Saturday, February 20

When the rivers run free

It is a Spring ritual of mine to pay attention to the rivers as soon as they start to open up. A lot of birds that have been gone for awhile tend to come back, and some that stick around, but hidden in small corners, tend to show up more openly. In the past two days, I have seen five red-tailed hawks and three bald eagles in spots on or near the Connecticut River (in Southern Vermont and New Hampshire, on the border between the two states).

I'm going to start with an apology. I've grown out of the habit of blogging as much as I used to; not as much photography either. The reason is good, and valid, but I still feel like I've lost something. Well, in the very specific sense I have. Precisely, I've lost a bit of weight and finally started moving in the direction I need to for proper control of the diabetes. Being a complete and total geek I, of course, have to create a tool to track things, so I built a simple php graphing tool that tracks my steps per day, looking at averages over the previous 1-week, 2-week, 4-week & 8-week periods.

Since I started tracking all this walking (mostly at home, on the treadmill, but a bit of it outdoors as well) 133 days ago, I've walked over 3 million steps and over 1,125 miles. Considering that prior to doing this, I almost never walked more than 15,000 steps in a single day, and since I've started tracking, I've only gotten *below* 15,000 8% of the time, I think this is good progress.

But it, combined with one full time job and a part-time job as well, makes it more difficult to blog and, more importantly, takes time away from birding (not to mention my other passion, which is music, and what apparently is the CD project that will not die, as I keep working on it and it keeps not being done).

So I'm doing my best, blogging when I can, posting from time to time, but sometimes just feeling completely out of touch with what's going on. I stopped in the other day on Kos and noticed that my TU status was gone. That's only happened once before, so it was a bit of a surprise, but it makes sense that it would happen.

But tonight, I'm posting about birds. And I'm really happy to be doing so.

Below are some of the birds you can expect to find in New England as the waters open wide. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

A quick note: these are all smaller versions of the photos. Full sized versions are available as click-through links on the photos shown here.

One more thing: it looks as though I may be doing an exhibit this summer at the the Parker River visitor's center in Newburyport, MA. I will post more if/when I have confirmation.

American Bald Eagles

Common Goldeneyes

Common Loon

Common Mergansers

Great Cormorant in flight

Oh, and this Northern Harrier can be seen all winter, but I'm including it just for the value of its awesomeness:

Friday, February 5

Benefit Concert for Greater Falls Warming Shelter

This benefit concert is for the Greater Falls Warming Shelter. Featured performers include Jesse Peters, Derrik Jordan, Vermont Timbre (Mike Mrowicki & Amelia Struthers) and Julie Waters.

It will take place at Emmanuel Episcopal Church (Stone Church) at 20 Church Street in Bellows Falls, VT. It starts at 8. Admission is by donation.

To me, music is transformative, and concerts like this illustrate that better than anything else I can think of; as musicians, we play, hopefully for money, but often just to be out there and share our craft. There's something about shows like this which push us to think about our music not just in terms of what we can get from it, but what we can give with it as well.

Music is a creative process, but not everyone follows their muse without getting scathed in some form. Some of our most talented musicians have, at some point in their lives, ended up destitute, homeless or otherwise separated from the rest of society. This concert is one small way some of us can honor those among us whose who have fallen from their expected path and who too often fall through the cracks, discarded by the world around them.

Derrik Jordan has released many CDs of his original music as a singer-songwriter and also under the name SuperString Theory. He was recently commissioned to write a piece for the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, "Odzihozo And The Lake," which tells the ancient Abenaki creation story of Lake Champlain in music. It was performed in ten venues around the state in the fall of 2009.

Julie Waters is a folk artist in the truest tradition, weaving stories, motion and rhythm, creating lyrical poetry through the strings of her guitar. This is more than simply a creative approach to music. This is performance which turns on a dime, first evoking ancient modal melodies, and then suddenly sliding into a rock and roll beat which takes you straight into the 21st century.

Vermont Timbre -- the singer-songwriting duo of Amelia Struthers and Mike Mrowicki , will be offering local musical produce as part of the concert to support the Bellows Falls Winter Homeless shelter. The two local performers began singing together in 2004 while working on the album, Love in Kindness. When Amelia was invited to combine her bright and clear voice to harmonize with Mike’s tender vocals, they instantly recognized a spark of musical alchemy.

Jesse Peters blends all his formative experiences into a musical approach that includes many different styles. He is flexible enough to play instrumental dinner music one day and jazz-rock with his trio the next. His writing style is similarly broad, with modern groove numbers interspersed with more traditional fingerpicked tunes, and a few rockers thrown in for good measure. Mixing it up like this keeps it interesting for both him and his audience.

Cosponsors of the shelter include United Church of Bellows Falls, Our Place Drop-in Center, Parks Place, Unitarian Church of Walpole, SEVCA (Southeastern Vt. Community Action), Rockingham Area Community Land Trust (RACLT), Chroma Technology, Youth Services.

If you would like to help advertise this event, please put up posters. The poster can be downloaded here. There is also an open facebook page that people can use to give themselves a reminder of the show or to invite others to attend.