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  • Writer's pictureSandy Obodzinski

A Life of Details

In Clint Eastwood's 1995 film "The Bridges of Madison County," Meryl Streep's character Francesca plays an Iowa housewife and Italian immigrant who still carries the accent of her home country.

I've always loved this movie, in part because I think it captures the Midwest and Iowa so viscerally. Fields there brim with Red-Winged Blackbirds and you can hear them in the film. Eastwood's character ponders about the "loam of the soil", its earthiness, and that's so true of Iowa. The air is different too. Maybe it's the lilacs, the dryness of early summer, or the eerie calm as a storm approaches. Having spent 34 years of my life in the Midwest, its sights and sounds will always conjure a feeling of home.

Late in the film, Francesca tries to explain her decision to stay with her family saying that a woman builds "a life of details." With her Italian accent, she emphasizes the second syllable of details - dəˈtāls. It sounds better to say it that way. Try it.

What struck me this week, without even having watched the film again, was that line.

A life of details.

Hearing it in my mind felt like an invitation to notice...

  • Mourning Doves blink as often as we do, it seems

  • Groundhogs run very fast

  • Rose Breasted Grosbeaks have no qualms sitting in the feeder for five to ten minutes replenishing after a long migration

  • 90 minutes pass quickly while trying to identify a new bird (Palm Warbler)

  • A Black Vulture growling sounds like the greeting at Hell's front door

  • The wee-little Carolina Chickadee defends her eggs as fiercely as the Black Vulture, but she huffs and puffs instead of growls and hisses

  • Oakleaf shoots pulled from the garden still have the acorn attached to the stem

  • Woodpeckers laugh a lot, or so it sounds

  • It's comforting to hear the eager chirps of hungry baby bluebirds every time a parent visits the nest

  • It's even more special when those visits happen while I'm just feet away

  • Birds don't know self-doubt -- each is quite comfortable in its own feathers

  • Pulling weeds is a metaphor for everything

  • The White Breasted Nuthatch announces my presence with such urgence when I venture out to fill the feeders each morning -- bee-bee-beep, bee-bee-beep, bee-bee-beep

  • A Downy Woodpecker will sit in one place for minutes while preening after his bath

  • Capturing these moments in photos is a thrill

Birds in this video, in order of appearance:

  • White Breasted Nuthatch

  • Cardinal (Female)

  • Black Vulture

  • Rose Breasted Grosbeak (F/M)

  • Cardinal (F/Male)

  • Indigo Bunting

  • American Goldfinch (M/F)

  • Mourning Dove

  • Chipping Sparrow

  • Tufted Titmouse

  • More Eastern Bluebirds

  • Palm Warbler (M)

  • American Goldfinch

  • House Finch

  • Eastern Bluebirds because who can get enough of them

  • Red Headed Woodpecker (M)

  • Downy Woodpecker (M)

  • White Breasted Nuthatch

  • Red Bellied Woodpecker (M)

Thank you so much for reading and watching!

I hope you enjoyed!


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