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Thursday December 11, 2003, 02:08

It's the kind of windy outside that feels like it should be accompanied by a driving, sideways rain. The windows whistle and rattle when it starts to get windy like this and the front door shakes as the pressure in the apartment shifts. When I open the window, the whistling and rattling stop, and I realize that there's really nothing more than a swift breeze, and it's not raining, and it's about twenty degrees warmer than it was less than a week ago, when the entire city was covered in snow.

Winter is here, but winter is confused. Given the summer we had, this is hardly a momentous realization. Summers in the city are supposed to be sweltering. The subways aren't supposed to have the air conditioning running and everyone should be complaining about the heat and the humidity. People are supposed to be brought together through sheer discomfort. But the city was anything but ugly this summer. The few days that actually felt like summer were welcomed for that very reason, and the rest of the time we were either coming right out of winter or heading back into fall.

Taking advantage of the climate, a half-dozen mourning doves landed outside the living room yesterday morning. Perched just outside, facing away from the apartment and out towards the rest of the city (and either adventure or food; I could never tell which), were six grey birds, sitting. As stealthily as I could, I inched through the apartment, grabbed my my camera, took a meter reading and raised the lens towards the window. I looked through the viewfinder just in time to see a flutter of wings and feathers falling off the edge of the building and gliding towards the next perch. I had been so careful too. I had been working and when I turned around and saw six balls of grey just sitting there and I just had to capture it. Unfortunately, it seems that these particular birds are sensitive to movement.

Undeterred, I left the camera case open and the camera metered. And sure enough, a couple of hours later, the birds reappeared. I inched over towards the window again and the floor creaked. Now, I'm not sure how the birds could have heard the creaking floor through the window, and how they knew that it was coming from me, but those birds shot away faster than I could raise the camera and I was once more left without a shot. They appear to be sensitive to sound as well.

As luck would have it, my feathered friends stopped by one third time on their flight of fancy around the Village, and so I, with camera already in hand, silently leaned forward, ever so slowly, inching towards the glass, camera up at my face, closer and closer and closer to remove the window's edge from the frame and finally got off one or two shots before the birds were onto me and decided to fly the coop, so to speak. Having served their responsibilities as (uncooperative) subjects for the day, I didn't see them again.

It's really too bad about the birds though. They'll be back, for sure, but yesterday I was having such an ass day that it would have been nice to have some living, breathing creatures sitting just outside my window, eating and cooing, with nary a care in the world. It would be nice to have them sitting there, reminding me that there is so much more to the world that what I find within these four walls and that as long as am willing to explore, there is a world (by definition) of possibilities just waiting for me. As it was, however, the birds left and I was left holding the camera. Note to self for future wallowing days: do not choose such days to bestow upon wild animals the responsibility of cheering me up by simply sitting still as it will not work.

There are no birds outside my window right now. I think that the wind has driven them home. I can only hope that tomorrow, when I wake up and stagger over to watch the rest of the world do the same, that I will be greeted by my friends again, letting me know that everything is going to be a-ok.

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