Sunday, January 25, 2009

Delta Geese

We've noticed several posts on the Mississippi Bird list server about Snow Geese in the Delta not far from here. The geese are common in many areas of the US in winter, especially in farm land that is semi-flooded, but Wifeunit and I had never actually seen them, even though we've been on trips through the Delta in winter several times. I was determined to see them, so yesterday we drove northwest through Pocahontas and up into the hills and high bluffs that mark the boundary of the vast, flat Mississippi Delta.

The road we followed falls out of the bluffs and into the little town of Satartia, next to the Yazoo River. We learned on our Indian Mound trip last year that the Yazoo River was originally the subject of Stephen Foster's song "Sewannee River", but he asked the meaning of the name Yazoo and was told it meant River of Death, so that was that.

We drove out of Satartia into the flat farmland and before too long we found the Snow Geese -thousands of them - and they all had something to say. The word "cacaphony" would be appropriate to describe what we heard when we pulled over and rolled down the windows. Our trip turned out to be shorter that expected since we found the geese so far south. Mission Accomplished.

Today I took advantage of rare calm wind conditions and a reasonably warm 45 degrees, and canoed out into the middle of beautiful Pelahatchie Bay. I was alone but for 2 fishermen far away, and a few dozen Least Terns and Ring Billed Gulls. The wind picked up a little and forced me back in, but I was able to snag a few nice pieces of driftwood.

Monday, January 12, 2009

January Again

Of course I've been busy since Thanksgiving, and lazy, and training for a marathon in February that I've decided not to do. I had such a good time punishing myself for two half marathons that I decided enough was enough. Now I can look forward to a fresh new year, get back on the bike, work harder on swimming, and level off on a comfortable running routine for me.

In early December I ran a half on a cool day and felt good afterward. The 2nd Mississippi Blues Marathon (and Half) was not so comfortable but a lot more fun.

I'm running slower than last year and I don't mind. I'm running for fun and health. On a 7 mile run Saturday, I overtook a local legend - Murray - 80 years old. He does 3 to 5 miles 3 times a week. He had just moved to the neighborhood and I recognized him from having seen him at many 5Ks. I slowed (only slightly) to run with him and listen to his story. In case you runners weren't aware, the reason you get slower in your 70's, according to Murray, is that "your lungs draw up and you can't get as much air". I'll accept that. I'll be happy to be alive at 80, but if it's still possible to run at that age I'll do it.

I'm reminded by our friend how much many of us admire and respect those who lived their lives in a different age, how their lives were shaped by different experiences long before our birth. They have wisdom in their words and example that is sometimes hard to recognize. After they've passed from this world, we think how lucky we were to have been a witness to their greatness, and maybe hope to be so admired when we are gone.

I need to mention that Wifeunit and I joined a team of 25 or so dedicated local birders and thousands across the U.S. and participated in the Jackson area Christmas Bird Count. It was our first time and a great experience. We were in 8 groups covering a huge area, 3 in our group. We counted more than 60 species while the total for all Jackson groups was slightly over 100 species.

Also, I must highlight the superb effort of Wifeunit at our annual New Year's celebration. She volunteered her talents as Conductor of the first performance of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Eight-Piece Party Horn Orchestra. Brava!