Thursday, February 17, 2011
I have fallen asleep, snuggled, nearly smothered, under a warm blanket of textbooks, papers, and problem sets. Occasionally, I will stir in my sleep--scan through a flock of waxwings on the way to class, or perhaps even throw my binoculars in my backpack for a quick walk around campus. But then I yawn, rub my eyes, and slide back under the covers. Sometimes, I sleep deeply, engrossed by Plato or phospholipid bilayers. Other times, I toss and turn, tortured by wild fantasies of birds that are beyond reach.
Consciousness has become a rare state for me; if I'm lucky, I feebly stumble from my bed once a week. Lifting my binoculars to my eyes, I flex my atrophied muscles and remember my former freedom from the drowsy fog. But, even these token moments cannot last; the bed calls urgently, and I wearily burrow into the heaps of responsibilities, assignments, duties, and expectations.
On Saturday, after a particularly long spell of dormancy, I wriggled out of my cocoon and journeyed to Grand Haven with my girlfriend Alison. Grand Haven is much like other river mouths in western Michigan--it does, perhaps, offer better than average pier scrambling--but, for the last couple weeks, it has harbored an outcast, a wandering pilgrim of the arctic: a Black-legged Kittiwake.
Twitching--as you may recall, I spend considerable energy bashing it. Well. This was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Indeed, it was--before we had even pulled to a stop, we had spotted the kittiwake sailing lightly above the parking lot.
We spent a lot of time watching that kittiwake. I was wide awake by now. Scoters, goldeneye, Snow Buntings...distant memories of another life, when consciousness was my normal state of being. All too soon, the sun sank. My eyelids sagged; I battled the weariness, but, against my will, I crawled back into bed.