"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

On the wings of change

Mississippi Kites are back.

You can hear their cries in the cooler, still air, or when the breezes ruffle the green oak leaves. We have some big trees in the neighborhood, and our neighborhood has become theirs in their annual migrations.

They've been here, in increasing numbers for a few weeks, and though you can hear their calls, you rarely see them.

Until recently, especially today. Cooler air and northerly breezes push a patchwork of clouds across the skies, and the Kites are soaring, swooping, gliding, talking as they wheel through the air.

Their distinctive pointed wings, with light gray trailing feathers and narrow tails remind me of the sleek Spitfires of the RAF. Everything about them is graceful. Unlike most hawks, they feed mostly on insects, so when they're up there, they're feeding, keeping bugs at bay. I like all hawks, but it seems these have chosen me, as totem, as metaphor?

One just glided through above the yard, not 15 feet over my head, tips of the wings up, flaps and tail instinctively twisting and guiding it on a reconnaissance flight, sharp eyes and curved beak exploring ...sure, secure, and wild and free. Overhead up the street, two more circle and tilt on the breeze, silhouetted against the white of the clouds.

It's almost autumn they tell me, as they live wild and free, enriching my life before they move on, making me want to travel, to explore, to soar and observe, even before the leaves begin to change and rattle, baring the limbs where the Mississippi Kites visited again.

Wings of change... .

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