Solstice Massacre

First there was the sun, rising in the notch just minutes after 7 a.m., rising as far south as it will get this year (oops! I meant north, I’ve made this mistake before, wonder why?). Now, slowly, it will climb back up the hill to the right, pass the microwave tower on the top, drop back down into the next notch, then climb and climb until it almost reaches the top of Santaquin Peak, where it will rest on the winter solstice.


So far so good.

Late in the afternoon, a cool, sunny afternoon that felt like you hope mid-June ought to feel — easy and inviting and even a little invigorating — and then a hellacious screeching brought us out onto the deck. At least four black-headed grosbeaks were doing everything they could to chase two big magpies away from a nest.

We had seen the nest and its two baby occupants a few days earlier, just off a trail through the oak brush to the west of the house. Now we ran out to help chase away the murderous magpies.

It was too late.



The male grosbeak, to end this with a bit of good news, was singing his head off the next morning on the top branch of a maple, figuring, I think, that there’s still time for a new brood.

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at
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2 Responses to Solstice Massacre

  1. Mike Roloff says:

    Sorry to hear about the murderous Magpies – but more worrisome is you sense of where North and South are! Today the sun rose at its northernmost point from the point of view of those in lower latitudes, no?


  2. Scott Abbott says:

    oops. a slip of the mind. it’s fixed now. thanks for the correction.
    as for the magpies, i have always loved them, related as they are to crows and ravens, and they are so strikingly beautiful. but after the massacre, i’m afraid i’ll be seeing them as assassins.


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