Not the Usual Suspects

As summer fades and fall moves in, the visitors to the tree outside my window are not the usual suspects. Not the usual summer suspects, that is. My visitors these days are the migrating visitors – the ones we see in the spring and in the fall, but rarely during the summer. There is the White-Crowned Sparrow, a handsome little guy.

And another sparrow – I think. I have not identified this one, although if I were to look in my bird app, I probably could find out who he is.

I looked in my app – research inconclusive. Possibly – very slight possibility – it’s an American Pipit. Or a juvenile White-Crowned Sparrow. I’m leaning to the sparrow. In any case, I liked how he stood tall and proud, feathers unruffled.

My feathers are slightly ruffled – but in a good way. In just two days I shall leave the warmth and comfort of my home and head east. All the way across the country east. To the Northeast. To the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State. I am excited because I am going to visit a very good friend who has been my friend for approaching 50 years. I have not seen her since 2006, and much has changed in our lives since then. My head is spinning, planning and plotting and wondering if I have remembered everything I must remember. I have paper confirmations of my travel plans as well as digital confirmations. I cannot quite seem to get away from that paper thing.

There is this little guy – another unidentified – who is busy preening and smoothing feathers. I have been busy with the human version of preening and smoothing, deciding what clothing to take, packing. Adjusting what I have packed. Planning what comfortable knit clothes I shall wear to travel – nothing restrictive, the important thing here is clothing that gives, that will move with my body, that will not squeeze in any area during the hours spent in a not-big-enough airplane seat.

The clothing dilemma is mainly me trying to outwit Mother Nature. Yeah, good chance of that, right? Do I take the warmth of fleece – ah, but fleece is so bulky, I say. Probably not necessary just yet this time of year. The temperatures will be much as they are here at home. I think it will be layers, camisoles with long-sleeved but lightweight shirts. And a vest or two. Neutral colors, of course.

While I am in the east in the valley of the Hudson, I shall take a day to visit family – a former sister-in-law, a niece and the children and grandchild of that niece. Those I have not seen for so many years – perhaps 40 years or thereabouts? This is one of the good parts of Facebook, where my niece found me. I was thrilled when she found me, I am thrilled that I will get to see them again – no longer the little girl with her mother that I remember, but as an adult – a mom, a grandmother – her mother as a grandmother and great-grandmother. This trip has so much promise, and I am so happy to be making it.

Preening done for the moment, a better view of this little fellow.

I think this one is a House Wren. Waite’s Birds says that’s what it could be. I’m going with that.

My thoughts are bouncing back and forth, up and down, all around. Can you tell? My words are not really related to the photos, but that’s okay, really it is. I think nothing more can be expected from me now. I think until I am aboard the train that will take me to the big city miles north, where I will spend the night and board the plane the following morning, I think my thoughts will lack cohesion. I will check my suitcase, again. And again. I will check my lists – the ones that tell me things I should not forget to put in my suitcase, or my carry-on, or what I must remember to do yesterday, today and tomorrow – those lists. I will check them frequently. I will cross things off, I will add things. I will rethink my choices. Because you know what I realized yesterday? This will be the first trip I have made entirely on my own, with no one beside me, for about 20 years. That’s a very long time.

So I sit and stare out my window at those visitors who are not the usual suspects, but are welcome still. And always when there is a rule, there is an exception, so while most of my visitors are not the usual suspects, there is one who is a constant, who is not a visitor because he is here all year long. Squawking, complaining, rarely – if ever – singing songs of joy or beauty. But still, he has his own beauty, more readily enjoyed when he keeps his beak closed and silent. He is the Stellar Jay.

Now I must leave you for this moment. I must go check that suitcase, those lists. I must see what I must do today so that I will be ready to leave Tuesday morning. Early. To catch the train that will take me to the big city to the north. Where I will catch the plane that will take me to my friends in the east, those who are not the usual suspects that I visit. Another example of enough, you see?

About Carol

I'm me - nothing unusual, just me. Widowed, 2 grown children who are my best friends, 1 dog, retired, loving being retired. I am woman, I am strong.
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9 Responses to Not the Usual Suspects

  1. Kathy says:

    Carol, I hope you have a most wonderful time. What a fun trip! P.S. I love posts that bounce around and where the pictures don’t have to anything to do with what you’re sharing. 🙂


  2. I love the migrating birds that come through once a year. In the Hudson valley, make sure to look for the Cedar Waxwing. They are rusty breasted birds that love to find trees with berries, often travelling in flocks. The color is just beginning to come into the trees here, but depending on elevation you may have good luck. A fleece might not be a bad idea if you plan to be out in the evening. Don’t worry about travelling alone. I did that 2 years ago and all the old instincts kicked back in.By the time I did it a second time a year later, I felt like a pro. Have a great time!


  3. A lot of unusual suspects, Carol, but that’s the beauty of an adventure. It will be great to reconnect with old friends and family who you haven’t seen in a long time. It is nerve-wracking preparing for travel; I always get very nervous and even sick sometimes, but once I’m on that plane to my final destination, I can finally relax. I’m sure it will be a great trip, especially since you’ll be in the northeast during autumn, a most beautiful time to be in a stunning technicolor place. Have a great trip and enjoy your feathery unusual suspects before you go. 🙂


  4. Heather says:

    I am sure everything will go as it should, and that you’ll have a great trip. I hope the weather holds and that you have lovely fall color to enjoy with your friend.
    Say hello to your birds for me 😉


  5. pattisj says:

    I always look forward to new visitors during migration.


  6. Carol — I know you’re going to have a complete and total blast, and I’m counting on you sharing loads of photographs of your wonderful adventure with us — your readers!”


  7. suzicate says:

    Carol, you always take the most wonderful pictures. I’m just loving your new kids on the block!


  8. Robin says:

    Wishing you traveling mercies, Carol. I thoroughly enjoyed the way you bounced around in this post, and your birds are beautiful. 🙂


  9. lisa says:

    You captured some fantastic feathered friend shots! I love the detail in the first photo. We’re saying goodbye to the hummers and butterflies here and preparing for cooler temps. Today, those temps are being literally blown in with 30 mph winds!!


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