Tag Archives: owls

6 miles on January 24

In between truly frantic bouts of walking and running, visits to friends and appointments, I calculate that I covered about twenty-five miles of Brooklyn dirt-and-asphalt between Friday and Sunday evening, just barely keeping myself ahead of anxiety, insomnia, and numerous other purposeless maladies. I think that perhaps I was a shepherd in a former life, or a wandering penitent. A pilgrim of some sort. Or maybe a trades-person on the Silk Road hawking counterfeit perfumes.

Actually, now that I think about it, I’ve never had a job that required me to walk any distance, but I have had a remarkable number of early rising jobs.  In my younger days, to supplement my job at a museum, I would wake at 5:30am to bike blearily the five miles to a coffee-shop in downtown Minneapolis. Then, I would read the paper, bake scones, and drink endless amounts of coffee while waiting for my first beleaguered customers to arrive. In high school, I opened a coffee-shop in a mall where I would cheerily salute the mall-walkers who would descend upon the place before the selling began. One summer job at the embassy required me at 6am to get into a van filled with my directionless peers and be transported to the drab office where I would spend the next eight hours shredding. Finally, there was the 5:30am shift that I was forced to work as a bus-driver during college, which wasn’t so bad at all, considering.

Anyway, so today, I decided to run to Bay Ridge to investigate Owl’s Head Park on the edge of the Brooklyn peninsula. It turned out that this run was intensely tailored for my tastes: I ran up 5th Avenue for 47 blocks, passing Green-wood Cemetery, Sunset Park, the basilica, and all manner of slightly unpleasant industrial landscapes. Once I arrived, I found the park to be refreshingly free from the crazed athletes of Prospect Park: a forlorn birdwatcher informed me that nothing was to be seen in the trees, and some heavily-clothed man barked at me to “don’t stop — keep up the program!” as I sat on a bench watching the barges float against the backdrop of Staten Island.

On my way back home, I found a pile of free books on the sidewalk and picked up “Vanity Fair,” the journals of Athol Fugard, and some meditations on the Chesapeake Bay.

6 miles on January 9

Six miles! Possibly my longest run ever! And all because I passed my mom in her car on the way up the hill. She told me that a bald eagle lay ahead, at the next corner in the road beside the old gatehouse. Of course, the bird had long since moved on when I appeared, a red-faced apparition, but I spent a long time peering into the skeleton trees anyway. Gunshots were reverberating in the distance. I did see a woodpecker, but when I tried to get my mom to identify it she grew exasperated with my failure to register the important details.

“What color was it?”

“Red. And black and white.”

“Black like a ladder? With a red head?”

“It was very determined to build a nest! I really thought about what it must be like to be a bird!”

“…….It was probably a downy woodpecker.”

Actually, it turned out that yesterday was the day of missed avian sightings. At dusk, my mother and I suited up to go find the mysterious short-eared owls that had recently appeared at a pavilion near a town a few miles away. Although the scenery was striking (the fields were aflame and all the silos were silhouetted charmingly along the ridges), we failed to find anything, birds of prey or otherwise, despite attempting many owl calls into the rapidly darkening night.