Monday, January 19, 2009

Free and easy

Yesterday afternoon I looked up and in the skies above my house were over 80 vultures, wheeling and gliding in the wind in a tall rolling tube reaching hundreds of feet into the air.

Even in the dead of winter, socked in and no sun in sight, they soared in one of their vast dances in the air.
I don't know why they come to this area so often. Frankfort is in a river valley so maybe it's the updrafts and wind currents generated by the cliffs along the river, which is near my house. Maybe it's just some kind of social event. Maybe it's the legislature being in town. Who knows?
Whatever the reason for these amazing gatherings, I like watching them. Such huge birds with such long wings, making the whole act of flight seem so completely care-free and effortless. They move in circles first vast and then narrowing and closing in, moving up and down at will, changing altitudes with just a tilt and the flick of a wing-tip.
It appears that the large gatherings are different flocks or groups getting together for some kind of buzzard fly-in, since they finally split off into smaller groups and head out in different directions.
They may be ugly when they're on the ground, greasy and neck-deep in a deer carcass, but in flight they're glorious. In the spring when it's not so damn cold I lie in the grass and watch them for an hour or more at a time. In the winter, when the air is so silent from the chill and my heart is often as gray as the day, they lift my spirits.

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