Baby Owls!

While I have lived in the city all my life, I am accustomed to wildlife that adapts to the infringement of its environment. Two houses my family has lived in had raccoons in the chimneys we had to get out. One of my best childhood friends had foxes in her front yard raising their young every year. I work down the street from previous wild turkey hangout (he was sent to Dedham this spring after a car hit him). But previous to living in Belmont, I’d never been living with owls.

Belmont is a friendly town just barely outside of Boston. Its houses are close together and its neighbors are even closer. When you come home and see the people next door standing around talking, you expect to take at least 20 minutes to get into your own place, if exchanging the bare minimum of courtesies. The people have a very small-town feel, but the availability of shops and culture are very metropolitan. I like that mix.

It is because of that mix that the owl sighting was so unexpected, and so widely published. Who really
expects to see an owl in the city? They live in barns and other enclosed places not typically frequented by humans, especially as they hunt at night. But this one was out in the daytime, perhaps pursuing something it noticed in a half-daze, as owls are largely opportunistic hunters. I don’t really know who saw it first, if it was one of the kids next door or someone startling it into flight, but for days we’ve all been rushing outside with our cameras whenever we hear a fuss on the street. First it’s the racket of songbirds aware of a predator, and then it’s people, talking in hushed but carrying tones so as not to disturb it. Word travels fast – now grandparents and friend are coming over to give the bird a look on a regular basis. There’s been at least on pellet discovered that fell into our driveway, but it didn’t look like there were bones in it. We think it may be an Eastern Screech, but that’s just a guess really.

But it was after a neighbor saw our owl catch a songbird and swoop it away to eat that we discovered the nest. He took it straight into a hole in an old tree, probably to feed hungry babies. We know there are at least two now – we’ve been able to see them poking their little heads out, probably getting ready for flight. Owls may be killers, and they might be slightly more round than sleek predator birds like hawks and eagles, but they are beautiful in flight. I want to see those fat little downy babies roll out of their nest and take off in beauty, their strange little humanish faces turned into the wind.

Baby 1

Babies 2

Babies 3

Photoblog updated

A few new things here.

Lost in ether, lost in life.

Peter Gabriel is putting out a new internet survival tool called ‘The Filter’. By visiting an online site and inputting preferences, this little tool will make suggestions as to what you might like in film and music right at this very moment. The idea is interesting to me, and I hope to explore just how the thing comes up with its suggestions. However, it has one serious drawback – I enjoy the search more than the results. True, there are times when i just want to hear music in a particular vein, but when I want to find something new, I typically want to find it by myself, rather than relying on friends or tools. I want to dip my hands into the wriggling, writhing life of art, music, and film, and see what my dirty fingernails can dredge up. I I don’t have to wade through the trash a little bit, I feel like I haven’t accomplished as much. And besides, I like drifting online into different vaguely related areas. It allows my mind to jump like it’s meant to.

The feeling of being ‘lost’ in web surfing or blog reading or any of the other ways to spend countless hours sifting online is not necessarily one that feels like a loss to me. True, I am most likely not normal in that regard. I have the intense focus, the kind of mental blinders that could keep me engrossed in the Weather Channel or even static on television as a child. True, it can cause your body to cramp in uncomfortable positions and even for meals to be missed, but so can 14 hours working on the next big studio project for my undergrad architecture major. At times, this focus allows me to concentrate exclusively on what I need to get done. And anything I’m focusing on that intently, whether online or in real life, has to be interesting.

Almost exactly opposite to this online losing of oneself is another pastime I admire, sitting by myself in the woods. I’m not talking about Annie Dillard Pilgrim at Tinker Creek observing and thinking and speculating to the extreme. I really mean just sitting. Maybe observing a little, maybe feeling the wind and hearing animal sounds or the movements of tree branches and streams. Maybe even thinking about profound things. Mostly though, just sitting still and letting the world move around you a bit, thinking in an experiential way that lets the moment pass and fade as a natural order of things. Here there is a losing as well, a sort of loss of conscious thought or at least a sense of progression in those thoughts. Again, like the search for new music and film should, it invokes a sense of path rather than start or finish.

Perhaps the desire to have these experiences is a female thing, or a lack of restlessness, or a strange way that my mind works. However, it seems I am more interested in the way filters work and my own non-logical filter of a brain than those others propose, no matter that I enjoy their music or appreciate their attempts to access technology in new and meaningful ways.

Flying, by bike.

In Massachusetts pedestrian rights are pretty strictly enforced.  When I first moved here from China (where drivers don’t care to avoid you or the 40,000 bikes swarming around you as you try to cross the street), I was shocked that people actually slowed down and rolled to a stop when I began to cross.  I was accustomed to accurately gaging the speed of traffic so that I could pass behind a car that was coming towards me in the other lane.  Mass. drivers totally threw off my timing.  Also, the bikers didn’t signal, broke countless rules of traffic, and got into everyone’s way.  The worst I saw was some idiot pushing his MOTORcycle up a narrow sidewalk going the wrong way on a one way street.  I mean, I don’t like bicycles on the sidewalks – you’re not a pedestrian, you don’t belong there – but I can understand that on some roads there really issn’t space for a bike on the street without causing major traffic problems.  But a motorcyclist who’s just too lazy to make three sides of a square?  It’s not like he can’t afford the gas.

Perhaps that’s why it didn’t surprise me to see a bicyclist flip over the hood of a car that was stopped at a traffic light.  True, the car was slowing to a stop in the pedestrian walkway, rather than at the white line where he was supposed to stop.  True, the bicyclist probably shouldn’t have been in the pedestrian walkway itself, even though his lane of traffic did have the right of way at that point.  Also true that a bike can’t swerve as fast as a car can stop.  Still, if the biker had been a little more careful and aware, he probably wouldn’t have been flung bodily across the top of the car.  Silly biker.  Flips are for kids!

But sometimes, it’s not the bikers who are at fault.  Take the recent bike race in Monterrey, Mexico.  A drunk driver fell asleep at the wheel and bashed into almost the entire race.  You can check out the picture of bikers flying everywhere here.  I would say the entire incident is hilariously funny if it hadn’t already resulted in at least one death.  Even though the race is an event that probably took all precautions, anything can happen, especially to those with less protection on the road.  Bikers, for your own safety, please obey the rules of the road and don’t take unnecessary risks.