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Monday, June 08, 2009

tree swallows and the "Genius of the Wood"

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In the meadow near the pond, Pa stayed on the branch and Ma in the house as the photographer tried to simultaneously swat mosquitoes and keep the camera still. They quietly protected their babes in the box, never leaving in spite of my lurky-jerky loitering. Though I didn't hear it, they have a sweet song.

Henry David Thoreau (whom Louisa May Alcott called "the Genius of the Wood") said:

I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.

You think if a sparrow landed on Mr. Thoreau's shoulder while he was hoeing, a swallow or sparrow or bluebird might land on mine while swatting? I doubt it. Emerson said Thoreau would sit so still the birds came after a while and watched him.




54 comments:

Deslilas said...

Your swallows are very smart with their shining steeel blue shoulders !
I think ours are only black and white.

Kerri said...

Beautiful captures!!
I would LOVE to have one light on my shoulder :)

Sally's World said...

lovely pictures!

Rachael said...

Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing them with us. :)

California Girl said...

That is a beautiful post Ruth. The photos are wonderful. I cannot imagine sitting so still that a bird would light on me. How incredible that must have been.

Sandy said...

Loved the post and photos..anything birds, catches me right away.

Cheffie-Mom said...

Beautiful photos, the bird's blue coloring almost looks transparent in the first one.

Claudia said...

The change in perspective is quite amusing, human watching... I imagine this lovely bluebird taking in our little behavioral peculiarities in a game of who's watching who...

renaye said...

sweet.

RYC: 'la' is a particle in the malay language. just like japanese has a particle called 'ne.' malaysians r well known for its la usage.

so malaysians often talk bla bla and then we add la to the end to indicate some emotions of the moment. so the lady was actually telling me "please change ur job...". la can be deleted from the sentence but we often add la to emphasise our feelings of that moment.

i know it's quite hard to absorb this but welcome to malaysian culture!

ds said...

Oh, those are marvelous photographs! How do you get them so sharp (and I love the thing you do with the edges)? How nice to have a little of the 'genius of the woods' in your own backyard.

Anna said...

Hey Ruth just yesterday I was chasing them with my camera in the nearby pond, they are so nice and shiny, but I got no nice picture as yours. Mine is a little blue white-blue dot sitting on the tree, lol. Thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts Ruth. Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Beautiful close ups Ruth, hey I had a pigeon poop on me once, and I wasn't even standing still,does that count?,lol.

btw, that was a cool link Ruth, very pretty song, you took a better picture of one though.

Nautankey said...

Beautiful!! Sparrows are extinct in my city :( they were there when I was a kid and have ran behind them. Thanks to pollution, mobile towers my kids will see them in pictures and cages.

shicat said...

Hi Ruth, Beautiful photos. Love the way the last photo is circular and the edges muted.Is that done with photoshop?

Ah,Thoreau...

Christina said...

i just bought a little bird feeder. i thought it might help me get better pics of the little cuties.

your visitors are gorgeous!
xo

Ruth said...

Yes, there are many types, Daniel, and I also confuse swallows and sparrows.

Ruth said...

Kerri - fellow bird lover - can you imagine? We'd just have to enjoy it, and not worry about a photo.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Sally!

Ruth said...

Thank you, Rachael - you have a gorgeous blog!

Ruth said...

Thank you, CG. I think Thoreau had an extraordinary ability to spend great amounts of time out there. I can't imagine either.

Ruth said...

You, Sandy - you like birds??

Hehe.

Ruth said...

Yes, the blue is incredible, Cheffie-Mom, I thought it was a bluebird at first.

Ruth said...

Claudia, I wonder if they would find our behavior rather pointless?

Ruth said...

Thank you for the explanation, Renaye. I tried leaving a comment at Speak to the Finger, but it wouldn't post it after loading and loading. I tried a few times. Persnickety it was.

Ruth said...

Thank you very much, DS. I was lucky on this one, with this long lens, because it is manual focus, and my eyes are very bad now.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Anna for being so sweet.

Usually birds don't cooperate with me. I was very surprised this day that they sat still like that. I was lucky they were protecting their baby/babies.

Ruth said...

Hey, thanks, Bob. Ha, well, being a pigeon target isn't quite the same, but it does have its own intimacy. At least you didn't get it in the mouth like Cyndi Lauper singing at a concert! I understand she rinsed and kept right on singing.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Nautankey. That's sad. City life is hard on the little things, and it must be hard on you too. Be careful!

Ruth said...

Cathy - thank you. Yes, Thoreau and Emerson have really been inspiring me lately.

No, it's not PhotoShop. It's Photoscape, in the frames section.

Ruth said...

Good idea, Christina. Love ya.

Barry said...

I once had a blue jay land on me. He looked at me intently for a few seconds and then took off.

No idea what that was all about.

But it was a memorable experience.

Ruth said...

Barry, wow.

Loring Wirbel said...

The bottom sparrow picture is to die for. BTW, the more Emerson you read, the more you get the feeling that Thoreau wasn't so much a silent Buddhist as a true curmudgeon - he could annoy his friends at times.

Susan said...

I love swallows, so pretty! And David told me a long time ago that there was a bird he used to dream about, or rather he dreamed about its song, but he didn't know what it was. I finally found out through masterful detective-y searching that it was a field sparrow. It has a beautiful song.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Loring.

Yeah, I was already getting that idea on the re-read of Emerson's essay on him. I don't think Thoreau was all too pleasant to be around from the sound of it.

Ruth said...

Oh wow, Susie, David dreamt about swallows? Heard their song? What a special dream, my goodness. And it sounds like more than once too. Tell him I think that is very cool.

Hang in there, don't overdo, and thanks for commenting when you're so busy.

photowannabe said...

Stunning shots of the vivid blue-birds. Love your thoughts too Ruth.

Ruth said...

Thanks a lot, Sue.

J.G. said...

Such beautiful birds! That particular shade of blue is heavenly.

CottageGirl said...

Gorgeous photos, Ruth ... as always a delight for the eye as well as the soul!

Thank you for the inspiration you instill in me!

Wendy said...

Really lovely post. This is my first time here. I heard about you from Barry. :)

Ruth said...

Exactly, J.G., heaven was what I thought too. Iridescent too.

Ruth said...

Such a wonderful thing of you to say, CottageGirl - thank you!

Now for some of that homemade ravioli, and scones. Please, I beg you.

Ruth said...

Hi and welcome, Wendy. Wow, did I ever have fun browsing your blogs. I'm following you at the front porch. So cool. And congrats on Blog of Note!

Moi said...

beautiful blue on the bird, Ruth. I am an "empty-nester" now.....the finch family that decided to make their home in my hanging basket have all left.......and all I am left behind with is a soiled nest and the pics i took while they were around :((((

Ruth said...

Hi, Moi - that blue just sent me too.

Maybe you'll have another bird family next year, I hope so. I feel the same about the twin fawns we had last year that grew up and left us.

Arti said...

How could you get so close? These are great pics. I stayed on an acreage last year about this time, and took some pictures similar to yours here... but I had a hard time getting close to the birds. I had a barn swallow very similar to what you have here. The bird house is just the right shelter from paparazzi!

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, Arti.

I have a nice 70-300 mm lens that lets me get "close." But even that lens doesn't usually help me with birds that are still a little too far to capture in any kind of clarity. I was fortunate this time because the birds were guarding their young. I hope I didn't frighten them away, as they are gone now.

Oliag said...

Beautiful photos Ruth! I thought they were bluebirds at first too...

Having a wild bird land on you is truly enchanting and mystical...years ago I hand fed chickadees who would land on my hand and head to get birdseed...

Ruth said...

So lovely, Oliag - I've heard about birds eating out of people's hands, and I just marvel at that.

dutchbaby said...

I've been so busy lately that I haven't had a chance to visit you. I'm so happy to find these beautiful images paired with perfect words. I've missed your artistry!

Esther Garvi said...

What a beautiful sparrow!

Ruth said...

Thank you, dear Dutchbaby.

Ruth said...

Thanks for stopping, Esther - the blue really sends me too.