chapter  16
5 Pages

American Dippers and Alberta Winter Strawberries

WithDavid W. Jardine

The American dipper is a small black bird, half way in size between a robin and a sparrow, L-shaped, with stubby upright tail and head balanced high. These dippers are common all year long along the Elbow River that winds out of the Rocky Mountains and through Calgary, Alberta. Walked this past winter, in —40 degree winds, along the Elbow and its swirls of ice fog over rare still patches of open water, most of the river steeply hurrying east. Swim underwater upstream about 10 feet at a go, feeding on water-carried food. Then standing there dipping up and down while waiting for the next dive. Home, eating freshly bought fresh strawberries. Delicious red juicydrip taste. Then suddenly grotesquely beautiful. Suddenly out of place. The odd, objective strawberries, ripped out of the Earthy contexts of their arrival—no Earth to smell, no resignation to waiting fulfilled, no sunny warmth—can, however, also be alerting.