Ruby and Me

Ursula K. Le Guin, photo by Marian Wood KolischRuby and Me

by Ursula K. Le Guin

These pictures are of Ruby and me at the thirty-fifth Wild Arts Festival, an annual craft fair and book sale for the Portland Audubon Society.

Ursula and Ruby the Vulture

I attend to sign books for the very lively benefit. (People bought 58 copies of my new poetry book, Late in the Day!) Ruby attends for the edification and delight of those who behold her.

Ursula and Ruby the Vulture

Ruby turned up at the front door of a farmhouse, a young Turkey Vulture someone had tamed and then lost or abandoned. The farm family wisely brought her to the Audubon Society. She never learned the skills she needs to survive in the wild and is not accepted by her own people, so she must live with us, which she does with great dignity. I admire Ruby very much, and like to think that I look a little like her, or would if I had a majestic black-and-silvery feather cloak and an ivory nose. We both always attend the Wild Arts Fair.

In the first picture, I am trying unsuccessfully to imitate Ruby’s splendid profile. In the second one, she’s turned away because the camera flash displeased her. I wasn’t really that close to her. You don’t invade the personal space of somebody with a six-foot wingspread.

Ruby’s companion from the Audubon Society asked us what we thought she weighed. One guessed forty pounds, and one said, “If she was a Thanksgiving turkey I’d say about 18 pounds.” In fact she weighs more like 4 pounds. She is all feather and hollow bone. The Queen of Air and Darkness.

— UKL
7 December 2015

Photography by Alyson Berman
Photo-editing by Zach Kobrinsky

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Ruby and Me — 2 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this event with all of us! It was good of the vulture to pose with you. Now, I’ll have to make a late trip to the bookstore and buy your latest poetry book belatedly.