Miracle. All of It.

My eyes graze his binoculars and without a word he passes them over. And like that the birds are no longer smudges, but elegantly detailed and purposeful and real. They steal my breath as they always do, these creatures who think nothing of having wings.

Charlotte McConaghyMigrations: A Novel (Flatiron Books, August 4, 2020)


Notes:

  • Photo: Cormorant. Spirit Bird. Sept 7, 2020. 6:48 am. The Cove. Stamford, FT
  • Back Story: Walking. In Search of my Spirit Bird.
  • Post title Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Sunday Morning

I asked him what he thought it meant for our lives, for how we spend them, for what they mean. He said our lives mean nothing except as a cycle of regeneration, that we are incomprehensibly brief sparks, just as the animals are, that we are no more important than they are, no more worthy of life than any living creature. That in our self-importance, in our search for meaning, we have forgotten how to share the planet that gave us life. Tonight I write him a letter telling him I think he was right. But that also I think there is meaning, and it lives in nurturing, in making life sweeter for ourselves, and for those around us.

— Charlotte McConaghyMigrations: A Novel (Flatiron Books, August 4, 2020)


Photo: Sparks by Christine Lynch

It’s like an eggshell, only much tinier, much more delicate.

I’m holding the skull of a baby wren. I found it this morning in one of the nests in our yard, right down the back in those willow trees; I think its parents must have left it there when it died. Discarded. Or maybe they waited with it as long as they could. It’s like an eggshell, only much tinier, much more delicate. It barely fits on the tip of my pinkie finger. I keep thinking about how easy it would be to crush. It reminds me of her. But not of you. You are made of a different thing. Something far more enduring. I never saw that thing you spoke of, the one that was missing from the stuffed birds in my lab. I see it now, or its absence. Your absence has never felt crueler. I’ve never hated you until now. I’ve never loved you more.

Charlotte McConaghy, Migrations: A Novel (Flatiron Books, August 4, 2020)


Notes:

Sunday Morning (So Help Us God)

The Arctic tern has the longest migration of any animal. It flies from the Arctic all the way to the Antarctic, and then back again within a year. This is an extraordinarily long flight for a bird its size. And because the terns live to be thirty or so, the distance they will travel over the course of their lives is the equivalent of flying to the moon and back three times…

(They) ask questions about the birds. How do they know where to go? Why do they fly so far? Why are they the last, why these ones, what makes them luckier than the others? I don’t know the answers, not really, but I do my best and, anyway, it’s not really answers they want, it’s simply remembering what it feels like to love creatures that aren’t human. A nameless sadness, the fading away of the birds. The fading away of the animals. How lonely it will be here, when it’s just us.

Charlotte McConaghy, Migrations: A Novel (Flatiron Books, August 4, 2020)


Photo: Phil Gower of an Arctic Tern

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