Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A pathetic but inevitable development

"The Pulitzer Fountain is a wide structure, with water basins climbing six levels, and a bronze sculpture on top. In the summer, water spouts from the mouths of carved heads into the uppermost basin, which stands high above the rest. The water then flows from level to level over the edges of the basins and through open spouts, some simple, and some large and elaborate."

Note the three ominous words that begin the second sentence of the quote above. Well, summer ended almost two months ago and the fountain has been plashing merrily from the mouth of the dolphin below the beautiful Pomona to the six tiers below. There it has served as a place to bathe and drink before bedtime for the huge flocks of birds that arrive every evening to roost in the trees behind the fountain.

Today it plashed no more. Off for the winter.

Well, I thought, it happens in nature: water holes dry up, creeks go underground, vanish for months at a time. Surely birds are genetically programmed to deal with a food or water-source coming to an end. Still I felt a pang as I watched the stream of grackles arriving from the park at their usual pre-sunset time and landing, as usual, at the rims of the top tiers of the fountain, ready for their daily bath and pre-sleep drink. Luckily [for my mental well-being, at least] it was raining gently as the birds arrived. I imagined they could simply shake and preen and sip in the wet branches of their roost tree.

But I wonder if they'll be there tomorrow...

Maybe the time has come for them to take off for their nice winter roost somewhere south of here, perhaps in North Carolina, where some 50,000 grackles will gather together in a grove of evergreens and drive the local farmers to despair.