First Friday: July 7
For his efforts, Clare can pick a recently published book from the bookshelves in the WildBird office. Woo hoo!
If you'd like to have your pick of that largesse, write an original 500-word short story about birds, birding or birders that includes a setting, a character or characters, a conflict and a resolution. Also, the birds cannot be anthropomorphized.
For the August edition of First Friday, please send your birding fiction on Aug. 2.
Thank you to this edition's participants!
Without further ado, here is "The Climb" by Clare Kines.
This was how the Fall was supposed to smell, the smell of highbush cranberries after the frost. It had been quite some time since he’d smelled Fall and felt the crunch of bright yellow leaves and frost under his feet.
It was light enough now, and he stopped, swung his things off his shoulder
and turned to look at the grove below him. Small birds could be seen, flitting here and there in the canopy and the undergrowth. Unzipping his jacket, he reached in and pulled out the binoculars. Ever since he could remember, he had liked the weight of a pair of binoculars around his neck, the release as he lifted them to his eyes, and the heft of them in his hands.
As he picked out the first tiny form and began the process in his head of running through the field marks, he wished he had his guide with him. Fall warblers were hard enough, without relying on memory. But that, that was a Wilson’s he was sure, and he watched it gleaning for insects in and out of a hazelnut bush. And wait, behind it, higher up, that was a Yellow-rumped, and farther off something else. A vireo? He couldn’t quite see it as it flitted through the remaining leaves of a small Birch.
He had just noticed the thrush on the ground and was raising his binoculars when he saw it coming in fast from his right. The thrush, a Swainson’s, saw it also, but too late, and the Goshawk hit it with an explosion of feathers. He had barely time to realize what had taken place when the hawk settled down in front of him and began to feed.
He identified with the hawk, vilified for what he had to do. Why couldn’t they understand that? Couldn’t they see that he had no choice? They couldn’t see that he had had to act, where no one else would. Why wouldn’t they just leave him alone?
He watched the Goshawk ripping feathers from the thrush and he followed one that was lifted by the breeze that had sprung up. That was when he saw the blue and flash of yellow below and raised his binoculars, running possibilities through his head. He strained as the colours resolved themselves into the uniform of the policeman below, and he watched for a while. He saw the dog straining at the lead as they worked their way along his earlier path. The dog seemed eager, determined, the cop grim.
He turned back to the hawk, but she was no longer there; only some stray feathers marked the spot. Lowering the binoculars, he scanned the trees, but she was gone. He turned and lifted the rifle and pack to his shoulder. Then he pulled the binoculars from around his neck and hung them on a branch of the Poplar he had been leaning on. Running his fingers along the leather strap, he turned and began climbing higher, into the sun.