Under the Vulture Tree

(I know I’m getting a little obsessive about these birds these days…)

A couple of weeks ago, a Wednesday morning, skies grey, temperatures in the mid-40s. I am taking my morning run in Wildwood Park a little later than usual. On all my runs, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing them soaring overhead in groups so large the sky is sometimes a swirling sea of black wings. They’ve become a comforting sight, somehow. I approach the bird-watching platform and realize that there are hundreds of black vultures all perched together in a cluster of oak trees. I pause the music and walk down to the platform, and suddenly, I am standing beneath them all. To my surprise, none of them move, none seem to acknowledge my presence. I’ve seen turkey vultures up close like this, but never the blacks. They are literally right above my head and I spend a good ten minutes or so watching them. And then, without warning, a couple spread their wings and leave – I wonder what reasons motivate them – and all the rest follow.

By now it’s clear that there’s more thinking, and probably writing, real writing, to be done with the vultures. Some larger metaphor in this that I need to meditate on more closely. In all my researching, some of the most interesting details I’ve learned: to the ancient Egyptians, vultures were deities, emblems of motherhood, giving life and then later taking it back, and to Mayans they also represented fertility. I meditate further. And wait until the next time.


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