Blue-grey tiny tufted flycatcher (I know I keep saying I won't write about birds anymore, but the's there)

This weekend, being the awesome wife that I am, I suggested to J that we finally go take a walk at this biological reserve mentioned in his books as an absolutely great place to go birding. The place is serious business. We had to go to the North Carolina Botanical Garden first to get a pass allowing us into this holy place. While at the front desk of the information center at the Garden, a weekend volunteer - a tall man wearing glasses, peach turtleneck and matching peach button-down - told us, after we'd asked for a pass, "Yeah. That's where, um, the birds are," as though we'd just asked for the keys to the nerd museum. As I've mentioned before, walking in deserted wooded areas isn't my favorite thing. I realize this is pretty silly, but still, I couldn't help but notice we were pretty much the only people around. My guess is that was because a person really, really has to want to go to this place. You've got to get your key, and then you've got to follow the rules, including the no-dogs rule and also the rule where if you are not interested in looking for new species, well, you'd better just chill and enjoy the walk.

Admittedly, it was pretty there, and it is rather hard to find large plots of land that are so undisturbed in developed areas. Also, the new bird J saw that day, and consequentially added to his Life List, was precious.

As J practiced his healthy, semi-adorable hobby, I, of course, fell to needless self-scrutiny, specifically: why didn't I have any pastimes like this? Something to soothe the soul? Something I could lose myself, or find myself, doing?

I voiced my concerns to J, who lowered his binoculars and told me that of course I had hobbies. I liked to knit and read and write. And socialize with people.

And although that last one bears little resemblance to the bird-watching, stamp-collecting, gardening-genre of ways to spend one's time, I realized, with my husband's help, that I'm certainly not a passionless person, and happily resumed the stroll, always watching over my shoulder lest some crazed lunatic should emerge from the vast woodlands, because I swear to you - the thing is, if he did - no one would hear it. Except those birds and honest to God, what help are birds?