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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Audubon 6th graders

American Kestrel
In the spring of 1995, Mr. Hunt took his class on a field trip to the shores of the Utah Lake.There, two scores of prepubescent ornithologists set out with  plastic lens binoculars and a checklist to solidify their unit on birds.

Common Loon... check!
Western Meadowlark... check!
Ooooh, a Marsh Wren... check!
Western Grebe... check!
Mallard... check check!
Cinnamon teal... check!
American Coot... check check check check. Yes, Taylor, we've got that one, check!

I remember seeing a fox and pheasants away from the marsh in the fields. I really got into it. It coincided by chance with a scouting project that took our troop back to the same place for the same reason. I'm not sure why, but the universe deemed it necessary to pound the study of Western North American birds into my young brain, and the best place for that was my lovely Utah Lake. I have one more memory from Mr. Hunt's bird watching adventure though. It came not on the shores of the lake but after the yellow bluebird bus took us back to Vineyard Elementary. I never saw anything like this before or since, and it was eerie that it happened on the day of our birding field trip, but I saw on the sidewalk path leading up to our classroom, a small hawk, lying on the cement and heaving rapidly. Mr. Hunt carried the wounded raptor into the room and cleared off the old table where he kept the teacher editions of our textbooks. He did what he could to save the bird but it had crashed to fiercely into the glass and soon died. It was an American Kestrel. Teary eyed girls and and somber looking boys, reluctantly checked one last box from their list and we gave the noble bird a funeral.

When the Lunar Island comes to fruition, the bridge that leads to it, the ferries that will surround it, and all that comes in and out will be made to maintain the beauty of the Lake, and we will, in memory of my friend the Kestrel, relentlessly defend against rodents as well as attaching those goofy stigmatized bird stickers on glass and highly reflective surfaces. I love birds. Like little dinosaurs flying around, their proud brows and piercing eyes... my friends on the lake.

I am finishing up a class right now in the David O. McKay education building at UVU, which as I have mentioned before, was converted from my old Vineyard Elementary. This particular class is actually held in my old 6th grade classroom, and I sit where the teacher edition table used be. That little Kestrel's been on my mind...

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