Two for Tuesday: Winged

Vaux's Swifts by A Edmonstone FCC
Vaux’s Swifts by A Edmonstone (FCC)


“I would stand caught in perfect balance in the interlight. In inescapable transitoriness I could have dissolved like a phantom into the swift black. I was marked out in peacefulness, and whole. When a dog barked, I started out of my rumination and breathed deeply, salty air, smell of crayfish, smell of damask rose, smell of clove and broadbean. I could smell the first early stars.” ~ Wilma Stockenström, from The Expedition to the Baobab Tree

Tuesday late. Cold, 40 degrees.

Cattle Egrets, Victoria, Australia ed dunens FCC
Cattle Egrets, Victoria, Australia by Ed Dunens (FCC)

I had Olivia overnight and part of today. I an unspeakably tired. I think I was dozing a bit in the rocking chair as she was talking to me. I had tried to get to sleep earlier last night as I knew that I would be up earlier, but as is the case most of the time, I simply could not.

My reading binge continues. I read another book this evening, another in the Pendergast series by Preston and Child, the latest. It was a good one. They went off course a bit with a three-book series about the protagonist’s wife, but this one was back with the mystery and a hint of mysticism. I’m fairly certain that I own all of the books in the series, but they are stored here and there. One day I am going to reread the entire series, first to last. I hate it when a previous book is referenced, and I cannot quite remember what happened.

Anyway, I had these two picked out for last week, but then . . . life . . . ah me . . . (by the way, I hate that my search for images of swifts brought up nothing by Taylor Swift. Argh)

More later. Peace.

                   

The Rescue, by caroline, FCC
The Rescue by caroline (FCC)

Swift

1.

into flight, the name as velocity,
a swift is one of two or three hundred
swirling over the post office smokestack.
First they rise come dusk to the high sky,

flying from the ivy walls of the bank
a few at a time, up from graveyard oaks
and back yards, then more, tightening to orbit
in a block-wide whirl above the village.
2.

Now they are a flock.  Now we’re holding hands.
We’re talking in whispers to our kind, who
stroll in couples from the ice cream shop
or bike here in small groups to see the birds.

A voice in awe turns inward; as looking
down into a canyon, the self grows small.
The smaller swifts are larger for their singing,
the spatter and high cheeep, the shrill of it.

3.

And their quick bat-like alternating wings.
And the soft pewter sky sets off the black
checkmark bodies of the birds as they skitter
like water toward a drain.  Now one veers,

dives, as if wing-shot or worse out of the sky
over the maw of the chimney.  Flailing—
but then pulling out, as another dips
and the flock reverses its circling.

4.

They seem like leaves spinning in a storm,
blown wild around us, and we are their witness.
Witness the way they finish. The first one
simply drops into the flue. Then four,

five, in as many seconds, pulling out of
the swirl, sweep down. So swiftly, we’re alone.
The sky is clear of everything but night.
We are standing, at a loss, within it.

~ David Baker

                   

Eagle Wings by Ricymar Photography FCC
Eagle Wings by Ricymar Photography (FCC)

Eagle Poem

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon, within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

~ Joy Harjo

                   

Music by Gabrielle Aplin, “Salvation”

 

“And they were canopied by the blue sky, So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful . . .” ~ Lord Byron

yellow-lab-goes-sailing

Blue Skies and Smooth Sailing

“Green calm below, blue quietness above.” ~ John Greenleaf Whittier

sunny-day

Today was a good day. Nothing at all special happened, which is part of what made it a good day. The sky was an amazing, cloudless blue, not hidden by any haze. Temperatures were in the mid 70’s, and a light breeze was blowing.

These are the kinds of spring days that we have too seldom in this area as early spring tends to jump straight into summer, with hot, humid days and hazy sunshine. So on a day like today, I took advantage of the gift nature had presented me, and I sat out in the back yard in the warm spring sun. I took a book, but will admit that I didn’t read many pages.

Brett, too, joined me outside, as did the dogs. Corey seemed more relaxed as he sat in a chair outside talking to his mother, something that always seems to calm him. I took the portable CD player outside and put on some tunes, making for an altogether laid-back afternoon.

I will admit that I spent much more time gazing upwards and daydreaming than I did concentrating on my book. If I had to tell someone exactly where my thoughts wandered, I would be hard-pressed. It was the kind of day-dreaming that has no rhyme or reason to it. I just let my thoughts float on the breeze and go where they wanted.

“I never get tired of the blue sky.” ~ Vincent van Gogh

Granted, the morning did not begin quite so peacefully as today was opening day at the park that lies directly behind our house. I was awakened at 8 a.m. to sounds of horns as people vied for parking spaces. Then the PA system came on, and the realization of what day it was hit me right behind the eyes.

I know. If any of my children were playing in the league, I would be full of excitement at the prospect of opening day. However, since we have lived here, opening day has become something to dread: cars parked haphazardly in the park’s lot and up and down the streets, litter in the front yard from people who have no consideration for other’s property, and lots and lots of yelling of  “go, go, go, go.”

You might think that after all of this time I would be used to the clamor, but somehow opening day always seems to impinge upon my reality in the most unpleasant way. Today it was blaring horns early in the morning.

Eventually, the police will come by to ticket the people who seem oblivious to the fire hydrant in the corner of our front yard and the no parking signs on our side of the street. When I try to warn people, they think that I am just being nosy and ignore me, so you’ll have to forgive me if I take some small amount of pleasure when they finally get their tickets.

” . . .the blue sky, it seems so deep, so peaceful, so full of a mysterious tenderness . . .” ~ George MacDonald 

But back to my day: mysterious tenderness . . .

FSE009

We sat there in companionable silence, all of us, lost in our own thoughts. I looked around the yard and realized that the gardenia bush would be in bloom soon, and thought about the lantana that needs pruning in the front of the house.

The Jack Russells spent a lot of time with their noses turned toward the heavens, their eyes closed. I remember when we first got them, as small puppies they would sit in the backyard with their snouts turned upwards and move their heads back and forth slowly, almost synchronized. Their noses would twitch as they caught different scents on the wind.

In our house, we call that action being “sun puppies.” Tillie, however, has not quite mastered the Zen of being a sun puppy. She can remain still for a minute, maybe two, before she is off, ferretting out a ball for someone to throw. From experience I know that few Labradors tap into their inner Zen until they reach about three years old.

My old lab Mokie used to love to sun herself, and in the winter, she would take naps against the sliding door whenever the sun was at its brightest on the rear of the house. Once or twice I have found Tillie by the glass door, and it is a sweet reminiscence.

“Darkly, deeply, beautifully blue” ~ Lord Byron, Don Juan

Later, after everyone had come inside, Corey and I were talking, and our conversation drifted to the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Even though he spends his professional life on the water, and he loves to landscape and garden, I told Corey that I thought that he was more of a fire element, not just because he has a fascination with fire, but because of the qualities of fire: it warms; it is unpredictable and passionate; it can mean death, but at the same time, it can bring forth new life, renewal by cleansing an area for new growth. Fire is an element for those who constantly seek change.

earth-air-fire-and-water

Although my star sign is Aquarius, and I love the sound of water, I think that I am more closely allied with air. Everything about the sky amazes me: the creatures that soar and move through the air, the clouds that can occlude or refract, the night sky with all of its stars. I have even put glowing stars on the ceiling of my bedroom so that on the darkest of nights, I still have the heavens above me.

I find tremendous peace in all of those things, but the one thing that I love to behold in the sky is the mixing of my elements: a thunderstorm in which the rain pours down, the sky is back lit by shooting spears of light, and the air moves through everything, causing the trees to sway, the leaves to turn inward, and the earth itself to run in rivulets.

“I believe that if one always looked at the skies, one would end up with wings.” ~ Gustave Flaubert

wings-in-flightAnd now that evening is here, I find that I still have a smile on my face, something that has seemed to elude me for forever, it seems.

The only thing that is missing now is the sound of the water gently flowing from the pond, but if I am patient enough, that too will happen. Today is the kind of day that so many people take for granted, but I am learning to appreciate better as a result of the greyer days of the past. Tonight I am will lay my head on the pillow and give up my destiny to the fates.

I can feel my steady heartbeat in my chest. I can content myself with the steadfast love of the man beside me, the family around me, and the friends who keep me close in their hearts.

Perhaps tomorrow my worries will return with the force of a tree bending under the weight of winter ice, but that is tomorrow, and I am not going to spoil this day with troubles that I cannot change in the space of one day, one week, or possibly, one month.

I will leave you with the words of the amazing Carl Sagan. There will be more later. Peace.

At a few hundred kilometers altitude, the Earth fills half your sky, and the band of blue that stretches from Mindanao to Bombay, which your eye encompasses in a single glance, can break your heart with its beauty. Home you think. Home. This is my world. This is where I come from. Everyone I know, everyone I ever heard of, grew up down there, under that relentless and exquisite blue.

~ Carl Sagan