Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Wherefore Art Thou Murr?

Murrelet Halterman
Got a message the other day. "Do you get Birding Magazine? There's a Murrelet in there."

I hadn't gotten the latest issue but I wasn't surprised to learn there was a murrelet in there. That's where I'd expect to find one. As opposed to, say, Sports Illustrated. Not an actual murrelet. They're small enough, but not flat enough. I figured there'd be an article about the Marbled Murrelet.

They're incredible little birds. In a world wherein we might assume we've found out everything by now, the murrelet's life has remained a mystery until very recently. They are sea birds, but they breed onshore. Somewhere. It took a lot of legwork and time, but a dedicated group of scientists finally discovered they nest in the very highest parts of very old and very tall conifers. They find a small cushy platform of moss or lichens swaying way the hell up there and they pop out a single egg on it, sit it for a month, feed the baby fish for another forty days, by flying fifty miles to the ocean and back at least twice a day, and then the baby up and flies to the ocean by herself, if she's so very lucky to still be alive. It's a tough road. And if there weren't a hundred other reasons to leave those Pacific old-growth forests the hell alone, that would be enough, right there: murrelet eggs, on a high moss cushion.

Yeah. I read a whole book about them. But that wasn't what was in the Birding Magazine. Instead there was an interview with a surpassingly cool woman named Murrelet. Murrelet Halterman picked her name out herself.  She's another Mary slid sideways. She was flipping through the bird book and picked that one out for a nickname, figuring "it was enough like Mary that her parents wouldn't notice." A different woman might have gone for Robin or Lark, but clearly Murrelet has a certain kind of class. Also, she is a nutcase. I like that in a person.

My own Mary name slid sideways without my intervention. It's easier to report that my college friends were too stoned to pronounce Mary, but it's not really true. What happened was my friend Walter and I were pretty much the only Southerners in the whole college, which was populated almost entirely from New York, New Jersey, and New England. Walter was from Atlanta. This was the closest either of us was ever going to get to feeling ethnic. We started drawling in each other's company just for drill and solidarity, and it proved contagious. Pretty soon everybody was saying things like "Turrible, turrible." (We opted for Walter's more adorable accent. Nobody wants to hear the version from Virginia, where my name would be pronounced "May-Ree.") Thus and then I became "Murry." And eventually "Murr," because my friends were too stoned to...well. Anyway.

I was certainly not going to spell it Myrrh. Too fancy. And I had no idea that there was such a bird as a Murre. I wasn't a birder. Forty years later, when I joined that fraternity as its least adept member, it was too late. Theoretically, since Mom didn't name me Murr, I could add an "e" whenever I wanted to, and some of my friends do out of affection. But by now it feels like putting on airs.

In any case, Murrelet and I aren't all alone in this. My Dave married a girl just like the girl who married dear old Dad: Mary Alice Price.

Her friends called her "Murry."

25 comments:

  1. I, too, am really a Mary, or more accurately a Mary Margaret. I didn't pick out my sobriquet because of the double Ms, though. Nor even because I am a Francophile. When I was a baby, just trying to string together words, I apparently made the sounds "me... me... me" often enough for my family to start calling me Mimi. Seems like I was self-involved from the get-go. Either that, or a budding opera singer. Since I have heard my singing voice, I can safely rule out the latter.

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    1. There aren't that many Mary babies anymore. When I was in grade school, there were always three of us in a class of 25: Mary B, Mary V, and Mary G. It's due for a comeback.

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  2. I once belonged to a private little forum of friends and we all had to choose a bird for our name.
    Funny how a bird name can motivate one to post catty remarks. lol But it was all done in fun. Happened so long ago. Your post brought up the memories.

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    1. Now wait--why didn't you tell us your bird name? I think all commenters should now choose a bird name.

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    2. Oooo! I want to be a Crow! Corvids are Cooool!

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    3. I pick albatross. I love the idea of flying and gliding long, long distances with nothing to bother me.

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    4. Sparrow. I definitely need god's eye on me.

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  3. I married a Mary Alice. Unfortunately, it was a mistake that I am currently rectifying. Usually called her Mare, but not for any obvious reasons other than being too lazy for two syllables. Does Dave realize what he has done? Sometimes we men are a little slow to grasp the implications of our deeds.

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    1. Now that you mention it, I was Mare for a while too, early on. WAIT: Are you saying it's a mistake to marry a Mary?

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    2. No, but maybe he married his mother. It's okay if she was wonderful, but in my case it didn't work out that way. Dave is a lucky man.

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    3. He had a really nice mommy. He did. Although she was tall.

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  4. Murrelet Halterman might be smokin' sumpin...does she look a little..."high on life" in that photo? You go, girl!

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    1. Some people have a greater endowment of joy than others.

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  5. How I would love to see a marbled murrelet. Or even any murelet (including the writer of this post). And yes, most definitely an excellent reason to leave the old growth forests (and moss) alone.

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    1. I thought I saw one once but odds are very strong that it was just another small black and white bird bobbing on the water. Sea birds do not fuss much with color. They run formal.

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  6. Seems like an excellent reason to leave those old trees alone for another century or two. This is the first I've ever heard about marbled murrelets, I only know about gulls and pelicans and ospreys and those birds with a huge wingspan, their name begins with A and that's all I remember of them.

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  7. "What do you want to be?" said the man. "I want to be a Loon when I grow up" said the Murrelet.

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    i am ERIC BRUNT by name. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my wife after three(3) years of marriage just because another Man had a spell on her and she left me and the kid to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address AKHERETEMPLE@gmail.com have help a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a man had a spell on my wife and he told me that he will help me and after 3 days that i will have my wife back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my wife. Thanks for helping me Dr Akhere contact him on email: AKHERETEMPLE@gmail.com
    or
    call/whatsapp:+2349057261346

    ReplyDelete