Saturday, August 13, 2022

Where Buzzards Roosted in Trees

A buzzard painting by my dad
A buzzard painting by my dad.
Seemingly, my dad and I had little in common. He wasn’t a parent who spent one-on-one time with his children, but he worked hard at hard jobs providing for his family and keeping our home place in good order. Rarely did I see my dad doing nothing or sitting still for long periods. He wasn't that kind of person. His key interests included exploring the countryside, oil painting, woodcarving and writing. His cousin labeled my dad an Indiana Jones type. I agreed.


A couple of things Dad and I did have in common included writing stories and a fondness for the turkey buzzard (or turkey vulture). I can’t help but admire this odd-looking, amazing bird. I appreciate the nasty but crucial job they do.

When I bought my 35mm camera in the 1970s, my dad told me about a bluff with a possible photographing opportunity, where buzzards roosted in the trees that grew along the steep cliffs. When the sun rose, the buzzards would awaken, stretch to dry and warm their wings before lifting from the trees to do their day job as Nature’s Biohazard Carrion Cleaner-Uppers. They ate decaying animals! 

One early morning, before light, we traveled down a gravel road, a driveway and then into a pasture heading for a cliff. We parked near our destination and waited for daylight by listening to the noisy and wonderful predawn fauna. A glow, in the eastern sky, became our signal, and we headed for the edge of the bluff to get ready. When daylight allowed us to see the buzzards in their morning routine, there were none. The trees that seemed to grow out of jagged rock stood—empty. There was no awakening. No stretching of black wings readying for lift off. No red heads to photograph. And there were no noisy pounding wings beating the air to fly from the cliffs in search of breakfast.

Although disappointment filled me, my dad seldom lingered in disappointment. He said we’d try again another day. My photography opt now changed. I took pictures from the bluff’s edge, but also sidled down the sloped cliffside by clinging on to saplings along the way while capturing images of fields and water in a valley below.  

Bookends carved by Dad.
We went back to my parents’ house with that promise to do it again, but we never did.

I’ll insert those pictures with this post… when I find them. 



Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Teresa - lovely memories ... sad too - as you never had that much time with your Dad - yet he influenced you a great deal. The painting is lovely - while those bookends are just beautiful ... and I'm so pleased you've got them and are using them. He was a talented creative man ...

Wonderful to read - thank you - Hilary

Elephant's Child said...

Precious memories. How I love those bookends. And the painting. Your father was a very talented man.

Leigh said...

Your dad sounds like an interesting person. It's too bad it didn't work out for another try at the buzzard photos. Our turkeys look quite like their buzzard cousins.