The Real ThingBy
I played hide and seek for several minutes this morning with this dashing male Black-throated Blue Warbler. One look at the picture should tell you who won.
It took me years to see my first “blue.” It’s one of the least common parulids in eastern Nebraska, and I didn’t actually come across one until 1984, on one of so many memorable mornings at Mount Auburn Cemetery.
In the years leading up to that lifer, I’d spent a long time drooling over paintings, photos, and skins of this species. Inevitably, I made unto myself a mental image of the species that somehow just didn’t match the bird when I finally saw it: both, the imagining and the visual reality, were beautiful, but they weren’t the same.
Somehow, in this and I think no other case, I’ve managed to preserve the template of imagination, in spite of having seen the real thing hundreds of times now. Every time I see the bird, there is again that exquisitely enjoyable jolt when expectation shifts to meet experience–it’s like confronting the memory of black walnuts with that first shockingly wonderful taste each October.