Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The birds got confused

Last week my husband and I enjoyed our annual retreat to Starved Rock State Park along the Illinois River near the town of Utica. During the winter on a weekday, the place is deserted and we can walk for miles without seeing anybody. We saw things we hadn't seen before, including LaSalle Canyon, with a semi-frozen waterfall. We could walk under the falling water; the rock area was iced and slippery. Equally awesome in a much different way was the flood covering the parking lot of the visitors center. The Illinois has been swollen by snow melt from our temperatures in the 60s in January. We saw park benches and picnic shelters sitting in the river water. We also didn't see things we usually see, namely, wintering bald eagles. Usually a dozen can be found roosting and fishing along the river. This year we saw one on the wing, disappearing. We asked at the lodge (a handsome building of WPA vintage, a memorial to truly useful public work) about the eagles. The birds got confused by the warm weather, someone told us, and were around, but not always.

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