The pale cover of her bird notebook was laced with a network of wrinkles from sharing space in her purse with a buckled wallet. A red bookmark skimmed between the pages in a spot she didn't intend to mark. She'd kept track of all the birds she'd seen in her lifetime since she was eleven. This was one of many of her travel notebooks, and every year on New Year's Eve while everyone else was toasting and kissing, she was transferring bird names into the lifetime list she kept in a hardcover journal. The barometer of her year was not how many birds she'd spotted, but which varieties. In 2007 she spotted two cactus wrens in Tuscon, and added a common nighthawk, Chordeiles minor, too, when she'd nearly tripped over it during an evening walk. It looked a lot like bark, and blended in well, perhaps too well, with its surroundings. Next year, she was sure, would be the best. A trip to Uzbekistan promised the Blue-Cheeked Bee-eating Hawk, larks, Clamorous Reed Warblers. This year felt like an abbreviation of her twelfth year. She'd not strayed far from home. Her list was a series of brown finchy burns across a suburban sky when what she wanted was wonder and importance, a riot of colors.
Sketch #4 in the Visitor's Book at an Art Gallery Series. The titles of the sketches are the notes left by the visitors.