colby caldwell

Sebastian Matthews - Day Six

colby caldwell
Sebastian Matthews - Day Six
Two Ways.jpg

Life Bird

Friday 2 to 4pm

Beaver Lake

I am out birding with Jay, so I start snapping shots of random things—park sculpture, a graffiti-covered road sign. When I spy an old tennis ball wedged deep into the bog marsh, I take a picture of it too.

            “Look, Jay,” I say, handing over my camera phone. “It’s a life ball!”

            Jay chuckles, hands me back the phone, and moves on. He knows I am a smartass.

My mother, an ardent birder, turned me onto the phrase “life bird” years back. It always seemed a little strange to me, a tad morbid. 

I follow after Jay, zooming in on the shot with that particular two-finger spread. 

            “A Wilson 7. That’s rare.”

Jay ignores me, his binoculars up to his eyes. He’s staring at a tree across the lake, trying to match the call he’s heard to a particular branch.

            “A Carolina Wren,” he confirms, adjusting the focus on binoculars.

            I can’t let it go. 

“They stopped using that shade of yellow after the 7, you know.”

And I keep up the less and less funny banter all the way around the south end of the lake. We’ve returned to the car. Jay is busy arranging his gear in the back. 

“Nothing new,” he says to himself.

I whisper back: “It’s the Penn 3 that I am really after.”