I remember when I got my first first-class binoculars. Took me about a month to try every single brand, every price point, until I found the ones I wanted. Leica. I waited for the weekend of my first glassed excursion. And saw, as my first bird, a scarlet tanager, my lifer. I stood in the middle of busy Prospect Park crying at the world that had just opened up to me.

I love my binos. LOVE them. A touch of the focus wheel, and the hidden world leaps into my eye. It’s hard to explain. Perhaps other birders feel the same as I do. Other glass might be good–exceptional, even. But they’re not the ones that chose you.

Folks who blanch at the thought of spending that much money on good glass never will get it. But it’s like putting a price on an eye. Or an arm. Good glass is the difference between Spam and Porterhouse. Between boxed wine and something a little more exalted. And considering how many hours the things have spent at my eyes, I think the cost has more than paid for itself.

This week on the river…more indigo buntings than I’ve ever seen in one place. An orchard oriole. And, oh yes, a scarlet tanager, my river lifer.