Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Fly Away

Rainbow Bee-eater, Merops ornatus.
(click on image for a slightly larger version in its own window).

This visit is the best gift I’ve ever received.

Heartfelt thanks to John and MA for the providing these broken wings with the gift of flight, Hernan (the bullfighter) for caring for the parrots, Tom for a terrific meal, and especially PZ and his wonderful family for providing a nest and companionship to this wandering spirit.

Starlings in Winter

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly
they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine
how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,
this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

Mary Oliver [Starlings in Winter in Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays, Amazon Beacon Press, Boston, 2003]



  1. #1 Michael Porter
    January 22, 2006

    That’s a *wonderful* picture — any chance there is a slightly higher rez version floating around for our computer desktops?!


  2. #2 Dawn
    January 22, 2006

    I am glad you had such a great time. You deserve it! good on ya!

  3. #3 Jamie
    January 22, 2006

    Bee-eater is avicentric nomenclature and supports the paradigm of oppression of the Apis class. Er, genus.

  4. #4 GrrlScientist
    January 22, 2006

    I’d love to share that picture with you at a higher resolution, Mike, but it is currently floating around out there, homeless, unattributed and without a larger version to link to. I did link the image to the largest version that I have, so it will pop up in its own window.

  5. #5 Michael Porter
    January 23, 2006

    Ah, well, thanks for trying. The pop-up isn’t actually that bad as a desktop, just a bit of pixellation.

  6. #6 checkers
    March 27, 2006

    checkers Probaly you should read this. checkers Hope this helps. See you next life. Buy checkers now

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