I realize that not many readers are pigeon fanciers but I have been since I was eight, and pigeons are an integral part of life at Casa Q. Those who find them a bit low- class– I once reviewed a book for the TLS which was generally good, but which remarked that pigeons were unattractive, and snobbishly implied that their breeders were too– should remember that Darwin was a pigeon breeder who like all of us bored his friends with chatter about them. (The great geologist Lyell actually complained about it!) Tim Gallagher took this photo of me consulting the pigeon section of his book on variation under domestication, which preceded his explicitly evolutionary works…
Recently two fanciers from different parts of the world sent me pigeon culture pix. John Agresto is an old friend, the former president of St John’s, a New Mexico resident when not on the road, a Classicist, and an adventurous scholar who was tapped to rebuild the University system in Iraq, and later to start one in Iraqui Kurdistan. In early life, he was a traditional New York rooftop flyer in Brooklyn, where his father was a barber (remember “On the Waterfront?). When he lived in the land of pigeon- obsessed Kurds (I have never seen a culture with more pigeon sport than the nearby Kurdish part of Turkey) he reverted to his roots and kept a loft. He sent me this photo of his favorite breed, one that the locals call “Bokharas”, which do not correspond to any of the breeds on the good Turkish websites nor to any in the myriad Arabic YouTubes. Any ideas from readers as to what they might be?
Meanwhile long- time correspondent Rabishankar Pal in Kolkata (Calcutta) India has been sending me photos of his Madras homers, both like and unlike our Belgian- derived modern racers. They are apparently both good and enduring highlyers that can evade the ever- present falcons, and long- distance homers. I wonder if they are the kind of homers that star in in the 1920’s classic children’s pigeon adventure tale Gay Neck by Dhan Gopal Mukerji?
Mr Pal, after perusing Q blog, wrote an outsider’s perspective on our strange Southwestern culture that is both funny and original, and surprisingly accurate: far more so than many expressed by many romantic Nuevo incomers; they are considering putting it up at the Spur:
“Steve, you have terrific countrysides in Magdalena. Much like in Western Cowboy Movies. Gun draws, big hats, cigars, total lawlessness and a busy Sheriff, plenty of home made wine,beautiful blondes and all that. The terrains are difficult and from what I could gather Querencia does not have a big population. A perfect setting for writers, thinkers and peace lovers and of course pigeon fanciers.”
Our actual Sheriff (actually Marshall Larry Cearley, who does wear a big hat), remarked that but for more dark heads then blonde he thought it pretty much “got” us. While singer- songwriter Tom Russell, our near neighbor just to the south in El Paso, wrote: “Cool– sounds like daily life in El Paso– all of it!”