Walking Cross-Town. With a greeting party.

Yesterday. 3 a.m. I’m laying in bed, in darkness, exhausted. Eyelids, like anvils, won’t close. Won’t shut.

I’m swimming in Marina Benjamin’s head: “my head is lit up…like an out-of-hours factory…whirring generators flip on…lining up tasks in a shoulder-shoving queue…mostly I just fret, worry-beading problems and irritations…forming a manacle of woe.”

I have a 10 a.m. meeting in the city, an important meeting, with important people. The meeting is 7 hours away, like almost a full working day away, yet, I’m prepping. You need to sleep Friend, you will run out of steam by 10am.

It’s the 5:38 a.m. train to Grand Central. I can’t sleep. Can’t read. Can’t focus. I close my eyes and thoughts spin in a whirlwind, and then stop. Meditation. I’ve quit. It’s been three weeks. The app sits in the phone in my hand. The meditation prompts are a few clicks away. My fingers re-grip the phone. Now, do it now. You could use it now.  [Read more…]

the miraculous, every day in winter, not 15 feet from my window

red-birds-at-feeder

To the Editor:

Re “The Solace of Birds in Winter” (Op-Ed, Dec. 15): I am smitten with my backyard birds. What is it about the industrious little souls leaping delicately about my tray feeder that so lifts the spirit? Their spunk? Their equanimity no matter the weather? The variety in their eating habits?

Mourning doves plunk themselves down in the center of the tray to chow down. The red-bellied woodpecker grips the edge and won’t yield his position. The chickadees and nuthatches take a seed each, one at a time, to a nearby branch to nibble.

A chickadee weighs less than half an ounce. Its coat of feathers, half an inch thick, keeps its tiny body at about 90 degrees even when the air temperature is zero. It is this, then, that takes my breath away and is the source of my affection — the miraculous, every day in winter, not 15 feet from my window.

Margaret McGirr
Greenwich, Conn.

New York Times, Letters, December 17, 2018


Photo: Project Feeder Watch titled “See Red” by Stephen & Judy Shelasky, Longmeadow, MA. 4 male Cardinals, a Red-bellied Woodpecker and a little sparrow checking out a female Cardinal as she flies into view.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

When the night slides under with the last dimming star
and the red sky lightens between the trees,
and the heron glides tipping heavy wings in the river,
when crows stir and cry out their harsh joy,
and swift creatures of the night run toward their burrows,
and the deer raises her head and sniffs the freshening air,
and the shadows grow more distinct and then shorten,
then we rise into the day still clean as new snow.
The cat washes its paw and greets the day with gratitude.
Every day we find a new sky and a new earth
with which we are trusted like a perfect toy…

We are given the wind within us, the breath
to shape into words that steal time…
Yet holy breath still stretches our lungs to sing.
We are lent for a time these minerals in water
and a morning every day, a morning to wake up,
rejoice and praise life in our spines, our throats,
our knees, our genitals, our brains, our tongues…

We are given passion to rise
like the sun in our minds with the new day
and burn the debris of habit and greed and fear.
We stand in the midst of the burning world
primed to burn with compassionate love and justice,
to turn inward and find holy fire at the core,
to turn outward and see the world that is all
of one flesh with us, see under the trash, through
the smog, the furry bee in the apple blossom,
the trout leaping, the candles our ancestors lit for us…

Let silence still us so you may show us your shining
and we can out of that stillness rise and praise.

~ Marge Piercy, from “Nishmat in “Available Light


Notes: Poem – Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo: Marta Navarro

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all. 

E. O. Wilson, in an interview in 1992, is an American biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist and author. His biological specialty is myrmecology, the study of ants, on which he has been called the world’s leading expert.


Photo & Post: Northern Carmine Bee-eater photo by Mike Wilson.  Thank you Dan via Your Eyes Blaze Out (via San Diego Zoo)

A good memory moves me through the current

I hear birds and whispers
Like water gnawing a hull

I build a fire
In the bottom of my boat
A good memory moves me through the current

Frank Stanford, from “If She Lives in the Hills,” What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford

 


Notes: Poem: via Vale of Soul Making. Photo (via The Guardian) by Cherry Kearton in 1890s: Dartford warbler and chick on Richard Kearton’s hand: ‘By the exercise of a little patience I tamed the adult female until she would at last alight on my hand and feed one of the fledglings, at rest on my wrist, without the slightest sign of fear or nervousness.

 

Sunday Morning

Let’s ease in softly on a pretty day. Spring came to New York this week after a month of gloomy cold and drizzle. The sun was out. Monday afternoon just before dusk there was a bird outside my window, all by itself and singing so loudly—byeet-byeet-chur-chur-chur. Over and over as if it had just discovered its voice. I was emailing with a friend, your basic hard-bitten journalist, and told him what I was hearing—it sounded like the beginning of the world. He wrote back not with irony but with the information that a band of baby rabbits had just taken over his garden and were out there hopping and bopping: “They are so excited to be on earth.” This struck me as the most important news of the day.

~ Peggy Noonan, What Does This Moment Demand of Us? (wsj.com, April 26, 2018)


Photo: Vivienne Gucwa with New York City in Spring

I heard and then began to feel, in my chest, a deep rhythmic whooshing

A few years ago in a forest in northeast India, I heard and then began to feel, in my chest, a deep rhythmic whooshing. It sounded meteorological, but it was the wingbeats of a pair of great hornbills flying in to land in a fruiting tree. They had massive yellow bills and hefty white thighs; they looked like a cross between a toucan and a giant panda. As they clambered around in the tree, placidly eating fruit, I found myself crying out with the rarest of all emotions: pure joy. It had nothing to do with what I wanted or what I possessed. It was the sheer gorgeous fact of the great hornbill, which couldn’t have cared less about me.

The radical otherness of birds is integral to their beauty and their value. They are always among us but never of us. They’re the other world-dominating animals that evolution has produced, and their indifference to us ought to serve as a chastening reminder that we’re not the measure of all things. The stories we tell about the past and imagine for the future are mental constructions that birds can do without. Birds live squarely in the present. And at present, although our cats and our windows and our pesticides kill billions of them every year, and although some species, particularly on oceanic islands, have been lost forever, their world is still very much alive. In every corner of the globe, in nests as small as walnuts or as large as haystacks, chicks are pecking through their shells and into the light.

~ Jonathan Franzen, from Why Birds Matter, and Are Worth Protecting (NatGeo, January 2018)


Photo of Great Hornbill by Roham Sheikholeslami

Miracle. All of it. (110 sec)


“The art of flying is a short film about “murmurations”: the mysterious flights of the Common Starling. It is still unknown how the thousands of birds are able to fly in such dense swarms without colliding. Every night the starlings gather at dusk to perform their stunning air show. Because of the relatively warm winter of 2014/2015, the starlings stayed in the Netherlands instead of migrating southwards.”

“The Art of Flying” by Jan van IJken


Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


Source: Cherly Jong (Jakarta Pusat, Jakarta, Indonesia)

 

 

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


Notes:

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