Wild Parrots by Corinna Bechko

Loud, colorful, smart, and resourceful… What animal is more entwined with tropical daydreams than the parrot? Yet all over the world these birds are becoming common at backyard bird feeders.

Los Angeles, my home, is host to thousands of wild parrots. And their numbers are increasing. Almost daily I see flocks of amazons and conures fly past overhead. Military macaws roost in eucalyptus trees and on deck railings. Where are these birds coming from? Not all, or probably even most, are escapees. These flocks are established and reproducing. Of course, their numbers are added to by escaped birds, and by birds that have so annoyed their owners that they have been set free. Brooklyn, San Francisco, London, and even the Netherlands have established flocks too. Few things are more incongruous than walking down a cobbled lane in Amsterdam and seeing a macaw dart past.

A wild military macaw in Pasadena
But how are these tropical birds surviving? L.A. has very mild winters but its hard to imagine that they enjoy the weather in London. The answer lies in the way humans have changed the landscape. Cities, and even suburbs, have lots of areas that are protected from the elements. Perhaps more importantly, all of these cities are full of plants that are just as exotic as the parrots themselves. Fruit trees, ornamental shrubs, non-native flowers, all of these things make the parrots feel right at home. Another similarity is that most of these cities have man-altered watercourses: rivers and canals that have been tamed and plastered with concrete, creating fly-ways for the birds.

Unlike most introduced species, wild parrots don’t seem to be causing too much environmental havoc. This is partly because they haven’t yet crossed over into the wild lands that ring most cities, and partly because they live almost exclusively off of non-native plants. In other words, the environmental harm has already been done. The parrots are merely the beneficiaries.

Are we going to someday see huge flocks, hundreds of birds strong, wheeling over our cities? I don’t know, but it’s a remote possibility. After all, prior 1904 when the last native North American parrot was killed in Florida, huge flocks of Carolina parakeets were a common sight in the Eastern U.S. So grab a Mai Tai and keep an eye on that bird feeder!

This is from Corinna’s fine blog–www.thefrogbag.blogspot.com

Glass Skulls


I think of Halloween and Day of the Dead as Santa Fe’s true “national” holidays. Altars are springing up everywhere, from the Museum of International Folk Art to the offices of Liberal Arts at SFCC. Last night on the Plaza we saw a juggler standing on a ball of orange and juggling Halloween colors.
I just saw this image of skull goblets by Elodie Holmes, of Liquid Light on Baca Street. She is one of my all time favorite glass artists. These are beautiful and eerie but also traditional–think of drinking ceremonially from a skull!

Lightning Field Haiku

33 years
beneath these poles–
how many rabbit holes?

horizon clearing–
it must have been you I saw
out in the field

telephone poles
the flash-by dreams

was that piece of bone
always here
by the doorjamb?

the same light
comes through the chinks
of the cabin

departure as if that were
news of the world

even the word

I saw your hat
walk away
turn back

The Lightning Field
Walter de Maria, 1977
Dia Art Foundation
400 polished stainless steel poles in a rectangular grid
Near Quemado, New Mexico

Linda Hunsaker

I ran into Linda at jury duty–what a Santa Fe experience–and remembering how much I like her visual work asked her for some images to share.

The one above is :”The Night I Was Born a Raven Saw His Shadow”- this is a linocut inspired by a poem by John Macker

Homage to Hitchcock-this is a monoprint from my series The Picture Show, obviously inspired by Hitchcock’s Vertigo

Rialto-this is another linocut, also from the Picture Show series. I’m researching classic movie theaters. There are many Rialtos, but this particular one is in Arkansas where my father grew up. Maybe he went to this one.

Linda Hunsaker is a resident artist at El Zaguan sponsored by the Historic Santa Fe Foundation in Santa Fe, NM. Her works on paper have been shown nationally and internationally in over 50 group and 4 one-person shows. She has work in Art-in-Public Places in Florida and New Mexico and is a member of the Boston Printmakers and the Los Angeles Society of Printmakers.

Natural Bridge Journal–call for submissions

Deadline: November 1-December 31

University of Missouri–St. Louis MFA Program, seeks fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and translations for a special section on “The Living Earth,” defined in the widest sense. Some possible approaches: rivers and wetlands, migrations of plants/animals/people, human conflict/war, city life.

Send fiction and non-fiction up to 30 pages, and submit one work per envelope. Poets may submit up to five poems per envelope. No electronic submissions. Enclose SASE for notification. We pay in copies and a one year subscription. Simultaneous submissions OK as long as you notify us of acceptance elsewhere.

Natural Bridge, Department of English, University of Missouri–St. Louis, One University Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63121.

Carol Moldaw’s Poem “The Lightning Field”

Of course out in the Lightning Field I was thinking of Carol Moldaw’s marvelous poetic sequence about it.
The first section is below. The entire poem actually imitates, or re-creates, the structure of the field in poetry. It is collected in her book of the same name from Oberlin College Press.

Four hundred equidistant stainless steel poles,
twenty-five by sixteen, gird and grid the mile-long
kilometer-wide field that was once a plain.
Like polished spears, with solid tapered tips,
they rise over twenty feet. Sounding the air,
attuned to the light’s least vibrato,
between dawn and dusk they all but disappear.
It was the hope of lightning drew us here,
and for an hour or so there is lightning–
violet strikes, frequent, sharp, and silent
above the mountains ringing the plain
but the poles do not require lightning, they
are aggregate enough. Would we have walked
so casually into the scrub and desert plain
without the reassurance of these metes
and bounds? Past the first gulch, before we reach
the corner pole, the cabin drops below
our line of sight. Quickly, characterize
and distinguish the mountains to the west from the range
to the east. The north. The south. But we could rely
on the sun, you say before I’ve had a chance
to get my bearings, your profile still so new,
studying not the mountains, but the cloud-
lit sky. Leaving the perimeter, we work
our way in, zigzagging from pole to pole.

–Carol Moldaw

The Lightning Field

The Lightning Field

Last weekend, drove to Quemado, through volcanic malpais. Rich says Quemado seems more remote as a destination than it would if we were just passing through.
The caretaker drives us and two other couples about 45 minutes out into remote feeling range. I sit up front and have one of those satisfying New Mexico conversations about rain, drought, cattle, grass, pinon, and bark beetles. His father ran a gas station in Pie Town and sometimes only one car came by a day. This being New Mexico land art, he was also one of the people who built the Lightning Field and has opinions on Roden Crater. The other folks all hail from southern California.
The Lightning Field itself is like a mirage, coming and going in the light. We walk some of the perimeter first, and sit on dry ground out of the wind. Birds fly up over the grassland. The poles glimmer, shimmer, disappear, re-appear. It is a piece of sculpture really too big to grasp at once: a mile by a kilometer. 400 poles of stainless steel, highly polished. Placed in a rectangular grid by artist Walter de Maria in 1977.It seems more than the sum of its parts–poles evenly spaced stretching away as far as the eye can see.
I am totally charmed, but Rich has doubts. “When is a work of art too much trouble?” he asks.
Because of its simplicity, scale, and pattern, the field brings metaphor to mind. A shaman’s pole, like the one in the Old Kalevala, connecting heaven and earth, as indeed does a lightning rod. Jacob’s ladder. With the angels going both up and down.
Dinner is an excellent green chile cheese enchilada casserole, tortillas, beans, and flan–all left in the refrigerator. I add a green salad. The moon comes up with spectacular precision, although you really can’t see the poles in moonlight.
Get up at dawn and walk in the field. Pink in the east but cloudy. Here the illusion of the field overtakes me. Turning to look at the cabin I see it is actually IN the field rather than at the edge. But as I get closer the illusion fades and I no longer see poles reaching beyond the house.
This coming and going of things makes me feel I’ve solved my zen koan. Rich, howebe, is more dubious about it all. He has been roaming around in his usual energetic manner but he says: I can’t help but wonder if this is the best artistic use of the site.
We’re both thinking of the VLA’s radiotelescopes. There is a windmill behind the house, and we’re thinking of fields of windmills.