White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk

White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk
These rare white deer twins were born this summer and have found a safe home at Dan Daniel Park and on the Riverwalk
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My name is David Hoffman. I teach English and journalism at Averett University, but I have two side interests - writing and photography. I also enjoy walking daily with my English setter, Sadie, and my wife, Elizabeth, on the Danville, Virginia, Riverwalk. As a novice to studying nature, I am fascinated by the slightest facets of the great outdoors, but most of my pictures are of birds - I don't know a lot about them, but I am learning more and enjoying taking pictures of them daily. I also take pictures of plants, other animals, and insects. All pictures posted for each day were taken on the day of my blog entry.

Leave a comment if you have the time or e-mail me at dhoffman@averett.edu


Monday, April 26, 2010


(APRIL 26, 2010) This gray bird with the black crown is a little guy I haven't seen in a while (perhaps for nearly a year). This morning the bird sat quietly in the foliage as Sadie and I walked by. I would have missed this fellow had Sadie not stopped to check out something on the ground (bird droppings, I assume - they are her morning treats). As I looked around, I saw a slight movement in the trees as the cowbird was moving his head, just slightly. I moved my camera up to take a shot, and he just sat there posing for me. I believe that the catbird is a close relative to the mockingbird, and neither bird seems to be too shy.

Whenever I see a catbird, I think of James Thurber's short story, "The Catbird Seat." There was a phrase that was once popular that implied that anyone who is above another, that is, in charge of the other, then that person in the superior position is "sitting in the catbird seat." Thurber, as he did throughout his writing career, pits a strong, dominant female character against a meek, milquetoast male character.

In this story there is Mr. Martin, a man who has worked for a company for many years and has established a routine in his life. However, his world is turned up-side down when the boss hires Ulgine Barrows, a strong willed manager whose job is to change things around the place. Her favorite phrase is, "I'm sitting in the catbird seat," a phrase she uses until it becomes a mere cliche.

The story is of this meek Mr. Martin confronting Mrs. Barrows in a way that is masterful and full of deceit. At the end of the story, Mr. Martin is literally sitting in the "catbird seat" while Mrs. Barrow uses the phrase only as a cliche. It is a good read, and a good story to show how a stronger creature (Ulgine Barrows) dominates the weaker character (Mr. Martin) until the weaker character decides he has had enough.

Here is a link to the story by Thurber:


In the world on the Riverwalk, Sadie sees herself as a dominant female on the trail with weak birds and squirrels. She postures herself as a good English setter with her head held high as she stalks the bird or the squirrel. She sees herself sitting in the "catbird seat," when, in actuality, the weaker animals (the birds and the squirrels) are in that position because they can do two things Sadie can't do - birds can fly and squirrels can climb. Sadie will never catch a bird nor will she ever catch a squirrel. But she does enjoy the hunt.

It was a beautiful morning on the Riverwalk but started to get a bit warmer as we concluded our walk at around 8:00.

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