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FIRECRACKERS AND SONGBIRDS

Lately the dark has been interesting. The firecrackers start around sunset and go on well into the night, often past midnight, little sporadic pop-pop-pops interposed by the occasionalwhoof, like artillery. It’s low-level annoying but it’s also a privilege to indulge in low-level annoyance in times such as these.



There are a couple hours of quiet.


Well before daybreak, even before civil or nautical dawn, for reasons known only to the avian soul, the birds begin. Here in Boston it isn’t a big variety of birds; I think it’s just one or two birds, who are loud, and articulate. I think they may be robins. There are two messages I can discern; one says “Gimme the video, gimme it, gimme it,” and the other says “Here, vegan theory. Here, vegan theory,” again and again. I don’t know if it’s two birds or one bird with two agendas, but it’s pretty funny either way.


I’m not a birder but I like birds. I especially like the common European blackbird, merle in French and amsel in German, first because their songs are outrageously beautiful, and second because they never seem to be far from wine. I'd go over in March to taste the new vintage, and most of the time they had returned by then. (One or two Marches were abnormally cold and the birds weren’t there, and it was palpably quiet and not nearly as nice.) There were wines I liked, and birds I liked, and it was easy to conflate them, to see them as two manifestations of a single thing. Flavor and song and melody in both. I’m more and more amused by the question “What sort of bird would this wine be?” Or “What sort of wine would this bird be?” If you can’t answer those questions then I probably won’t care about the wine.



Indeed with some wines, mostly big wines, the only possible answer would be “This wine isn’t like any bird; it’s more like an animal, or a car.” Then I would know to avoid that wine, because I doubt very much I would like it.


A classic wine beginner’s question is What kind of wine do you like? And in my admittedly barmy view, I could easily reply, “I like small but intense wines, wines that are aerial, that are quick but not hyper, that are a little unknowable, that are most of all like music,” and of course I’m also talking about birds. I see them these days, going about their business, and think what lovely little beings they are, and when I feel a similar joy and tenderness for a wine, I know it is just the kind of wine I love the most.

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