It was the scarlet
tanager that set off
the author’s insanity.
Service, I found myself in North America, a
place teeming most of the year with colorful
neotropical songbirds such as the scarlet
tanager. And still I didn’t look. I lived in New
York City, and no one would mistake such a
heaving, concrete-addled metropolis for a
place filled with avian beauty, would they?
(But they should. It is.) One day at the start
of the new century, two friends named Don
and Donna Graffiti stayed a weekend with
me in northeastern Pennsylvania, where to
escape the heaving and concrete addling,
my wife and I had acquired a house and
some land and the aforementioned chaise.
Sneaky tricksters that the Graffitis are, they
just so happened to bring a spare pair of
binoculars with them on their visit, and lo
and behold, I was welcome to use them on
our walk across the countryside. “Only if
you feel like it,” they said. “No pressure.”
Honestly, I would rather have gargled
with hat pins than look at birds, knowing as
I did that halitosis was just a blue jay away.