Starting with the birds.
The sky is alive. A speckled sky, fluttering with activity, motion, wings and song, as the snow continues to fall. Birds everywhere. Black dots in leafless trees. Brewers blackbirds, nuthatch, starling, common crows, mountain blue birds, stellar jays, finches, juncos and grosbeaks.
The shrill call of the redwing blackbird lends a staccato refrain to the gentle background melody of the robin. Such beauty in their simple tune.
The ground moves, and upon second glace, down there with the doves, we see the cowbirds scratching at last year’s seeds, melting out a tiny patch of snow about them, leaving a tell tale circle of dark, wet ground when they fly away all together, all at once, only to settle back down almost where they started from.
During breakfast, while the snow falls in white feathered flakes, the long black bird I can only figure might be a cormorant or ibis (anyone know?) cuts across the view in a perpendicular line along the storm softened horizon.
And then a raven on the fence post looking down. I follow his gaze to the ground. Beneath a blue spruce we planted there years ago, now well established, a healthy young tree much taller than me. There in the wake of the boughs, a ruffled mass of brown and spots. I slip on my boots to inspect. The injured grouse flies off, the raven trailing, leaving a trace of blood and feathers behind.
At times I wish to intervene with nature.
And then the weather.
A little bit of everything. I have felt rain. Seen our fair share of spring snow. And then in one sunny day, the ground melts out, dries and promises us a productive spring. The grass is greening in the moisture. When we can see it, beneath the regular coverings of white.
It’s up for grabs. And we grab it all. A longing to see everything, feel touch taste smell each softening change of the season, experience the intimacy we have known and shared at a time when the mountain opens, beckons and still no one stays. A bittersweet acceptance, knowing it will not last. On one hand, such excitement. On the other, a combination of fear and grasping for the past. The latter is the weaker hand. The past does not draw me like the future does. Can we work to make a better past? Yet how many try? We can work for a better tomorrow.
Remember the quote by Hunter S. Thompson:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a ride!’”
Seems not a popular view as I look around lives and towns and a country of safe and easy and holding on tight to memories and positions and safe choices. But I like it. I think I want to slide into home base. Only quietly. So I can hear the birds along the way.
I begin by listening. In the darkness of the early morning before I look up and out, and remain safe and warm in my own little world, my home.
Still, even there and then, the robin’s song, the spring song, penetrates. I am warmer still by their refrain.
Spring mornings are all about birds. A dramatic change from the silence of winter, when the only sound of birds is the slow scratching panic of the jays on frigid mornings as they await their handout, or the slow steady pulsing beat of one of the two ravens that share the cover of our trees all winter long. Like the sound of air through the lungs of a running horse.
Now the morning cacophony as I step out under the sheltered deck to check on the horses before feeding time.
These birds. Congregating here and now. Regrouping perhaps, resting, enjoying their free meal after their long journey north. Some will continue onward. We won’t see them again until fall, if fall finds me still here. The rest will dissipate as the tourists congregate.
Many will head for the hills, for the shelter of higher ground and fewer people, dogs and roaring motors. We will see them up at the ditch. A fine place to meet again.
And then I will be gone. And the birds will fare fine on their own. And I will be out there feeding a new flock, in a new home, in a new land.
And so, about us.
Though I guess I’ve taken up enough of your time for one sitting.
I’ll save the rest for next time.