Things They Carried

So, today, as I was procrastinating writing a paper about The Great Gatsby, I was reading through my past works for English class and I stumbled upon a piece that I had written back in September before the conception of this blog. It was a tribute to the book, The Things They Carried, about a Vietnam veteran and his experiences. We had to read it over this past summer and then write a piece that copied the style of an excerpt from the book. Since everyone else was doing something about various sports or doctors etc., I decided to do it about birders because I figured no one really knows about us in my school, at least. And now, I figured, as birders, you would like to read it. So, without further ado, here it is:

Things They Carried

They carry field guides, granola bars, and reusable water bottles. They carry prized, expensive, back-breaking scopes and worn, scuffed, sweat-stained binoculars. Those binoculars that have helped them see miracles, spectacles, stunning commons and plain rarities alike. They carry stories–stories of high success and miserable failure, and experiences that everyone wished they could have been a part of or cringed at when told of the misfortune. They carry the many hours of reading, listening, and memorization it takes to try to master their passion. They carry important field marks, silhouettes, behaviors, and calls. They carry sunscreen, organic bug spray, rain jackets, waterproof shoes, and cameras. They carry the blistering heat of midsummer in long sleeves and pants, the bitter winds and freezing snow that numbs them, the pouring rains of spring, and the crisp chill of fall. They carry ticks, Lyme disease, horseflies, gnats, and mosquito bites. They carry thick, sloppy mud and damp, drowning sweat. They carry the break of dawn, when what they seek is most active, when only the sheer hope of seeing something no one else has seen before shakes them from the tiredness that grips them.

They carry responsibilities. Responsibilities that tie them to normal life while they would much rather be soaring with what they love. They carry uniqueness that costs them. It forces them to carry much more: strange looks, whisperings, shame. They try to strip these items from themselves, but they always worm their way back to drag them down. They carry grief and loneliness, a strange sense of being an outcast. They readily carry each other to cope, carrying sympathy and understanding to turn the deep wounds to scars. They carry blazing head lamps, sprawling checklists, tedious notebooks, and messy sketchbooks.  They carry the drive of ambition and unstoppable competitiveness. Always wanting to see something new, something to boast about, something unheard of.

They carry knowledge about every aspect of their study, the subtle nuances of color, shape, size, sound, behavior, and spirit of each individual. They carry ever-scrutinizing eyes and acute ears. They carry each part of their subject–the pointy beak, the bony legs, the pin-prick claws, the flicking tail, the beady, emotional eyes, and the flitting, powerful wings. Those nearly weightless wings that capture them all, that bring their separate lives together, that once spotted, for a merciful while, lift and carry away all of the things they wish they didn’t carry.

I hope you all enjoyed!

Until next time,

Madelyne Ray


One comment

  1. Oh I loved every word! I hope you received an “A”. I thought of you this morning as I worked in the garden and noticed that a mother finch has set up residence in a low decorative birdhouse. She let me know, quite loudly, that I needed to carry myself to another area of the yard.


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