A Walk on Wooded Isle


April 20, 2015

A Walk on Wooded Isle

Spring had been so long in coming. At last tree buds, gray-green and plump, were braving the frigid sunshine. I had left my office in only a thin windbreaker, with just my keycard in my pocket, my cold hands clasping the cuffs of my sleeves. I had intended to circuit the Japanese garden--gravel path, half-moon bridge, stepping stones across the dry pond--then go back to work.

Instead I pressed on into the less kempt part of the park. An old man pumped by on his battered Schwinn. A faded sign said, "Bird Sanctuary. Please stay on the path."

Starlings and sparrows darted from ground to bush and back again, but one little bird, so like a titmouse in size and color but uncrested, remained perched on a yellowed remnant of last summer's weeds. I was entranced by this slate-colored creature I could not name. At last it darted off into the trees, and I shuffled back to work.

When I returned to my office, I searched online for "small blue bird Illinois." I clicked through the flood of images until I found the blue-gray gnatcatcher, sized so it can snatch its miniscule prey on the wing.

Now I know its name, but I also know I revisit that day because I stood there considering nothing but the cold sunlight, this little bird, and the leafless twig it perched upon. I fed upon a tiny crumb of wonder--which is always there if we will find it, isn't it?


Photo "Blue-gray gnatcatcher" provided by Dendroica cerulea via Flickr creative commons license.

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