Sunday, December 24, 2006

December 2006

The sounds and the hum started well before we walked in the doors. It began through the cemetery beneath the quiet stars.

Hearts were swelling. Inside, people gathered in their Christmas best; girls in plaid skirts, boys in pressed collars. The bells began their song. Hearts were growing.

A brave young woman steps to the front to sing “Oh Holy Night” for all of us. She stumbles through the first chorus and we will her through it. A young man played saxophone while nimble fingers followed along on piano. Hearts were uniting.

Amid all of this were messages of love; for everyone. Hearts were remembering.

Outside this small church made of stone, there was a horse who knew the meaning of love. He wandered free taking in companionship as it came and missing his mother. There are bluebirds outside this church who display themselves on the ancient tree I still don’t know the name of. And inside, stars. Tonight, the trees hold stars in their hands. We all do.

An old woman sat in the pew ahead of me. Beneath her dress, she wore black flat boots in place of heels. She was gray, leaning a bit, but her foot swayed - with each note of the bell choir, the sax and the piano. Hearts were stirring. She was my favorite, though I sat next to a little star myself. We lit each other’s candle during Silent Night. I sang, sometimes I watched and I believed it could be like this; always. I am seeing it, so it is possible. I think of the animals and the earth on a night like this. I know the earth feels it. I hope the animals do, the ones who need to be remembered. I remember for them and ask for their peace. Just as I ask for my own.

Wondering as I wander.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

November 2006

I have a habit of picking up every beautiful leaf on my morning walk. By the time I return home, I’ve got a rainbow of colors spread out in my gloved hand. If I take them inside, they’ll dry and crinkle so I tuck them neatly by the pumpkins to save for later.

Usually, there is no later. But my intentions were good, to paint, paint, paint every nook and cranny of those natural wonders. When I watch leaves falling from trees I am amazed at how happy they look. How carefree, they never look back.

I lost a dear friend of mine last year at this time. I missed her. I missed her and did not see her again. I was late. I watched a star go out two nights before when I prayed for her, but I didn’t listen. I called it coincidence.

But she is a good friend. And good things never truly go. I sense her still; in the falling leaves that tell me it’s okay to let go; in the falling leaves that say slow down and just ride for a while; and in the falling leaves that whisper you are beautiful. Still.

How can a tree let go of everything she has and not worry?

I have always found trees to be very trustworthy. They know that letting go is part of life. They know it is the beginning of renewal.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

October 2006

Autumn Joy

Have you ever tried to catch a leaf

that tumbles from the sky?

It’s almost there inside my hand

then Whoosh! it passes by

A roaring wind- the game begins

my heart anticipates-

Yellow-red or fiery gold

which one will I chase?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

September 2006

There is something about cool air traveling through the trees that excites me. There is movement everywhere. The trees are changing, not in color yet, but they are ready. And around my pond the birds are coming! -the ones that travel through and visit only a week or two, or maybe just a day, before heading out to warmer pastures. A Ruby-Crowned-Kinglet jumps among the rose stems that overhang the water. His tiny wings cause ripples on the surface when he dashes overhead. Never have you seen such a springy little fellow, and through my binoculars he flashes his ruby feathers just long enough to make me smile. Last fall the Golden-Crowned-Kinglet and I watched the setting sun among wild crabapples and blossoming bittersweet. This year there is a new development where the horse used to wander and the hedge, with its ancient crabapples and twists of orange berries, has been taken down.

I am glad to have a pond and an apple tree of my own and a place for the birds. It’s the least I can do. And so, here is a picture of my little Kinglets for you - perhaps they’ll be in your backyard next! Sometimes, if you’re lucky like me, the Golden-Crowned-Kinglet will come close enough for you to see his crown and hear his tiny wisps. But that takes wild places and cool breezes and patience.

Best of luck, because if you do, you’ll have a friend forever.

There are two Kinglets, the Golden-Crowned and the Ruby-Crowned, both are very small birds, but the Golden-Crowned is even smaller than the Ruby! Marigold accidentally called the female Kinglet “Queenlet” and he gave a very pretty bow, no one said anything but Anthea told him later they’re both called Kinglets!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

August 2006

To sit on my deck in an August evening is to hear a symphony of strange and wonderful sounds; crickets and cicadas and the late cardinal. A handful of unknowns that one moment sound right next to you and the next, miles away; only a distant conversation.

My deck is screened eight feet up the sides, but there is no roof so that we can look up into the giant Sycamore branches and through to the sky. At night, if there is a full moon, the leaves cast intimate shadows that waltz when the wind moves through them. It has become too dark to read and, because our beloved cat isn’t ready to come in yet, my husband and I sit under the pale light surrounded by a ruckus of chatter. I wish I had a fairy to introduce me to this nightly cast of creatures with such powerful voices. Instead, I simply have to imagine who is making the “kah, kah, kah, …” and the spinning sounds like a baseball card on a bike wheel.

If I close my eyes (and get past the idea that a spider is going to land on me!) I can meet these creatures one by one in my imagination. Clicking and humming and reminding us that nighttime is just as alive as the day.

Here are a few imaginary little fellows; maybe you could do better….

Saturday, July 15, 2006

July 2006

With humming birds, you don’t hear them coming. You have to just wander to the kitchen flower box for no particular reason and look out for even less of a reason and get stopped in your tracks. A teensy little heavenly thing bobbing around the flowers and you forget to breathe. And by the time you get your cat in the window and call your husband down she’s gone. That’s usually the way it is with hummingbirds. Though one time it was different.

I had set a chair in the shade by my zinnia patch and I was looking out into my other garden bed just waiting for something good to happen when a little hummer came. She was only a foot away and I had a very nice look at all her shiny feathers and the way her tiny feet were held and how the sun shaped her delicate face as she sampled the zinnias. Two times she came and let me watch her like that. Then she was gone. Some time had passed when I heard a little chirp in my left ear. I turned and she was looking right at me as if to say, “Pay attention, here I am!”

So now I do. Because everything good really is all around you. And when I forget, I listen for the chirp.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

June 2006

It is June 1st and I am doing my diary early. I have to. The wrens are out! We went to run an errand and found five peeping, tailless, fluttery spoonfuls of baby Carolina Wrens dotting all sorts of things in our garage. I wish my eyes were cameras because they landed on my antique rake, my ancient shovels (which my husband tells me I have to stop buying) and on my neat little bushel baskets. Each event would make the most delightful painting. Yet, honestly, I’d never get them all done anyway.

But they’re out and it’s time to celebrate. I believe we have five fledglings despite the six eggs I saw in the nest. I showed you the eggs in last months article. If I can, I shall take a good look and paint a picture of these babies because you really should see them. The wrens are among my favorite birds, but then again, if I’ve got them in eyesight, they all become my favorites.

Perhaps I’ll find them in my rose garden next; it really is fabulous this year. The mama and papa are scurrying along recklessly trying to feed their wormy morsels accordingly, but the little ones don’t want to sit still. I imagine that’s just what it’s like when you’ve got yourself a new pair of wings!

(…the baby didn’t really sit next to the rose, I made that part up, but I couldn’t resist keeping this yellow beauty to myself.)

Saturday, May 6, 2006

May 2006

It is precisely this time of year that I remember why I don’t use chemicals in my yard. We have the boldest little robins, speckled and tailless hopping about; their mothers and fathers arriving with beaks full of green worms and other tasty treats.

We have new wrens too! The House Wrens traded in their contemporary for a more traditional house that sits atop the arbor and, today, these littlest of wrens are leaving their home for the first time. One brave fellow has ventured from his dark wooden house; flapping his wings but going nowhere, he chatters the lovely wren song for the first time with only a few notes out of place. Soon, another curious face appears in the hole and I can almost hear the sunshine coaxing them out. She joins her brother on the arbor, sings, sits still, looks around and hops back in. I think there are four all together. They take turns hopping in and out and learning to sing. Two have trusted their wings and now sit below the holly awaiting mom and dad’s lunch basket.

When I see these babies so delighted in their new world and I see these parents working so hard to feed their young, I wouldn’t dare spoil their work. The worms that are sprayed do get put into little mouths. I have seen, more than once, a dead robin on my morning walks lying on the brightest and prettiest green lawn you ever saw.

I don’t like weeds, but I like more the vision of newborns munching happily on fresh, clean food; the sight of mamas and papas feeding their families mouthful after mouthful of garden critters. That’s hard work. It’s a gift I get to watch and so I do my part. I let them have life as it was meant to be, full of plenty, full of freedom, full of abundance. They are good teachers….. look around, what you want is just around the corner…Keep moving! Nature knows what we need. Trust. She will deliver. It’s all right here.

Happy everything to you.

PS. Carolina Wren has nested in an old flower pot in the garage. When she left her nest for a moment, we held our breath, got on our tippy toes and carefully snuck a peek: two of the tiniest, wettest little babies leaning on their yet un-hatched siblings. AWWWWWW! I would try to paint it for you but I hadn’t a long enough look!

Sunday, April 9, 2006

April 2006

I wish you were here, peering over my shoulder. The feathered ones are hopping about the garden with mouthfuls of grass and moss and other curious treasures left over from the winter patch. It looks like a rummage sale and oh, are they enthusiastic!

House Wren has chosen the round, white-washed house with the pointy little top. I had meant to paint her name above the door, but I probably pulled weeds instead. Anyway, here she comes, a rather wide and horizontal shape (when her mouth is full of twigs and other earthy stuff), heading into a very roundish hole. And though you aren’t next to me, I’m sure you can imagine as I actually see, that many of the sticks do not make it into the nest but fall to the ground. Frustrated, I decide to help, preparing as I might a bundle of small sticks easily fitted through a round door.

I slip on my boots and head to the garden, just to see for myself what all the excitement is about. This is what I notice…

Miss Wren does not need my help in gathering nesting supplies. Under my black-eyed-susans (which are already 4 inches of green leaves high (yippee!) I coax out bundles of old, broken stems properly sized, properly shaped for a nest. Beneath my hemlock, the one by my studio window, I find blankets of soft and feathery twigs that winter’s bellow has brought down. Not only are they thin and flexible, but the edges are cut with ridges; perfect for clinging to each other and fastening a nest firmly to a tree. In all the quiet places, under all the growing things I find fluffy mosses and sticks and grasslets and muds for every style home.

There you have it! Mother Earth has done it again and I am struck with the care that She has for all her little babies. For all of us!

I have shown you the House Wren and the Carolina Wren, two of my favorites! Both have an irresistibly delightful song and a charming manner of flitting about like little winged mice. Marigold, being the helpful sort that he is, helps Carolina Wren with her nesting chores.

I will keep an eye out for Chickadee too and keep you posted on the robin nesting in the prickly holly tree.

Until then, know that good things are coming!