Monday, December 19, 2011

In Hovering Flight By Joyce Hinnefeld

Lets us say, only hypothetically, that you are not into historical fiction and would rather read something else. I have just the book for you. This is it my friends, it is bird fiction:-)

I'd grown up reading about the foibles of the great Indian ornithologist Salim Ali. I should say that some of the inspiration in watching birds that flitted around our farmland came from these readings. The rest of course was from the inexplicable tie that bound me to the fertile green land itself. The other day my Mom was telling me about two "bhoomikulukki" (wagtail) birds that visit our front yard (muttam)  everyday and how she thinks of it as a visit from me to her... My Mom loves watching birds which is second only to planting stuff and making things grow. I cannot grow a thing if I tried but I love them birdies just like my Mom. My daughter too enjoys watching the many birds that visit our backyard thanks to our neighbors who are great gardeners.

That this book came with Ursula Hegi's recommendation is what made me pick it up in the first place. A few pages into all that the book was unraveling and I just couldn't put it down. Be forewarned that you may not like it of you don't like birds since the book is sprinkled all over with bird watching facts and fiction. It revolves around Addie, Tom and their daughter Scarlet who was named after the Scarlet Tanager. It also includes John James Audubon's depiction of the cuvier's kinglet which no one has really seen except for Audubon and his illustrations. That was, until Adie's claimed to have seen it. At the end of the novel one is not sure if Adie has seen it or not but it truly does not matter. If Adie and Tom's passion for nature is not enough, then the bare truths of their familial existence and how it binds with their love of nature will keep you rooted in this on-the-way-to-be-a classic book.  I find a strage reluctance to discuss their story here, it is almost as if it is personal and must be read in peace and quite. Adies's love of birds takes the form of activism while Tom's is the balancing act of the quiet yet unstinting support. Joyce Hinnefeld is to be read and absorbed, period.

The romantic and doting pair in the above pic set up home in the palm tree behind our house and it was a pleasure to have them around. And no, it is not the camera but the setting sun that provided the flash! Heading into the holidays I hope everyone will have a Very Merry Christmas and a jolly good time!