Monday, October 6, 2008

Millions of Grackles

Dinner tonight in Houston with two visiting writers, Ann Patchett and Anne Enright. We were in a weirdly deracinated part of downtown; somehow even though there's a movie theater and a bunch of concert venues right around there, it feels like a kind of office park, an oddly uninhabited place. We had a quick, enjoyable time, and then it was time to head off to the reading, so we walked out of the restaurant onto the steps above the street, and the air was absolutely alive with grackles, thousands of them, and very likely tens of thousands, swooping and folding in the air in great arcs,filling all of the sky in front of us, turning up and over the office buildings. It was just extraordinary; when do you see a species as crowded and social and in motion as our own -- especially filling the sky! On our walk over, they were lined up on ledges and the rims of roof. By the time I left the reading, they had settled into the trees -- was all that swirling and folding a prelude to the evening? Certainly no one in that tree was going to get any sleep; it was a rhapsodic, enormous, ceaseless, gorgeous racket. I just stood under a tree (slightly risky position) and let myself disappear into it.

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