Flying Northeast #AA2716. With Birds.

We pulled away from the gate at DFW 30 minutes late, late Friday afternoon. Not bad. Could be worse.

Exit row, reclining seat. God Bless Shara (My Assistant). We’ve been together 6 years now. This seat, this trip, the car pick-up, managing trip expenses – here and there and there, always just right.

Jet engines on this late model Boeing throb, I’m sitting over the wings. We taxi out, make a slow turn, and then…

The engines shut down, and the Pilot comes on the intercom. No. No. No. Yes.

“Folks, I’m sorry. But there is flow control at LaGuardia. We’ve been advised that the wait could be up to 90 minutes. We need to wait on the runway in the event we get cleared sooner.”

Not a free seat open on this plane. A chorus of groans, a shifting in seats. We settle in. My arrival time, now potentially 10pm on Friday night. Shoulders slump, heaviness sets in.

I grab my smartphone and tap in “P-h-o-e-n-i-x:” (in classical mythology) a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle. 

Let’s skip the funeral pyre part. But, the rest? Bring it on. To rise from the ashes. Live through another cycle. This trip that just won’t end.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday in Phoenix at a firm wide conference. Thursday and Friday with our team in Dallas.

What did you remember?

Was it the Brobdingnagian ballroom at the convention center? Don’t fret, I’m trying to impress. This 14-letter adjective is not in my vocabulary. I googled this too, recalling a word for all things Giant in Gulliver’s Travels.

Was it the speeches? Some, impressed, yes. Some stuck. Others, not so much, and I was grateful for my smartphone. Such a calming, soothing anesthetic, my finger flicking through Instagram photos, blog posts, and irritating Trump tweets. Can this really go on much longer?

But there was a moment that stuck, will stick, will be retrieved at the most unexpected moments later in life, followed by a pause, a smile, maybe a question or two: Why then? How did they get there? Where did they go?

It was during a keynote speech, which would be categorized in the “will stick” category, yet it distracted the entire audience of 1200.

First came the birdsong, before any visuals.

Then came the chirping.

Then came the sightings.


One, and then another, and another. Three or four in this massive conference room.

Sparrows or Finches. Something you could cup in your hand, their soft wings fluttering against your palm.

The keynote speaker cracked a joke, it landed, he stopped as did the audience of 1200, pausing to listen, to notice.

The birds tucked themselves into the ceiling vents, the speaker continued, concluded, and was graced with a much deserved standing ovation.

The conference continued, the moment stuck.

Words, fragments of passages flicker by. I remember this moment, the words tingling. Where did I read it?

I grabbed my smartphone and began to search for a passage, a story, a blog post, a quote, containing, birds, branches, tide pools.

The next speaker came up.

And my search continued.

A blog post?

A passage stored in Evernote?

A podcast?

Apple News?

Google News?

Kindle book?

NY Times?

My head had been down so long flicking through pages I have vertigo. I set the phone on the table, frustrated.

I can touch the words, see them, feel them, but can’t find the passage.

The next speaker is up. I close my eyes and drift away. Tide Pools. Branches beneath feet. Birds.

I lift the phone again and search multiple combinations of words on Google.


Drowning in words, yet the wrong words. Needing just that set of pearls on a string is what I need.

I put the phone down again.

The next speaker steps up.

I’m missing a source. I know I would have saved this. I wouldn’t have let it go. I have this. I do. You do DK.  Who said it? Where?

Three hours later, the Mind (Miracle. All of it.) retrieves the only source I didn’t check. My Instapaper app. I type “branches” into the search bar and the screen lights up.

Mary Oliver.

It was Rebecca Pacheco’s tribute to Mary Oliver in To read Mary Oliver was to slow down and take notice.

“To read her was to slow down, listen for branches cracking beneath your feet, hear birds, observe tide pools, and remember how small yet assured was ‘your place in the family of things‘. Even if you’d never been to these places, you felt as though you might belong there. You didn’t think of yourself as one for prayer, but how you felt when reading her poems might suggest the opposite. I kept her poem ‘The Journey‘ taped inside my medicine cabinet for years: ‘One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began.

I re-read the piece.  Smiled. Satisfied that I found it. And noticed how once again, she has swept me away to a good place.

A quiet place.

Notes: Pic Peregrine @ Your Eyes Blaze Out


  1. It is funny how those phrases linger. There, just there, at the edge of consciousness, the pre-conscious, really. But even in that half-aware state, they give comfort. And Mary Oliver, of course. Who else could it be!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Phewwww!! I celebrate and share your dogged determination to fetch these bones, David. You make us feel normal, and you do it in style! I use the Google Keep app to warehouse these imposing, yet sudden insights, ideas to return to, and references I know I’ll forget!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It is indeed maddening. Sometimes, one just has to give up on finding it, but I’m so glad you did. Mary Oliver was a soft nun in the church of hard Earth. Maybe you should keep one of her books (or more) in your briefcase/personal carry-on. Um, maybe we all should! 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Hopefully your search for the right words and having them bring you peace made sitting on the tarmac more bearable.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Slow doan and take notice … right on target!! … ‘It was Rebecca Pacheco’s tribute to Mary Oliver in To read Mary Oliver was to slow down and take notice.’

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It may have taken three hours to finally find it, but in the end so very worth it. And after all, you had nowhere else to go other than the corners of your mind. Ha … and I wondered why you were liking comments to your posts of yesterday at posts at 10:20 PM EST last night … now I know why. Have a restful weekend, Dave …

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Exquiste. Your words come tight and spasrse, the stacato movemen​​t of your mind captured perfectly. And then the expansion, the Mary Oliver remedy. There has been an avian theme to your writings and posts lately. Every evening, for the last couple of months, a Great Horned Owl comes to the tree outside my bedroom window and calls all night. He or she swooshed over me as I stood on the upstairs porch looking at the Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Love those birds moments … before the frantic searching! A metaphor for life perhaps?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. There, you had me…. breathless, holding my quivering ❤ firmly between my hands, searching with you, sweating slightly over not finding (I actually cancelled a comment to Karen because not even for my life, I could cite a book title I wanted….. lost 45′, gave up.) Author or quote…. Frustration taking over and remembering this morning! But YOU did it. You found Mary, I’m still searching for my guy”….
    I wd just like to know WHAT you’re doing with your daily life. HOW can you use yr smartphone, read blogs, mail and check out Ig accounts when sitting in a room with 1200 others and not pay attention?….
    Aah the maddening inability of not being able to find THAT grain of wisdom, witicism.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Oh, I know that feeling. That “What’s that from?” feeling. So frustrating. And then such a relief when you find it and know you’re not losing it after all. Well … maybe only a little bit… 🙂 but that’s allowed.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. You have captured the feeling of that *thing* juuuustt beyond the reaches of consciousness, like that grain of sand in the oyster…irritating, irritating, irritating, and then bam, like the oyster, you produce a pearl. Bravo!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Spirit Bird, yet?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. and what a frenzied journey you made to get there )

    Liked by 1 person

  15. ” Boeing 757″
    I kinda alluded to that back on 1/7,,, “Big Aluminum Bird” (at least that was my thought, thou I wasn’t exactly clear )

    Me: “The photo is an attention grabber…love the Euro Starlings markings…where ever you land and exit the Big Aluminum Bird perhaps when you arrive at your hotel there will be a pretty courtyard where you’ll see & claim your Bird Spirit for the year…”
    You: “Smiling. I’ve yet to see my Spirit Bird. It might be sitting and waiting to arrive at just the right moment.”

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Well worth the search. Love this passage from Mary. But in the end it will not be words that we seek, but rather a sense of belonging, a deep connection, and a way home to our soul. 🙏🏻 💚

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Your Frank LaRue Owen quote with this line: “it’s like a new saddle on a fresh horse” made me think of an obit I read yesterday…a good looking 24 year old with 3 degrees who loved the cowboy life, was helping out at the family ranch and working at a western store where he was a saddle maker and blocked and steamed cowboy hats (not many that can do that job) passed much life ahead of him, sad he died…though he did what he loved and he Sat High in the Saddle…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m.always blown away at how you just seem to capture these snippets or quotes or poems out of thin air. Kind of a relief that sometimes you do have to work a little harder at retrieving them (even if you are supposed to be paying attention to various speakers…)

    Liked by 1 person

  19. See where birds can take you. To a calm place. To Mary Oliver. Loved it and thought of my trip to LGA last week…not a single bird to bring calm. Now back home and setting off w/ Mr. D. to look for them.

    Liked by 1 person

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