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November 16, 2005: Passing over

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I would like to point out that the downside to watching "Into the Woods", especially if it happens to be one of your favorite plays and you have most of the lyrics of the songs memorized, is that you will then be plagued for days (DAYS) afterwards with random snippets from songs in no particular order. And if it was the whole song running through your head maybe that wouldn't be so bad, but it is not. It is just pieces that repeat themselves over and over and it is driving me insane. And yet I still hold an unnatural love for Stephen Sondheim's music and lyrics, so apparently even two line musical ear worms is not enough to change my mind.

Anyway.

I was driving home from work last night and as I came up upon the causeway, I looked up toward the sky and saw something so amazing I literally gasped, all alone in my car. And then I did my very best to get into an accident by craning my neck side to side and trying to see out every window so I could watch what was going on up there, all the while, somehow managing to avoid plowing into anyone else on the road. Considering how erratic the traffic was on the causeway last night I strongly suspect I was not the only one awestruck by the whole thing, although the guy in the little silver blue sports car to my left probably was not even aware of it, because I rather belatedly realized that the dirty looks he was giving me were likely because he thought I was gaping at him. Um. No.

It looked as if nearly every single bird in all of the surrounding few counties decided that last night was the night to fly south for the winter (although admittedly it looked as if they were all heading north, so I'm not sure exactly what to make of that). What first caught my eye was a wide swath of black spots winging across the sky - and it just kept on coming. The expanse of birds crossed over the causeway and disappeared into the distance and when I looked to where they were coming from it seemed as if that also went on forever. It was beyond amazing. Why everyone did not immediately slam into each other from not watching the road I will never know. I wanted so badly to pull over and whip out my camera and try to capture the view of thousands of birds flying overhead in one dense ribbon of black, but I knew I wouldn't be able to get a good picture, and besides, there really isn't anywhere to pull over on the causeway, and with my luck, even if I *did* pull over, I would naturally be the one the police would notice, which would cause them to pull over and give me a ticket because I strongly suspect 'taking pictures of all those birds, did you see them?' would not be an acceptable excuse.

I think what struck me the most was not that there were so many, but that they were not flying in formation. Further along the highway, just as I was coming off the causeway I saw another swath of birds, but these were all in formation, and so their flight path was liberally decorated with uneven v's. It was a little surreal to see them, especially since as I got nearer to where they were flying the air shimmered as if there was intense heat - a visual effect brought on by the fact that they were maintaining those formations perfectly, but the flapping of their wings caused the entire panorama to flicker. And again, those layers of v's stretched on either side of the road as far as I could see into the twilight of the sky.

As I pulled off the highway on the exit to home I could see back down the road, and up into the sky where the moon hung amid clouds as if it lay at the end of a road of watery silver. And even though I could not see the birds anymore, I rolled down my window and just for a moment I thought perhaps I could hear them, calling into the night even though by then it was almost too dark to see if they were truly there.

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