Saturday, April 17, 2010

flocks and feathers

"Lessons for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." Mary Oliver

The casita where we are staying in Mexico is nestled in the jungle high above the Pacific Ocean. Upon arriving in the early evening I decided to wait until the next morning to venture down the trail to the beach to greet Grandmother Ocean. However, we were struck, and curious, by the loud cacophony of birds below us on the beach that didn't end until the sun set, and that started up again at sunrise.

As it is my intention to not do a dance blog everyday while here, the next morning we went for our walk without the camera. Being a photographer and practicing butoh is similar in that there are precious moments that occur when interacting and connecting to the environs that are fleeting and if you don't take advantage of that precise moment, they are gone forever - the way the light dances with the trees or the wind dances with you, for example...

I was in disbelief initially to discover the source of the bird raucous - the mile stretch of beach was literally covered with pelicans, frigates, terns, vultures, and another large dark colored bird I am not sure the name of. Never have I seen so many birds en-masse. As we walked the beach the birds would rise and fly around us in a very beautiful, but erratic way - like moths flying around a candle flame.
Although it has been many years since seeing Alfred Hitchcock's movie "The Birds," the memory of the images of the birds who swarmed into a small town and preyed on the town's folks came flooding into mind. Perhaps it is a natural instinct when you are surrounded and outnumbered by so many beings that are screeching wildly that makes you feel a little unsettled? However, regardless of the childhood memories, we were awed and transformed by the beauty...

(Coincidentally, on NPR this morning, Tippi Hedren, best known for her role as the heroine in "The Birds", was interviewed. She is now involved in the protection of big cats in the wild and in captivity and recently received the Humane Society's Genesis Lifetime Achievement Award for her animal-advocacy).

The next day, I decided to take the camera to capture the images of the multitudes of birds, only to discover that the many had become a handful. Unfortunately, this film captures only some of the birds and their behavior, but will give you a taste of their wild-ness, their 'dancing and singing'.

The beach was strewn with many pelican feathers and I couldn't resist a short dance with the frigates swooping into the sea.
A few days later we were talking to a resident of the area who said that after living there for over 15 years he had never seen so many birds for so many days. They had been here for 2 weeks and apparently here due to the huge school of sardines that was close to shore. With our limited perspective we were unaware that this large stretch of birds extended for 30 miles along the coast. As Mother Nature often surprises and amazes, the next day, the birds had vanished, except for the normal sized flocks of pelicans, and frigates in groups of 10 - 50 you see regularly cruising the coastline...

As beautiful as this spectacle was, it of course brought up the question of what is happening in the environment to create such unusual behavior? Is there not enough food elsewhere? Why are there so many sardines close to shore? Has the ocean's temperature affected their behavior? etc etc...

Todays dance practice was one of two - both are dance prayers for the well being of these magnificent birds on the beach, and all the feathered ones everywhere...

There is a film in the black space below:
Music: The Birds and Grandmother Ocean
My short dance filmed by Brooke
Visit my butoh mentor's inspiring blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

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