Here in Provincetown, there are lots of birds. Seagulls, mostly, but other species, too, and they always seem to billow en masse from behind the houses across the street from mine—the ones that front the beach. Peter, the next-door neighbor, jokes constantly about how it would be easy, living here, for one to fall into the trap of thinking you’re living in Hitchcock’s The Birds. I thought he was clever and cool, of course, but silly at the same time.

Until last Friday. I drove the other resident, Sigrid, to the airport. It’s just a tiny little strip and building, and although it isn’t far from town at all, once you reach the end of Conwell Street, you are driving through towering dunes and huddling woods. All of it, from what I understand, is natural preserve, complete with walking and biking trails that go for miles.

On the way back, I pulled into a parking lot at one of the trail heads. Of course, the place was deserted, and I decided to take a few photos. As I stood there, camera at the ready, I heard something that sounded like a cat purring, very close to my ear. I looked around, and saw nothing. The “cat” purred again. Was there an animal nearby? It was pleasantly spooky, and I have to confess although it was ten in the morning and sunny, I was having reservations about staying too much longer.

Again, the cat purr. Then, I felt something brush my cheek.

It was a bird’s wing.

Chickadees. There were chickadees surrounding me. In the trees above my head, at my feet, in the beach scrub. The “cat” purring was the sound of their wings. I had never in my life heard what a bird fluttering its wings sounded like up close. There was something very peaceful about it, and intimately creepy at the same time. Sure, they were cute. But the way they were fearless, came so close to my ears, and were overly vocal…I think they wanted me to follow them into the woods.

I chose not to go, and then when I returned to the apartment, there were several of them hanging around outside my slider.

It occurred to me that perhaps Peter wasn’t being silly at all.

The wild dunes.

Here is the trail entrance,  in case any of you are in P-Town and want to visit the spot.

This is near where I parked.

The beginning of the path.

Look at how close they came!

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in countless magazines and anthologies. She has received three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies, served as a co-editor for Read Short Fiction, has judged both writing and grant competitions and co-hosts the Dark Discussions Podcast. Her work Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole is a collection of ghost stories set in Disney Parks; her novel, Bad Apple, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She’s also a member of the New England Horror Writers Association. More info:

Posted on January 27, 2010, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Awwww,The sights and sounds of our dear friends,the birds.
    Thank you for sharing Kristi. This blog took me to a season in my own life ,when I too was so close to nature ,and the simplistic music of the universe and her inhabitants. To marvel at the workings of a species,other than humans,is to know JAH.

    It’s truly awesome eh?

    • Yes, Iris! It’s awesome. I’m always inspired to read your comments…I had never HEARD what a bird’s wings sounded like. It was the most amazing thing. And birds…they are harbingers of good things.

      Miss you much. Please keep chiming in and keep me posted. You rock!

  2. Lovely! Reminds me of Verlyn Klinkenborg writing on the editorial page of the Times about his intersection with nature. Judy and I are going up to the Cape next summer, staying at a house that is a beautiful contemporary structure that looks like an explosion in a geometry class.

  3. Your pics remind me so much of a place where I went on several writing retreats back in college! It was in WI instead, but the retreats were in late winter/early spring usually, and I have several pics that remind me of the ones you posted. Remind me and I’ll try to find them — on our first retreat there, we found a weird old cabin in the woods that had what we decided was a deer spine on the floor….

    • Hey, Rachel!! Yeah, I’d LOVE to see those! It’s so funny you mention the deer spine…there’s been this really odd item outside my door for days, literally. Kinda looks like a corn cob…Peter told me it’s the piece of a spine of a very large fish. Bony, not cartilaginous (sp?). I have yet to get a photo of it. I should before some cat or something carries it away!

      Got your e-mail about February…wow, we’re that close already? I’ll be home on 2/14. We’ll figure it out. Hope your little one’s an Aquarius (because, you know, we’re cool!).

  4. Oh the pics are awesome. I have fallen in love with P-town and your photos and writings are spot on. We have to chat soon. Hugs-Gail

    • Awesome! Hey, I heard those birds are so tame because everybody feeds them! Somebody told me you could REALLY tempt fate and put the birdseed on your arm and they’ll sit there and eat it right off there.

      Maybe I should go up there sometime and try it.

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