Walking the dog in the morning is not one of my favorite things. It needs to be done. It's good for me (I need the exercise); it's good for the dog (he needs the exercise). It's a good time to just think about things on my own. But like many things that are good for you, it's not something I generally get excited about. However...
The other morning was crisp and clear. Rain had cleared out the smoke haze that had been hanging around for almost a week. The sky was that wonderful light baby-blue color with fluffy wispy spun-sugar clouds floating around lazily. The rain had broken up not only the haze, but also the heat. The morning was colder than usual. I actually wore a jacket with my floppy hat. The sun is up and beating down when I walk the dog, so I wear the hat to keep the sun out of my eyes (safety hazard, I don't want to trip) and I walk on the shady side of the street.
As we walked the chilly damp sidewalk in the neighborhood I noticed that bird sounds were getting closer. Not the occasional cheep, or a short birdsong, this was a full on flock of birds all shouting at each other. Some of them sounded like they were screaming. All of them seemed to be trying to be heard above the others. It got louder and louder as we walked. Squawk, screech, shriek, squeal, grumble.
The racket seemed to be coming from one particular house, but I couldn't see the birds. I didn't see them in the trees, they weren't on the roof. They certainly weren't on the grass. As we got to the house the noise shut off, like someone had thrown a switch. I thought perhaps the birds were afraid of the dog.
Two streets over, I start hearing the same noise. The birds had moved, perhaps. Only this time the noise is across the street. And this time I can see the birds.
An enormous flock of birds were perching in a tree. An old, weathered aspen with no leaves on the top third was covered in small birds. At first I missed the birds, not remembering that the top of the tree had no leaves. The birds were covering the branches like leaves, squawking and squabbling and making a tremendous racket.
I took my hat off so I could see better. Some of the birds were jumping off the branches, only to come back and land in another spot on the tree, screaming all the while. Then as I watched they suddenly all took off from the tree. The entire flock rose, arching through the sky. It looked like a cloud made out of birds, flowing through the sky, rising and falling like a wave, swirling, swooping, and disappearing off by the horizon.
One of autumn's amazing and magnificent sights, and I got to see it because I walked the dog that morning.