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All the Nicest Places

Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." ~ John 1:46

In a scene worthy of an Arlo Guthrie song, today I stood at a gate across an access road informing me that the transfer station was closed. I was not there in a micro minivan with a half a ton of garbage. Mine was a more sublime quest, I was there on the report of Iceland Gulls, and maybe even a Glaucous Gull. But, alas, the distant looks at a half dozen gulls on a rooftop would not yield either of the target species. At least now I know when I can return and take up the time honored tradition among birders of spending time in all the nicest places, like dumps and water treatment plants. Come to think of it, I was just at the water treatment plant in Ogunquit two weeks ago, where I stood in the rain for two hours in order to be rewarded with my life Townsend’s Warbler. Maybe it’s time to head back so I can get it on my new year list as well, hmmm.

Every birder has had an encounter or two with a Nathaniel, turning up their nose at the thought of spending hours scanning through hundreds of infuriatingly similar gray and white birds nibbling on refuse at the landfill when the time could be better spent looking for birds in the places where they belong like national parks and bird sanctuaries. Sure, those places are popular for good reason, in part because they are predictable. But finding the rarity likely means going to places where others rarely go, and sometimes they are real dumps, as in literally real dumps. But give Philip credit, he does what anyone finding a rarity would do, he invites his friend to come and see.

Can anything good come out of Nazareth? If you know anything about holy Wild Goose chases you will know that the Nazareths of the world are exactly the place to look for good things.

Prayer: Wild Goose Spirit, lead us into those places that we won’t go on our own. Amen.


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