As I watch the eagle rise above the bay, I let myself drift out beyond an edge, as though I were moving across the edge of sleep…I am filled with the same disdainful surge that releases him from his perch, feel the strain of air trapped in the hollows of his wings…The eagle sweeps away in great, lazy arcs, drifts against the corniced peaks, and soars up toward the smooth layer of cloud…At three thousand feet, the feathered sails flex and shake against a torrent of wind…I can feel the lash of gusts as the eagle planes above the mountain, gaze through his eyes at the fissured, snow-laden peak, and share the craving that draws him more deeply into the island’s loneliness…I have flown, however artificially, and have looked down over the island and the strait. But I can never know what the eagle sees with those blazing eyes, what are the shapes of mountains and shores amid the maze of detail that leaps into his brain.
There is the eagle’s world, and there is mine, sealed beyond reach within our selves. But despite these insuperable differences, we are also one, caught in the same fixed gaze that contains us. We see the earth differently, but we see the same earth. We breathe the same air and feel the same wind, drink the same water and eat the same meat. We share common membership in the same community and are subject to the same absolutes. In this sense, the way we receive what surrounds us is irrelevant: I have the eagle’s eyes and the eagle has mine.
- Photograph: John de Grooth
- Related Richard Nelson / Eagle Post: Every stub. Every whisker. Every mole. Every freckle. Every eyelash.
The bird cranes his head down to watch me, so the plumage on his neck fluffs out. HIs head is narrow, pinched, tightly feathered; his eyes are silver-gold, astringent, and stare forward along the curved scythe of his beak. Burned into each eye is a constricted black pupil, like the tightly strung arrow of a crossbow aimed straight toward me. What does the eagle see when he looks at me, this bird who can spot a herring’s flash in the water a quarter-mile away? I suppose every stub of whisker on my face, every mole and freckle, every eyelash, the pink flesh on my eyelid, the red network of vessels on the white of my eye, the radiating colors of my iris, his own reflection on my pupil, or beneath this reflection, his inverted image on my retina. I see only the eagle’s eye, but wonder if he sees down inside mine. Or inside me perhaps.
It’s difficult to understand how an innocuous glance out the window could start a cascade of nonsense. But, it did. And it does.
It’s Tuesday. I’m home on a late evening conference call. I see him through the window in the backyard. He’s chubby-cheeked, hanging upside down, and clutching the iron cover of the bird feeder.
My call continued. And so did Chubby-Cheeks. The bird feeder is swinging from the pole. He’s shaking the cr*p out of it. And gorging on prime seed intended for goldfinches. Had I been outside and not two floors up, I would have run the S.O.B. down.
My call continued. I watched him. And wondered how this creature could manage to raise my ire. This man, a college educated adult, 210 pounds (and counting) vs. a foot-long squirrel weighing a pound or two. There he was. Blissfully feeding. And I’m clenching a pencil between my teeth, tasting graphite on my tongue.
The call ended. I ran down the stairs and out the door to find that he had vanished. Squirrel 483. DK: O.
Fast forward to Wednesday morning. I’m heading out the door to walk to the train station.
There he was to my right. Staring at me from the base of the evergreen tree in the front yard. Beady eyes. His under carriage dragging on the grass, belly bursting from the bird seed. [Read more…]
Mile Marker 0:
It’s 4:25 am, and Quiet but for the whippoorwills which break the silence. How do I know they are whippoorwills? Because I like to say w-h-i-p-p-o-o-r-w-i-l-l-s. And because that’s the only way I can work in this beautiful poem by Howard Moss.
And then the whippoorwill
Begins its tireless, cool,
Calm, and precise lament—
Again and again and again—
Its love replying in kind,
Or blindly sung to itself,
Waiting for something to happen.
~ Howard Moss, from “Going to Sleep in the Country,” New Selected Poems
Tireless, cool, calm, and precise lament. Again and again and again.
Not the tireless. Not the cool. Not the calm. But I’ve got the lament part down. And the again and again and again part. And I excel at waiting for something to happen.
GET UP. GET MOVING. TIME TO RUN.
My lips form wwwwhip, wwwwhippoor, and there it is: whippoorwill. Soothing. I repeat it Again and again and again.
There’s magic in the formation of these letters.
Or I’m a circus monkey. [Read more…]
Federal Recreation Lands Photo Contest. Honorable Mention selection for “Wildlife” by Koustav Maity, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Source: Recreation.gov
Eleanor Randolph, NY Times: Kill the Lights, Not the Birds:
As many as a billion birds die each year in this country as they attempt to follow their seasonal routes — flying north in summer months, south in winter. Because many songbirds, sea birds, and other avians rely on stars to navigate, they grow confused by artificial lights. As a result, these birds die in droves as their ancient routes are interrupted by tall, brightly lit, glass buildings.
We can’t unplug the nation for the birds, of course. But bird lovers in New York can celebrate another conversion in their intrepid campaign to dim non-essential lights during the bird migration seasons. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York promised on Monday to begin right away turning off excess lights in state buildings from midnight until dawn as the birds fly across his state. […]
Bright lights once helped define human success, a triumph over the limits and perils of nighttime. Now we know that dimming those lights can mean a different kind of success — the survival of thousands and thousands of migrating birds.
Read entire essay: Kill the Lights, Not the Birds
Photo Credit: wiki commons
It is afternoon — the time of gathering. The long shadows of the day stretch out behind us. I am watching the birds land on the feeder outside our window. Grackles, chickadees, songbirds, and jays. Why have they chosen us? Despite cats, squirrels, noise, human intrusion, they brave everything to return here. I marvel as they make their peace with each other and share this common space…
They take their turns. The songbirds flutter, alight, grab a few grains, and retreat. The jays strut and preen. The grackles swoop down with impunity, take what they will. Far in the background, perched in a small pine tree, the chickadee sits patiently…[and then] swoops in and takes a small grain of corn…The chickadee flutters upward and disappears into the orange glow of evening. She was the last, and now she is gone. But she will be back. They will all be back. Though they have the freedom of the air, they have chosen us.
~ Kent Nerburn, Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life
- Credits: Thank you Susan for photo from backyard, 4pm, April 24, 2015.
- Related Kent Nerburn posts
It soared, a bird, it held its flight, a swift pure cry, soar silver orb it leaped serene, speeding, sustained, to come, don’t spin it out too long long breath he breath long life, soaring high, high resplendent, aflame, crowned, high in the effulgence symbolistic, high, of the ethereal bosom, high, of the high vast irradiation everywhere all soaring all around about the all, the endlessnessnessness…”
– James Joyce, Ulysses
- Image Source: gifdrone
- Quote: Fables of the Reconstruction
- Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
- Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”