drunken delights and big news
Yesterday I wrote about the ongoing migration of the American Robin, now occurring in waves here in South Carolina. Today I heard an interesting and amusing little tidbit about the migration that made me laugh — and determine to keep my feeder full to the brim.
The birds going north now are eating the last berries that remain on the bushes and shrubs from last year’s production, and those berries have been through a long, harsh winter, repeatedly freezing and thawing, and over time… fermenting! Yes, that’s right, the food for many berry-munching birds now migrating north is actually a little bit on the alcoholic side.
Apparently if you’re watching closely this time of year, you can view the results in erratic flight patterns, and if you know what you’re looking for, you might notice other tipsy bird behaviors that betray their inebriated state. Seeds from feeders are not only a nice supplement to their diet, but may help to sober up our avian friends on their long journey north. And it is a long journey, as I know from experience, having once undertaken the 21-hour road trip from just south of Atlanta to Montreal.
Of course, I do wonder if the different berries in different locales all have interesting bouquets and the hallmarks of distinct vintages, rather like human wines, which reminds me of a post I did about bee nectar vintages way back during the first week of this blog’s existence, and still one of my favorite posts.
I managed to take a very tipsy-looking bokeh photograph of the last berry on this gorgeous Beautyberry at the Botanical Gardens this week. This winter marks my first introduction to the Beautyberry, and I found their long, slender stems coated in bright purple* berries so riveting in the winter landscape and such a draw for hungry birds, especially friendly Northern Mockingbirds, that I’m determined to put one in my own backyard — if I ever have a backyard, and if it is in the right climate.
(*That “purple” is more of a range or family of colors that changes with exposure and aging of the berries, including, but not limited to, magenta, lavender, mauve, periwinkle, blush pink, and bordeaux.)
And for those of you who have no idea what a bokeh photograph is (I didn’t know the term until a few months ago), this is the best and simplest explanation I’ve found, from The Photographic Glossary: “Bokeh describes the rendition of out-of-focus points of light. Differing amounts of spherical aberration alter how lenses render out-of-focus points of light, and thus their bokeh. The word “bokeh” comes from the Japanese word “boke” (pronounced bo-keh) which literally means fuzziness or dizziness.”
I’ve always loved bokeh photos, but that’s probably because when I remove my glasses or contact lenses, this is the way the world looks via my natural eyesight. I find it particularly enchanting on bright, sunny days, when all the world might as well be made of millions of glistening points of light, all flashing their colors at once. It is a wonderful meditation exercise to stare in this way at a vast landscape or stand beneath a forest canopy looking up at the sky.
But that’s enough about that. Let’s move on to my big news!
Just like the robins, y’all can also begin migrating on over to the new site. I’ve been busy building it, and I think it is more or less ready. That is, the structure is in place, and I can now add or delete or change things as I see fit without unduly disturbing the posting area.
(At least, I hope so. This self-hosted website lark has turned out to be quite radically outside my comfort zone, and since F. was busy with his own research, I’ve had to read up on php.ini files and memory allocation and learn about exporting blog archives and installing plugins all by my little lonesome. Web designers, you now have my unmitigated respect.)
The question over the last ten days had really become, when will I be ready to jump off into the new site? F. was urging me to do so on my blogaversary, but I resisted the suggestion, sure that I needed to tweak quite a few things first. But I soon realized all the tweaking could probably be done once everyone had joined me at the new location, and that I was wasting time trying to double-post every day to keep the archives in sync.
I was ready to announce the leap on Sunday… when Blotanical went down. It was a frustrating moment, but also very educational. A few times while I’ve been working on the new site, I’ve screwed up the functioning pretty badly. That was mostly in the beginning, and I haven’t done so in over a month. Still, similar screw-ups might occur. There are no guarantees.
“What if right after we switched over I found myself in a similar situation as Stuart at Blotanical, and unable to tell my readers what was going on?” was the thought running through my mind. And I don’t do Twitter, as I think we’ve established, so I’d be in even worse straits.
I don’t have any desire to disappear off people’s radar entirely, so I’ve decided after watching the waves of robins passing through yesterday that the best way is to copy nature.
I’ll post in both places for at least a week, and longer if I see the need, and we can all go over bit by bit, in small flocks and waves. That way, if there are any issues at the new site, I still have a way to communicate with everyone at this site, and those people who are occasional readers will be notified over the coming days that the time is coming when I will no longer post here.
Plus, this gradual migration will allow everybody the luxury of plenty of time to change their links and subscriptions at their own pace. And I do hope you will change your links and subscriptions. It is my fond belief that you’re all visiting for the writing and the photographs, and maybe for the relationship, too. None of that is going to change.
For those of you who requested that I keep the large photo format, I have to tell you that it was impossible for me to get what I wanted from a blog theme and still keep the photographs so huge and central to the layout. However, at the new site, if you click on the smaller photos, you will be treated to a full-screen version of the original picture.
I also discovered that keeping the photos rather smaller has made that website quicker to load than this one, which is always a bonus in my busy blog-reading schedule. It’s also much easier to read, from my perspective, which is something else I prefer in the blogs I frequent. But I might have given up a little bit of the bright and colorful flare of this theme design to get it that way.
Probably every single change in the blog format will be like that: something gained, balanced by something lost. And any new detail one of you loves, I can be sure one of you is going to hate. The comments when I asked for feedback illustrated this rather nicely, although certain general principles were repeated often enough that I could use the information when constructing.
Nonetheless, I am exited for you all to see it.
Are you still here?
I feel like Ferris Bueller at the end of the movie, chivvying the audience out of their warm seats. It’s heartwarming that you’re still here, reading until the last sentence, but really I would love it if you’d take a quick look over there. Please, go on and check it out!