To burble is to make a bubbling sound but in
English burble and ramble are used interchangeably, “how was the professor
today? Rambling and burbling as usual?” Thus to be a bird burbler is probably
no one’s ambition, but whispering to horses must have some kind of bird
equivalent and I need that to describe this week’s close encounters. It began
with a hummingbird. We are in San Diego. I went into the garden to inspect some
plants I’d put in last time I was down. Since we’re here to help with my
father- in-law, who is not in the best of health, my mind was not distracted by
life’s bustle; we’re taking everything slowly, including looking. So I was
pretty still when a hummingbird brushed by like a waiter saying, “coming
through,” took a full measure of sips from the flower I was admiring and then
The second bird I think was a nighthawk. L differs on this because she didn’t
see the white stripe under its wing, but that mark was clear to me. It was on a
low wire. The bird and the two of us eyed one another from about twelve feet,
agreeing that it was a nice day to be out and about, nodding in neighborly
fashion. As one does.
Later we ran into gardening enthusiasts who told us of a plumeria orchard down
the way. We couldn’t find it, but we did see about an acre which had been
developed like sn amusement park ride with a California gold mining theme, and
a realtor’s sign with a two foot by three foot photo of the red- headed agent.
The sun is so strong some of the street names are bleached out.
The third group of birds we visited at Lake Murray. They were what you’d expect
on and around an urban reservoir: moorhens, ducks, finches, and their ilk. The
point here was not to see something exotic or unusual but to be out of the
house and in the world, breathing and taking in the scene. Quite the effort to
get there, but with oxygen tank and sitting stroller we all made it, and slept
I mused on the naming of things. In Wyoming I once stood on the shore of what
had been whatever the locals first called it. Subsequently a veteran of
Waterloo named it after himself, Sir William Drummond Stewart, and then along
came Major John C. Fremont, who was a bit like Captain Vancouver when it came
to scattering his surname all over. So who was this Murray from whom the waters
took their name? The reservoir started as a commercial operation; he was one
of the early investors. Lots of info on the web about the Florida strain
largemouth bass with which they stock the lake; nothing about the man. Odd
kind of immortality is it not?
Speaking of odd, on the way home we passed a large building devoted to— and I
noted the exact wording of the sign—“cheer and tumbling parties.” No
punctuation to guide understanding.
Field and bumpkin, last rites eats first, some equally weirdly named store has
replaced the chain close to my father- in- law’s house and comparatively
recently because L. used the old name when telling me how to get there. After I
found the distilled water I was free to browse the wine rack, looking for
something to go with steak. My browsing was interrupted by the Coach You Do Not
Want Your Daughters to Have. In his defence I’ll say that three early teens had
made a brazen attempt to sneak soda into a cart with Gatorade and water. And
they were giggly. But he acted like a cross between a marine sergeant and a
portly guy in Baseball pants who has Issues with women. More the latter than
the former. The best I could think to do was interrupt the tirade with what
bubbled to the surface of my consciousness. (You would have done better). All I
could manage was asking him if my shopping cart was in the way. He stopped. It
was enough to bring him to his senses.
Call me the coach whisperer.
La Mesa, California