Two-fisted birdwatching and science fiction.

What does two-fisted birdwatching have to do with science fiction? Two things: Not much. And a lot.

Not much.

Two-fisted birdwatching is about getting into the rugged, old-time, buggy, woodsy, overgrown, muddy wilderness. It’s about sometimes seeing bears and liking it. It’s about seeing birds, and knowing their names.

It’s often about going places alone, getting lost, getting scratched by thorns, facing down a weirdo in the woods who’s cradling a shotgun and looking at you while sucking on the only tooth in his mouth. It’s about spending some time like you’re living on the frontier.

Two-fisted birdwatching has not much to do with time travel, UFOs, lost-world dinosaurs and leaps of imagination. Wait a second. Did we just say time travel…? Hold on.

A lot.

Two-fisted birdwatching is about time travel. And the more you think about it, this rugged sport is also about dinosaurs, unidentified flying objects and imagination.

Walk in the wilds not far from the northern ‘burbs of Chicago in the year 2011, and you could be in a time machine. On days when no jet contrails are ruining the sky, it could be the 1800s, the 1600s, hell, it could be twenty thousand years ago. The place belongs to trees, bugs, animals and birds.


Walk the game trails. As long as you avoid human hikers, you’re living apart from time as we know it. It’s just “place.” And “time” is taking the day off.

If that sounds like science fiction, well, cool.

Now: dinosaurs. Without going into hard science, we can report that the latest information, including a story in National Geographic, shows that birds didn’t descend from dinosaurs; they are dinosaurs.

Look into the eyes of a Great Blue Heron if you can get close. Millions of years of saurian self-confidence will stare back at you. Look at the scaly claws, the bone structure. Birds equal dinosaurs. A classic sci-fi subject.

Next: “Unidentified flying objects.” Do we really have to say more?

On to the final point: imagination. When you walk in the woods, your two fists wrapped around grubby binoculars, you think of things. You’re not always spotting birds.

You think up stories. Sometimes they’re science fiction stories. Take a look at “The Ferruginous Hawk.” It came from the imagination of a guy walking in a birdless woods on a birdless day. Is it sci-fi?

Independence Day.

Today is July 4th. Independence Day. That’s also the title of a great sci-fi movie. I might re-watch it tonight.

ind day

This makes me think about how much I like science fiction. And I like other people who like it.

Sometimes science fiction fans are believed to be a little nerdy. An unfair image problem. Actually, they’re generally bright and interesting.

The public imagination has also thought of bird watchers as being a little nerdy, too. Screw the public imagination. Two-fisted birdwatching is here to zap that image into the twenty-fourth dimension.

Two-fisted birdwatchers are going to go into the wild places tomorrow, and these places will be time machines. There will be dinosaurs and flying objects. We’ll identify some of these birds, but others will remain UFOs.

And, as we go where no one has gone before, we’ll know that our style of birdwatching has not much in common with our favorite sci-fi stories. And also a lot. That sounds like a paradox.

All the best time travel adventures are paradoxes.

One Response to “Two-fisted birdwatching and science fiction.”

  1. J.T. Kirk says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Well, maybe I could have said it better myself. But I didn’t. Thanks for a leap of imagination into things that are not just imaginative but true. I’m tellin’ my friends.