Signs summer is just about over
Outside the window, on a rock where the narrows enter the saltwater pond, there are six shags. Cormorants they call them in the bird books. They are standing erect, their necks stretched upward looking like a stylish grouping of elegant vases, something you might see in an expensive furniture store on Stavanger Drive in St. John’s.
There have been more cormorants than usual this season. They cruise the water of the harbour in search of food. Gliding across the surface, their dark silhouette is tied with the loon as the most elegant of all the water birds. It’s a wonder we didn’t name our currency after the cormorant. Though on second thought, it might not have been good for business. Consumers, seeing the price of something or other in a retail store, might respond with the tried and true, “Couldn’t give a shag b’y!”
Sales would plummet. Stock markets would crash and the economy would spiral into a tailspin.
No, it’s a good thing we chose to name our currency for a bird whose name is synonymous with insanity. Much more solid choice. That’s what they have focus groups for.
Looking through the binoculars, I can see that two of the pitch black birds have light beige breasts; they are this year’s fledglings, about to embark on their first migration south. Shagging off out of it.
School buses. The surest sign that summer is just about over.
Because it’s that time again. Our shortest of summers is drawing to a close. Nature’s signals are beginning to appear: shorter days and more easterlies. Then there are the manmade events on the calendar. The regatta is over on Quidi Vidi pond and it’s time to pull out the long johns. School will be starting in days.
Some of the birds we are used to seeing around our house in Salvage won’t be making the journey south. Unlike most years there were very few of our favourite neighbours, the spotted sandpipers, around this year. On our beach, where there are often parades of infant birds, typically four youngsters to a nest and sometimes as many as three broods, totaling maybe a dozen in a productive year, this year we saw only two little ones.
Then one, then none.