what it might look like 'country-wide' but how does one estimate the number of birds killed by domestic cats? A difficult 'guess' would be my thinking.... In fact, any figure that someone throws at me is one I might question, be it high or low. But are you interested in those figures?
The Audubon Society estimates that between 40,000 to 348,000 birds are killed by wind turbines. A pretty wide range. Why 348,000 and not 350,000 if you are estimating? Why 40,000 and not 50,000? etc...
Countless sources on birds killed by buildings ....the estimates range from 100,000 to a billion. A pretty wide range eh?
Cats....? Well...an equal wide range. Various sources likewise and estimates from 1 billion to 4 billion.
So, there you have it...take it for what is worth. Cats win either way I would guess by looking at the estimates and birds lose. Sadly, birds can't take the loss as easily as I can though for If I ever lose my "hands, or eyes or legs, or mouth, my teeth north and south.....or "....I won't have to work or walk or, or or-- no more. Birds don't quite have the same option for they are just not going to be around in numbers as we have had in the past. Huge flocks of birds flying 'north or south'..... just aren't there anymore....be it cat related, building, turbine, or whatever. That reminds me, next weekend, my grandson and I will go and do some bird watching I think so he can view what we do have.
While a bit 'washed' .....you can clearly see two ravens. The 'washing' has nothing to do with 'drinking'' in this case, rather...only the accidental light shone upon ravens as the picture was taken. These Ravens absolutely and without a doubt did not partake of any drinking and flying that day. The male wearing his "Lincolneste" top hat and the lovely female donning a very 'glittery' hat. In my view, these two are right out of roaring 1920's....all dappered out and not 'unlike' those below who actually experienced the 20's. Below is a nice replica although please take note that the sequencing of Male/female above, does not quite match the sequencing below. So mentally reverse the image to keep the male/female sequencing. Warning: Do not confuse the word sequencing with sequins
Now perhaps in this case a bit of embellishment as most likely ravens would not have dressed 'as such' ...even in the roaring 20's. But for the purpose of our AAS holiday (Christmas....yes, let's call it what it is) party, the ravens (two per table) were donned nicely. In fact, they were pretty well dressed.
As the festivities of the day progressed from mushrooms (the good ones) to full-course meals to cookies and finally to the door prizes, the opportunity arose by all to capture the moment....to capture the ravens. The door prizes were abound and many shiny things appeared to up for grabs. Even though there were many shiny things on the array of prizes, I have to admit, not one raven....not one.....managed to catch their eye. They behaved. They sat 'in place' AND 'on the table' as proper table centerpieces....period. In other wards, they behaved, unlike what actually might have transpired if this was the roaring 20's.
(On a side-note....I am thinking the roaring 20's would have been a rather jolly good time for all, eh? Men and women sitting around a piano singing away.... glitter and sequins masking a bit, ..... well, .....we won't go there. )
But....as the door prizes were called out, the number I held was 29. Exactly 13 higher of a number than my draft number. Deb had number 19. Number called...number called, number called, number called, number called...then, 29. Oo la la....my turn. What do I take? Deb and I had perused the prizes ahead of time and had a few things in mind. I thought of a bird diary, as I like to keep track of my adventures 'in print' as opposed to on the computer (See previous blogs on), while Deb was looking at a red bag stuffed with goodies and having a snowy old peeking from it.
So when number 29 was called, I immediately pulled the diary off the prize table.... a few numbers down, the Owl was pulled off the prize table by someone, leaving Deb w/o her intended prize when called. But Robin, .....notified all that we can take the Ravens for they too...are prizes.
That got us thinking......ravens....why not the ravens. Yes by golly, the ravens it is. So I stood up in between calls and placed the bird diary back on the table, and selected the female raven in front of me. You see....the glittery hat she dons would be perfect for my two year old granddaughter as she loves Frozen 2 and that hat would fit nicely onto Elsa's head. And then Deb would select the male raven and dress it in purple and send it to her son in San Francisco who is a Baltimore Raven fan. Wow, what luck we had. And to boot, my female raven, after loosing her glitter, would be sent over to the cabin we have in Sweetwater and nailed to a fence post. From that point on, as lovely Sue stated, who was sitting next to Deb, would be called our "Raven's Nest'.....
So the end results of our door prizes were a glittery hat for one granddaughter, a raven turned Baltimore Raven for a son....a raven turned into a fencepost signifying you are were at the Raven's Nest.
Man...what success..... and this wasn't even the roaring 20's.