they did not know, could not know, really, that i would never harm them. more than a casual observer am i, yes, but my instrusiveness is ever incidental. they’d have flown away eventually, i know, but i was nonetheless sad to see them go. of course, had they been perched upon the stalks of prairie grass, as they were when i first found them, they’d not been quite as picturesque. but their numbers somehow exploded when i came near, for the ones that i had seen at first were less than what was there.
the prairie is a profoundly remarkable place, full of things you’d never expect, and fuller still of that resolute beauty: the kind that really only speaks to you after the birds have flown away and left the grasses empty for a time.
were i still welcome in the places where i took these walkabouts so many years ago, i’d walk about them differently. i would follow the birds this time as they move from place to place, so that the journey would be constantly filled with the liveliness of their voices and the profundity of their absence, with every step, with every breath, with every glance, and every moment.