Thursday, May 17, 2018

Targeting Disorder

            First we received a message on our local BirdAlert: “A nice show of warblers yesterday evening at Port Oneida: 40-60 palm, 20-30 yellow-rumped, 6-10 black-throated green, 2 blackburnian, 6-8 magnolia, 1 black and white, a couple of redstarts. Also, a pair of green-winged teal, kestrel, merlin, a pair of sandhills, 4 kingbirds and a wood duck.” Kim and I decided it was a good day for birding in Port Oneida.

            Google told us it’s in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – less than an hour from here. Further research told us that Port Oneida contains a number of turn-of-the-century farms (that’s 19th turning into 20th). All the better.

            Our birding was pretty much a bust. We saw no warblers. We may have heard some, but since recognizing bird songs was my commitment to our birding enterprise, we did not recognize any of them. Kim got a shot of a very distant male American Kestrel in bright breeding colors, 

and we saw some White-crowned Sparrows darting through the underbrush, but that, except for some Canada Geese, was about it for birds.

            We almost succumbed to Targeting Disorder. I remember hearing an unorthodox business leader argue that it’s a bad idea to have goals because focusing on goals can limit your achievements and blind you to opportunities you didn’t think of when listing your goals. We went to Port Oneida looking for birds. We didn’t know exactly where to look, so we drove around, looking out our car windows –not the best way to see birds. We passed a few trail heads, but we did not know which ones had the birds, so we, probably foolishly, didn’t hike any of them. Birding was a bust.

            I experience a version of Targeting Disorder almost every day. Yesterday’s version: I was looking for the butter. We keep it on the right side of the third shelf of the pantry, right next to the salt and pepper. Well, I couldn’t find it! Someone, probably me, had put it on the second shelf, maybe 8 inches away from where I was looking. My target was only about 4 inches wide, so I missed it. Kim found it for me.

            We did hike down a long flight of stairs to an isolated Lake Michigan beach. We weren’t at this point, expecting to see any birds – we were mainly eager to get out of the car to stretch our legs and see the lake. (This is where you are expecting me to say we saw these great birds when we were not looking for them, but that’s not what happened. We saw none.) We did find some cool rocks that we brought home to place around our cottage when it is finally finished. We would have brought more, but we would have had to carry them up all those stairs. Our landscaper had said we should have a place where our grandkids could deposit all the rocks they bring up from the lake, but Kim and I know that most of those rocks will be our finds.

            Kim, fortunately, does not suffer from Targeting Disorder. We were driving along this steep road through the woods when she cried out. “Dutchman’s Breeches!” Momentarily confused, I slammed on the brakes – her tone was urgent. She then pointed out the window at a small wildflower by that name, so she got out and snapped some photos, even though she only had her birding lenses. 

Something similar happened with Trilium, though when she shouted I knew that was a flower.

She also photographed Wild Oats, which someone had sown in the woods, and which she could only identify when we got home and could hit the guidebooks.

            While I was scanning the woods and fields for birds – not an easy task while driving – Kim was noticing barns, so she got a few.

Not really a barn, but we like the the Monopoly-house simplicity.
We are not sure if any of them are the barns that make Point Oneida relatively famous – we saw no sign or plaque. But we love barns, even when they are not the target of our outing.

            I remember Keith Taylor, friend of mine, responding to someone’s asking him where he gets his ideas for poems: “Keep a line in the water. You never know what will bite."

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