Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Birds Fall, Fish Die, and Questions Abound

There's nothing intelligent I know how to say about the recent mysterious events in which some 5,000 red-winged blackbirds fell from the skies on new year's eve in the small town of Beebe, Arkansas, and in which 85,000 drum fish died nearby in the Arkansas River a few days before that.  I have heard or read no plausible explanation for either event, or for connecting the two--though how not to wonder if they're connected, when they occur in places very close to each other at nearly the same time?

And now we read that four species of bumble bees in the U.S. have declined in population by around 96% in recent years.

And it's hard not to receive news of these events without flirting with an apocalyptic framework of interpretation.  It's hard not to see them as canary-in-the-mine events that portend massive ecological disturbance which will soon affect all of us direly, events due to climate change and other ecological imbalances produced by the late-industrial modern period.  

For now, all I can do is record them in my journal like some early medieval monk on the coast of Ireland noting the sighting of a nearby Viking ship, as he transcribes Marcus Aurelius and scribbles poems about the ephemeral beauty of birdsong in the margins of his manuscript.  What rough beast slouches to Bethlehem to be born in 2011, I wonder?

The graphic for this posting is New York artist Ross Bleckner's "Falling Birds.  I haven't been able to ascertain if using this image on a blog requires his permission.  If anyone has information to guide me here, I'd appreciate it.  Meanwhile, I want to give proper credit for the work and to direct readers to Bleckner's website for further information about his work.

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