Milan Kundera formerly wrote, “ The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. ” That line has long stuck with me. Conceivably because I wrote a paper in council about the novel it came from – “ The Book of horselaugh and Forgetting ” – and conceivably because it’s the first line of said novel.
I ’m floundering to flash back specifics of characters or plot points from the book, and all I can come up with is the image of a Czechoslovakian Communist leader being airbrushed out of a major print after he’d fallen from political favor. Also, looking it up, the line I quoted isn’t the first line of the novel, but the alternate line of the alternate chapter. Still, it stuck.
It floated up again the other morning at Fort Zachary Taylor. Not so much the struggle- of- man- against- power part. It was the struggle- of- memory- against- forgetting part. occasionally I suppose about how important calculation I knew as a sprat, how numerous computation loops I could jump through, and how little of that I’ve retained.
occasionally I suppose about all the catcalls that migrated north in the spring, and are now migrating south, and I’ve this inviting fear that I ’m going to blank out on their IDs, that memory will lose the upper hand to forgetting.
It had been a long, enough stressful summer, and I had n’t set up time to do important birding, at least not the walk- around- and- see what- you- can- find type. substantially it had been charge acquainted – going out to track down commodity specific – or arbitrary – seeing commodity on the way to the grocery store.
And I ’d spent utmost of the former week driving to Alabama to pick up a canine. I felt out of touch with one of the effects that most reliably brings me joy in life. Especially since it was migration season in one of the stylish places in the country to see migration in action.
Actually, I was upset about leaving the new canine alone in the house. But it had to be some time, so I figured I ’d raspberry for an hour, and see if the canine got into any trouble.
Walking into the hammock, my fears of having gone raspberry stupid were palliated a bit when the raspberry world threw me a softball – an American redstart, the small, insolvable to miscall chanter spinning its way up a branch with its tail spread like a cancan cotillion . Next there was an overbird, another small chanter, doing a Mick Jagger strut.
Over on the berm the world gauged up when I flushed a chuck- will’s- widow, a brown raspberry, the size of my woman
’s shoe, that break- sheered down through the trees. A blue-argentine gnatcatcher, a fine Old World chanter, threw me by the way that it did n’t spin as it faded and reappeared behind a cluster of leaves. I looked up to see a flock of snowy egrets in conformation. A common- yellowthroat, another recently arrived chanter, was working downward in a backcountry.
At the edge of the culvert a magnific frigatebird circled above. also, a hundred yards down, a large black mass dropped at an attack angle toward the far edge of the culvert. It faded into a low boscage of trees with a slighting sound and I bothered.
Nothing Happed for a solid nanosecond, but also a dark- phase short- tagged jingoist popped up, having missed its target, and drifted off.
It’s always a debate whether it’s worth the long walk across the field at Fort Zach to the cluster of trees known informally as the Back 40, especially when it’s hot as Hades, but I started toward it. Half there I spotted a pile of feathers and bones. The cranium was missing, but the long legs made me suppose wading raspberry, and when I flipped one of the bodies over, there was a lot of rufous in the feathers, which made me suppose green heron.
While being all “ CSI Bird Crimes ” I heard a splash behind me and turned to see a belted kingfisher rise out of the water. also I heard what my notes describe as a “ low form grunt ” – it was voice to textbook, so no doubt I did n’t say form – and I turned to see a white ibis in a descending glide over the water.
As I worked toward the Back 40 I caught sight of the white S- shape of a great white heron in the shadow of a aeroplane
, also the smiley- face yellow of a champaign chanter in a mangrove, also, a hundred bases above the stronghold, the wild flopping of a merlin, the most sickie of the American falcons, on an critical charge to beget some mischief nearly.
In the blessed shade of the hammock I heard the yip of a barn swallow, but did n’t bother to look for it, as I ’d seen a many thousand on the drive from Alabama. also I saw a black- and-white chanter twisting up a branch, as if trying to trace the erratic stripe of a inadequately painted hairstylist pole.
There was a sextet of introductory Florida Keys raspberry species – a brace of northern mockingbirds, a royal tern, a laughing chump and a mourning dove.
The first raspberry that made me misdoubt myself was in a patch of ragweed on the way back across the field. It was amid-sized songbird, brown and streaky, with a big honking bill, adhering to one of the stalks. I gestured a butterfly net around my cranium for a while, came up with nothing, felt defeated compactly, and also saw it easily a dickcissel, which isn’t some fourth- grade interpretation of obscenity, but rather the name of a small, seed- eating raspberry that types in the Midwest and that you get to see then formerly or doubly a time if you ’re lucky.
The alarm went off on my phone, telling me it had been an hour. I had n’t indeed gotten to all the good spots in the demesne, so I hit reprise and headed back toward the hammock for another hour.
When I got home, the new canine had only eaten a single brace of my flip flops.