This post is about blue buntings. Be patient, I'll get there.
Today was one of the top ten days of the year down here. The weather was absolutely perfect. The humidity dropped low enough that for the first time in months my AC was turned off, doors flipped open, and breezes flowed through my home. The sky was sharp blue from the moment the sun rose to the time it set. The winds were finally gone, the sea was flat.
Being that it is Tuesday, it was a "Pop" day. Up and back over that 7 Mile Bridge. Twice. I'm never a fan of the actual trip because of the bridge, but have resolved that this is life down here; when I must go north off my tiny island, that bridge is involved. I was running ahead of schedule this morning, so I picked up Pop a bit earlier as well. I drive his car when I take him places. This is the way Pop wants it to be, I think it gives him a sense of control being that he still has a car, so theoretically he is still in command. Maybe that's a man thing, I'm not sure. It's an older car, not overly fuel efficient, and lacking in creature comforts like a cd player or satellite radio. I mention this because there's very few stations that come in clearly between here and Marathon, so I'm often tuned in to NPR instead of music on the Pop rides.
I dropped Pop off for his game, and was left with his shopping list and my own shopping list. I headed to the store in Marathon I hit once a week and immediately found a prime spot, in the shade. This has not happened since December. As I strolled up to the entrance, I saw "B" in his trusty spot. B is a Korean war veteran who has a motorized scooter that he rides around on in Marathon. Almost every Tuesday when I'm at the shopping center, B is holding court at the entrance, much like Pop does here on Long Beach in the morning. I stopped and chatted with B. Today he had on a new cowboy hat. I really liked it, suited him well. He looked a bit like John Wayne, and I told him so. I think he liked hearing that. His hat was emblazoned with "KOREAN WAR VETERAN" and some patches. I didn't ask what the patches were for, there were too many people coming and going that wanted to talk with B, I couldn't be selfish and hog the dialogue with him.
I went into the store, got my cart, and began to pluck the items I needed with great precision. The aisles were devoid of any people for the most part. The organic produce items I needed also didn't exist. The clues added up at that point: parking available in the shade, lots of locals chatting with B, no shoppers in the store, supermarket shelves cutting back on regular items....this can only mean one thing, that the majority of the snowbirds are heading home.
I made my rounds in record time, finished both my shopping and Pop's shopping. Heading back to the car, I waved a "see ya next week" to B, and loaded the loot into the back seat. As I shut the door I realized I was being watched. To my left was one of the most beautiful and gentle golden labs I've ever met. She was sitting in the shade, with all the windows open (I promise you, it was not a situation where she was locked in a hot car...any time I see that, I do call police). This beautiful island dog wanted to be friends. So, as I spoke to her and offered a gentle pat on the head, she actually began to nuzzle me, and won my heart. Her fur was so soft it was almost like that of a feline. We had a great visit. I noticed a few amused glances and short commentary thrown my way by passers-by. Animals are a great way to connect humanity to one another.
I headed back south over that big bridge, and tuned the dial off NPR "just to see" what was on the music station. Incredibly, it was a "two for Tuesday" on the station, and they were headstrong into some of my most favorite stuff. I turned up the volume as best I could in Pop's car, rolled the windows down, and drove. No one in front of me on the bridge, no one behind. Just the way I like it.
As I drove (over the bridge) to some of my most favorite music surrounded by water and weather I thought to myself how beautiful the place I call home really is. I imagined I was a visitor seeing all this for the first time, and understood better why I see so many people with camcorders hanging out their windows down here. I felt happiness, but wistful, wishing that I had the day off.
My most favorite music keep spewing out of the little speaker in Pop's car, 4 in a row. Enough to get me over the bridge and almost home.
When I got home, I was enveloped again in chores. Hours of work. Then I got mad because I saw a stack of recycling on my counter from this morning that the other happy vegan had not yet taken out. I was annoyed, it was clutter and I didn't like the way it looked. I grabbed the pile and headed out my back door. Then I got even more annoyed because on top of my recycling cabinet was a giant saw for a project he's working on. I decided to walk to the curb with the pile in my arms, still annoyed. I looked skyward, there he was.... a blue bunting. I could not believe my eyes. There has been only one other time I have ever seen an indigo bunting since I have lived here, and it was at the north end of the street... never here at my home. Within a split second, there was another one. A pair, yes, it was a pair of blue buntings. I became elated.
The pair was bouncing from limb to limb on a tree just outside my door, then flitted towards the ocean. I watched them til they were out of sight, then took the recycling to the curb, and went back inside. I couldn't believe what I saw, so I decided to see if I could find them. I went outside to the ocean. I began to walk the beach and headed towards the woods between my house and the burned out house a few lots down. I walked up the dune into the woods. I saw many small finches and realized that I had not even noticed we're in the middle of the annual finch migration; something I look forward to every year. Well, it was happening and I was too busy to even notice! All sorts of tiny finches were seeking refuge in the woods. I was quiet. I waited, then there he was. The blue bunting! And there was his mate too. Chirping and flitting, flitting and chirping. There is no mistaking a blue bunting. Mostly I'm so enamored with them because pretty much never in nature, as far as animals go, do I see blue. We don't have blue jays here, or any other blue birds. Key deer aren't blue, and neither is Peri.
I watched the pair til they disappeared into the brush. I headed back upstairs to finish my work, then got ready for a run. 2.5 miles into my run, there they were... 5 or 6 blue buntings hopping up and down over blades of grasses on an empty lot. Maybe there were even more than 6, I cannot be sure. They were moving so fast I couldn't count. They headed seaside, and vanished. Incredible, right?
After I got home, I had a few more chores to do, and a delivery. I loaded the car and headed down the street. At least 3 more blue buntings swooshed in front of my car. Cobalt. Indigo. Electric. Royal. Choose any of those words, put a beak and feathers on it, and you have a blue bunting. So bright they cancel out the blue of the sky.
Today was as near to perfect as a work day could be. Changes in latitudes man, changes in latitudes.