The weekly report from the world’s birdwatching capital… by Seymore Thanu
I have a MAGIC LOOK-THROUGH THING.
You say, “Pray what is that?”
It makes everything look bigger. Unless you are looking through the wrong end, and then everything looks smaller.
“Oh,” you say, “you mean binoculars!”
No, no, no. A binocular is just a tool. A device. Something you take to the football game because you’ve got seats in the nosebleed section. Any peasant can own binoculars (particularly since China got into the game and started cranking out superlative instruments at rock bottom prices).
Again, no. I’m talking about A MAGIC LOOK-THROUGH THING. A magical tunnel that confers supernatural intimacy with super natural things. Birds, butterflies, porpoise, pollinating honeybees, your own wiggling toes.
“Sounds a lot like binoculars,” you say.
All right. I admit it. The MAGIC LOOK-THROUGH THING does bear superficial kinship with a binocular. It’s sort of the larval form. A semi-demi-proto-MAGIC LOOK-THROUGH THING.
The magic happens when you raise it to your eyes. This fusion of human and glass causes a magical transformation. It will never be a mere binocular again. You will never see the world the same old way again.
I’m not joking. I’m not making this up. You bring binoculars up to your eyes. Train them on a cardinal or monarch or a ghost crab and the image just plain blows you back to a brainstem.
You fall back to a time when you were lying on your back, staring up at a bunch of dangling, multicolored cutouts (called a mobile) that an adult stuck over your crib.
You were trying to make visual sense of a mind-blowing world. Trying to come to grips with light, color, motion, shape and distance (not to mention sound, smell, and that uncomfortable situation in your diaper).
And you did. Over time, you put the whole universe into a nice, sensible, intelligible package. That was precisely the moment all the magic went out of the world. Precisely the moment life on earth got boring and predictable.
You’ve been living in this predictable and boring world ever since. You’ve become trapped by physical reality and sensory stagnation. You have lost your sense of WOW.
Sad truth. But not an irrevocable truth. Because with the MAGIC LOOK-THROUGH THING you can shed your preconceptions and unwrap a bright, new wondrous world.
One in which the golden pollen on the legs of honeybees becomes a feast for your eyes. One in which your intimacy with another living thing (like a cardinal) seems like organic fusion. Ever see your reflection in the eye of a cardinal? Whew. Mere words can’t even describe it – even my words.
There you have it. An end to sensory stagnation syndrome and the beginning of a new age of discovery and wonder.
Step One: Go down to the Cape May Bird Observatory and ask to take a look through any one of their numerous semi-demi-proto-MAGIC LOOK-THROUGH THINGS.
Step Two: Bring them to your eyes and take a look.
Step Three: Feel the magic.
WOW. Search the whole world over. Ain’t nothing beats WOW. Ask any crib-bound toddler. They’ll tell you the same thing. Might want to change that diaper first, though.
Once you decide to buy your own MAGIC LOOK–THROUGH THING, you’ll want to put it to good use. You can do so on any of the weekly Cape May Bird Observatory sponsored walks (every day but Sunday and Tuesday through July). While you are at the Cape May Bird Observatory, THE place for anything to do with nature, pick up a copy of The Kestrel Express for our full schedule of walks and boat trips.
The CMBO (609-884-2736) is located at 701 East Lake Drive overlooking lovely Lake Lily in Cape May Point and is open 9:30am to 4:30pm daily. Our staff and volunteers are always glad to help with anything you need. Check out the the latest in books, bird feeders, and some great new and fun merchandise – including our exclusive CMBO logo jewelry, clothing, totes, and more. Take a look at the sightings log or our website to check what’s being seen, pick up a bargain from the used and vintage books section, look at some of the wonderful Charley Harper merchandise, or just browse. If you aren’t fortunate enough to be in the area, visit us online at www.BirdCapeMay.org – where birding Cape May is only a click away.
Seymore Thanu is New Jersey’s own Pete Dunne, Director of the Cape May Bird Observatory and Vice President of Natural History for New Jersey Audubon Society. Author of several books on and about nature (available at Cape May Bird Observatory), he has written for virtually every birding publication and for The New York Times.