Interruptions abound as I try to write a blog post today. It’s snowy and rainy here, but that didn’t stop the White-crowned Sparrows from bathing in the bird-bath out front. That required several minutes of my attention and everyone knows that even a short interruption breaks the smooth flow of words from a writer. (Writers are very sensitive.) And when a White-crowned Sparrow bathes, attention must be paid. All those contortions and wing flapping and water spraying demand it.
Not long after that, I was gazing out the window – turning over a fine phrase in my mind; getting it just right – when I saw a male House Sparrow flip a female on her back and hold her down. I had never seen anything like that before. The female screamed at him and he pecked at her and we’re all glad I couldn’t translate what she was saying. The whole affair only lasted three or four seconds, but probably cost me half an hour of good writing time. That fine phrase was gone like a shooting star, never to be seen by mortals.
Then some Lesser Goldfinches arrived. Because they are the first of the year, I had to watch them. One can’t just ignore the changing of the seasons. Strictly speaking, the goldfinches aren’t changing the season, of course, but they signify that this winter of gray days and gray humours will pass eventually. (That male House Finch on top of the feeder is getting ready for spring too.)
After that I returned with a will to the blog post I started so many hours ago.
But then I made a mistake. I logged on to the internet to check my email. My first discovery there was a long article by writers on the rules writers should follow. One of them was, “Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.”
Then I discovered that astronomers have concluded that more than one kind of Type 1a supernovae exist. It turns out that white dwarf stars that explode into supernovae probably blow up when they collide, not by slowly stealing gas from their neighbors until they reach critical mass. A short little video animation accompanies the article, showing exactly how this happens. Watching it makes you dizzy.
That was the end of the blog post. Type 1a supernovae are what we use to measure the size of the universe and if they explode because they collide instead of just getting too massive – well, you can see the problems that creates for anybody trying to write a blog post about birds.