Sunday, November 4, 2007

Elusive Red-spotted Vorioles

It all started with a luring e-mail:

" Friday? We could go up the river on the raft......the fall colors are nice.....and, I believe there is nest of red spotted vorioles that might interest you (takes a couple of bottles of wine to see them)... Ted"

How could we resist? Great friends, beautiful scenery, potentially great wine, and what else? A chance at a life bird! No way I'd pass this up! We were headed for the river at 3:00 pm.
Not that the river wasn't calling, but we also cherish the thought of a great "under $20 bottle of wine". We visit tastings, peruse labels, take chances, all in search of the perfect bottle. We certainly wouldn't want to pay too much for a bottle of wine, not with all of the wonderful, inexpensive ones available these days. It's all part of the fun, to find a real treasure, cheap!

We share our quest with Ted and Cathie, who have converted their old storm shelter into an earthly wine cellar. Its rustic walls of native Ozark stone give it the ambience of Old World cellars, dust and mold adding the illusion of antiquity to the corked bottles and their surroundings.
To go with our dazzling fall foliage review, Ted selects a Spanish Red, and we toss in an Argentinian Malbec. We load the sturdy floating dock, sit back in our comfortable lawn chairs, and embark upon our autumnal adventure. The reds, yellows, burgundies, and oranges reflect vividly on the still water's mirrored surface.
We read aloud the label of our first bottle of the afternoon, the Spanish Red, a 2001 Abadia Returerta Sardon del Duero "Rivola" , and head upstream on the calm, Finley River mill pond at Lindenlure. At this point anticipation fills the air. The bottle is uncorked, camping cups filled, and the bouquet passes the test for excellence. Our first sips confirm it. This wine is a gem. (I bet Cathie and Ted wish they had bought a case!) Anyway, a toast to this day, and we are on our way, with much more stimuli awaiting to awaken our senses.
Soon we are basking in the warmth of a 60 degree day. There is no breeze to stifle the sun's radiant energy, as only an occasional shadowy stretch reminds us of the day's temperature. We head for a comfortable and secure spot along the high bluffs of the Finley. This is "Flat Rock", named after the large stone slab that, ages ago, separated from the overlooking bluff, cascading downward, only to rest on the river's bank. This place holds a lifetime of cherished memories for all of us, and we are again lulled away by a sense of Nature's grace present here.
Of course, all things must pass, and soon the first bottle is empty. But alas, another bottle uncorks. This time it is one of Martha's and my favorite recent discoveries, a 2005 Silvertop Malbec , (well under $10, and quite a bargain!) Sure enough, it is shortly after the last sip of Malbec that we hear a strange avian call note coming from the foliage. It is almost certainly a Voriole, as its call resonates against the bluff right on cue. We cling to hopes of photographing the bird, but it is not to be on this day. You see, the Red-spotted Vorioles are especially difficult to locate in the fall, when their crimson spots and yellowish orange plumage blend perfectly with the chlorophyll starved Sugar Maples and oaks of its preferred habitat. We do however, catch a fleeting glimpse of our bird, at the exact same time that we are viewing the white trailing edges on the wings of a large woodpecker gliding into the evening sun.
I take this moment to wax philosophic. Here and now we rediscover good friends, flaming trees, mythical birds, and fine wine............. all reflected in and flowing down this river we call life. I look over to Ted, who is leaning back, red-faced, and smiling. I smile back as I peruse the brim of his cap. "Life is good",it says. "Yes, indeed," I answer, as the last warm rays of sunlight give way to the cool twilight in the Finley River valley............


N8 said...

Ah, you edited it, I liked the way it was set up before. : )

Greg said...

In my original post, the photos wouldn't expand. Don't know what I did wrong....