O hushed October morning mild, Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild, Should waste them all. The crows above the forest call; Tomorrow they may form and go. O hushed October morning mild, Begin the hours of this day slow. Make the day seem to us less brief. Hearts not averse to being beguiled, Beguile us in the way you know. Release one leaf at break of day; At noon release another leaf; One from our trees, one far away. Retard the sun with gentle mist; Enchant the land with amethyst. Slow, slow! For the grapes’ sake, if they were all, Whose leaves already are burnt with frost, Whose clustered fruit must else be lost— For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
I was inspired by some of the work of photographer Kenneth Josephson after seeing one of his images in Harper’s Magazine. His book The Light of Coincidence is a terrific collection of his work, and while browsing through its pages, I find we have similar aesthetic sensibilities.
This morning I watched as a raven went to great pains to remove this twig from the mulberry tree in our back yard. Why was he so intent on this task, even while being bombarded by an irate mockingbird? When he finally freed the twig from the branch, he held it in his beak for a moment before letting it drop to the patio below him. After a moment or two, he simply flew off. Was he going to use this twig as a tool, but decided to find a better one? After he left, I went outside and picked it up. It didn’t seem suitable for a nest-building project. Bit of a mystery here……
In a neurotic, tumultuous, sometimes violent election cycle that dominates the news, in the midst of the bombardment of robo calls invading our home every single day, it’s a relief to ponder simpler mysteries (simple from my point of view…..I can’t speak for the raven). I keep this twig next to my laptop as a reminder that most of life occurs outside any given news cycle.
Recently, Joe and I were sitting in a golf cart in the middle of a fairway when we saw a cloud of something approaching us. It was a swarm of honeybees. It was almost as if they passed through us because not one bee ran into us or our golf cart though for one, brief moment we were surrounded by them. Both Joe and I had goosebumps after they passed.
Today, I held a fledgling finch I found sitting alone on the backyard patio, looking a bit stunned. At first, I thought he had flown into the glass back doors. His beak opened and closed and his little chest was heaving. He had been sitting in the sun, so perhaps he was overheated. I gently scooped him up in my hands and sat with him in the shade. When he looked like he was perking up a bit, I opened my hands and he hopped onto my knee, looking at me quizzically. I could see some baby feathers still poking out of his chest. Eventually, he flew off into the thick vines that cover the fence along our driveway, a place where finches and sparrows often nest. Later in the day, he and his mom were back out there, the little guy doing his little guy bird dance, begging for his mom to feed him.
It’s always a gift, this rare, intimate connection with the backyard wildlife.