“Both male and female S. rufus are territorial; however, they defend different types of territories. The more aggressive males fight to defend areas with dense flowers, pushing females into areas with more sparsely populated flowers. Males generally have shorter wings than females, therefore their metabolic cost for hovering is higher. This allows males to beat their wings at high frequencies, giving them the ability to chase and attack other birds to defend their territory. The metabolic cost of short wings is compensated for by the fact that these males do not need to waste energy foraging for food, because their defended territory provides plenty of sustenance. Females on the other hand are not given access to the high concentration food sources, because the males fight them off. Therefore, females generally defend larger territories, where flowers are more sparsely populated, forcing them to fly farther between food sources. The metabolic cost of flying farther is compensated for with longer wings providing more efficient flight for females. The differences in wing length for S. rufus demonstrate a distinct sexual dimorphism, allowing each sex to best exploit resources in an area.”
I copied this straight from Wikipedia. Fascinating. Fair? For some reason, I trust their information for basic science, though I might be skeptical for more subjective knowledge. Around here, we call these birds “little bulldogs,” or more subjective epithets. I love them despite their aggression; they are beautiful, remarkable creatures. I am grateful to have the Rufous and the other two species zipping around the yarden all day, intensifying in the evening.
The last apples from Ruth and Jeff’s cellar, made into a delicious pie to say goodbye to our dear friends Connie and John, who’ve chosen to move back to Wisconsin to dwell among their large, expanding family.
All that week it was two days forward in my healing and one day back. Friday, the 21st, I stumbled through a step-back day, sweeping and cleaning counters, preparing dinner for the Pilots Club. I’d put it off twice already because of the dizzies, and ran out of time. John and Connie were practically packed for their big move out of our valley after twenty years. I met them shortly after they moved here, while I was building my adobe house and they were planning theirs, in a synchronicitous way. The story of our friendship is too big and long to tell all of, but some years ago I thought it would be fun to gather the three pilots I knew for dinner: Robert, a single neighbor, and John and Jeff, with their wives my dear friends. The six of us have enjoyed dinners or cocktails a couple of times a year since then, and I was determined to fit in a farewell dinner before Connie and John moved away.
I roasted one of Pamela’s extremely local free-range organic chickens from my new freezer, stewed down the last of the red potatoes from my garden with onions, turmeric, fresh ginger, cumin, dry mustard, coriander, and a little balsamic vinegar, and tossed a big green salad with some homemade shiitake dressing. Connie brought her famous smoked salmon spread and some hummus for hors d’oeuvres, Robert brought bottles of wine and rye and the best vanilla ice cream, and Ruth brought another bottle of wine and the last apple pie of their 2013 harvest. Though I was staggering like a drunk when they arrived just from the infection in my head, I allowed myself a few sips of red wine with appetizers, a few more sips with dinner. In the warm light of the dark house, the fire in the wood stove, the laughter and chatter of friends, the vitality of the food we ate for dinner, the gift of the last apples, something shifted. I sat back after dinner and watched my friends tell stories and laugh; Ruth took one of my feet and gave it a good strong massage, then the other. By the time everyone left I felt the best I had in three weeks. Everything about the evening was healing.
Among the first moss revealed by snowmelt, this patch grows at the base of a piñon seedling.
The next few days I ventured regularly into the woods. Despite my best efforts to nourish myself and keep going, the dizziness just wouldn’t let go. I trudged through the woods day after day more for the dogs than for me, though I did appreciate the greening forest. Still balancing with ski poles, still crossing big pillows of snow, dodging patches of mud, I noticed more and more green on the forest floor.
Ice Canyon began to melt as the days gradually warmed.
I walked farther one day than I have in a long while, wandering more or less around the medium loop, finding joy again in photographing trees. I stopped to rest in the Lounge Tree. This beautiful juniper with its extravagantly twisting limbs provides a comfortable seat for the weary traveler, offers a different perspective:
While shooting this lovely split tree, zooming in and out with my feet, caressing up and down the trunk with my camera, I caught sight of a bald eagle high in the distance. She did show in some of the shots, but she was even smaller than some of the artful specks of this imaginary lens, so I won’t try to persuade you she’s here. Step by unsteady step I walk steadily back into my life.