Photo taken in November, 2011

To our great delight and lasting enrichment, Joe and I are once again in Germany. We moved back to Rodenbach in July, but I had no time for the blog because I was working on two manuscripts at once. I’m still working on two manuscripts at once, and I still have no time, but I’m restarting the blog anyway. It has a positive effect on how I see my surroundings here. It makes me notice and enjoy things, and it encourages me to get out and learn. But I won’t be able to write posts as long as the ones I wrote before, at least not at first. I’ll have to limit myself to just a photo and paragraph or two.

Migration is something Joe and I did to get to Germany, but it’s also something the birds have done lately. Now that it’s winter, I sometimes feel that the crows and their clown-suit cousins, the magpies, are the only birds left around here. I live at the edge of wheat fields, and this summer, twittering bands of barn swallows swooped over the fields or settled down in the eaves of nearby houses and chattered and gossiped together. But now that it’s winter, they’re gone, along with a host of other talkative birds. The autumn days are quiet, with only, every now and then, the crow’s brassy, ominous call.

Maybe because I’m a writer, I like to know the names of things, but since I’m a traveler, I often don’t. My mother has lived in north Texas almost her whole life, and she seems to know the name of every wildflower and passing bird. I didn’t realize how many of those names she had passed on to me. I took for granted being able to glance out the window and say, “That’s a grackle” or “There’s a house finch” or “Listen to that bluejay!” But now that I’m in Germany, I’ve stepped outside the circle of things I can name. German birds are different from my mother’s birds back home. So I own a book now: Birds of Europe. And every time I see a new bird, I run grab my book and look it up. That’s how I’ve gotten to know the barn swallows this year; also white wagtails, Eurasian jays, green woodpeckers, merlins, redstarts, and other birds that are normal, everyday sights here but mysterious and exotic to me.

I’m growing. I’m expanding my circle of named things.

To read my latest blog posts, please click on the “Green and Pleasant Land” logo at the top of this page. Photo taken in November, 2011, in Weilerbach, Germany. Text and photos copyright Clare B. Dunkle.

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4 Responses to Migration

  1. tanita says:

    I’m so glad you’re back in Germany; we’ve since returned to the US after five years in Scotland, and I’m so homesick and out of sorts for my life there that this takes a bit of the edge off… we may be in Cork by next summer, so my traveling bug will just have to wait it out, but I’ve become a migrating bird myself a bit. What an odd feeling it must be to follow that magnetic pulse and strike off for parts unknown…

  2. Nancy says:

    I’m so glad you’re posting again.

    I miss European crows. I’d always thought it was a bit of fancy when I’d read in continental fairy tales and novels about crows croaking. Everybody knows crows caw.

    And then I moved to France. Turns out those writers were not so fanciful after all. American crows caw, but European crows croak. I miss their voices.

  3. Clare B. Dunkle says:

    Thanks so much! For the time being, it’ll have to be sporadic, but once I get these manuscripts out of the way, I’m hoping to go back to my old posting schedule.

    And you’re right about how different the European and American birds are! I didn’t realize how used I was to the patter of American birds. I miss mockingbirds and jays the most.

  4. Clare B. Dunkle says:

    I hope you can shake the doldrums soon and that you do get to come back over here. Life is too short to see the same old thing day after day. Yes, it’s astonishing when you think what birds accomplish in their migrations. They look like such fragile things, but it’s deceptive, isn’t it?