Book Excerpt: Welcoming the Red-Winged Blackbirds

Mother Nature never ceases to astound.

Four weeks after my frigid hot tenting excursion and the red-winged blackbirds have returned to Algonquin Park. The familiar sound of konk-ke-ree blares from the lowlands, from reeds whose roots are still separated from shaft by a thin layer of ice.

These early harbingers of spring are of course right on time.

The tundra swans preceded their arrival, resting briefly before finishing the last leg of their trek to their Arctic breeding grounds. It is the return of the blackbirds though, their noisy chattering and their aggressive protection of territory – I almost lost a ballcap on my way to a morning paddle – that reminds me it is time to start celebrating the sunshine at 7pm, to prepare for the upcoming guiding season by booking recertification courses and sorting out dates and canoe routes. It’s time to put away the snowpants and snowshoes. And it’s time to rearrange the furniture and purge my closets of items I have used in a while – so long maxi dress!

I haven’t always heralded the red-winged blackbirds’ return.

As a child I noticed the crocuses in Mom’s flower beds before I heard the birds calling.

As a college student, I failed to notice the natural world’s signs of spring. March brought daily double sessions of rowing on the Savannah River for March break and mid-term exams when we returned to Boston. I was partway through a switch from a Math degree to a Finance degree, forgoing one set of terminology for another. Good bye partial derivatives, double and triple integrals. Hello return on investment, internal rate of return, and weighted average cost of capital.

As an adult I marked the passing of seasons with a change in footwear: my trusty Aldo boots kept me trendy through snow and slush until I could break out my Nine West pumps…

I’m writing a career change memoir and I’d love your feedback as I post small ~300 word blurbs. What do you want to know more about? What works for you? What doesn’t work for you? Comment below or e-mail me.

Photo Credit: Johnathan Nightingale (Flickr)

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