We Enter Trembling

It seems, what, inappropriate to enter a room and talk of anything inconsequential during these days of such consequence. So much of the events of our current days are being deemed unprecedented. But, what of the act of living, the fact of being is precedented? Just as each hexagonal snowflake is different from each other hexagonal snowflake, each moment we live and breathe and think and talk and hope and be is like no other. It can’t be helped. And thank God. There are so many moments that should not be spent again.

Unlike snowflakes, though, our moments, our selves, are sentient, and we can learn and we can teach, and we can understand, and we can try to understand, and we can help to understand, and we can shape-change, of our own volition, not just because, like for snowflakes, of temperature or touchdown. Perhaps because of touch, because by being we are touching others — physically, emotionally, intellectually, sensibly and insensibly, sensitively and insensitively, wisely and unwisely, honestly and dishonestly…. Never think you don’t matter. You do. But also, never think you don’t have impact. You do. We are each responsible for our acts, and for our responses–their tone, their direction, their intensity, their intent. You can hurt me, but I am not yours. I can hurt you, but you are not mine. Ever.

Shift in gears.

Yesterday I took a long walk, passing along the shores of two rivers that bisect this city, and intersect with each other within this city’s limits. The Concord River flows north into the south and east flowing Merrimack River here. Along the Concord River, which is of a higher water level than it was a couple of months ago, but still low, I saw no birds, not even a stray mallard. Along the Merrimack River I saw a community of mallards! I also saw a glaucous gull (one of the definitions of glaucous is “of a light bluish-grey or bluish-white color”. I find it an unpleasant word to fit my tongue around, and wonder at its choice, its origins*), which, I was told by a birder who was photographing as I passed, is uncommon here. And I saw a community of common golden-eyed ducks-males sharply black and white, females sharply deep brown and white. Both with golden eyes, and quite attractive. They winter here, and summer further north.

Unlike mallards, the golden-eyed dive underwater as they fish for food. The mallards only “dabble” — they stick their faces in the water, and their butts glow above.

*Glaucous came to English—by way of Latin glaucus—from Greek glaukos, meaning “gleaming” or “gray,” and has been used to describe a range of pale colors from a yellow-green to a bluish-gray. The word is often found in horticultural writing describing the pale color of the leaves of various plants as well as the powdery bloom that can be found on some fruits and leaves. The stem glauc- appears in some other English words, the most familiar of which is glaucoma, referring to a disease of the eye that can result in gradual loss of vision. So here it is defined, but it still tastes unpleasant to me to say. This leads to another subject, which I venture to sometimes but will not pursue today, why languages range so widely in their component sounds and in their incidence of sibilance and of clicking or tapping when spoken. And why some languages pile on the consonants, and some roll out the vowels. Ponder if you wish.

A final brief entry. The other day I was walking in the neighborhood and was stopped by this waltzing pair. In my mind I alliterate and call them waltzing willows. But must acknowledge that accuracy requires me to let you know that they are maples. Nevertheless, they are dancing, don’t you think?

May you find promise where you look, and fulfillment where you are.

And So This is December 24th 2020

For many of us it is celebrated as Christmas Eve. For many of us it is not a celebratory eve. But here is what it is, a day, 24 hours, winter in the northern hemisphere, summer in the southern hemisphere the third shortest day in the northern and the third longest day in the southern. Imagine if the earth suddenly upended. You’d think that we’d all be suddenly standing on our heads. But! But no one is right now, and half the globe is upside down from the other half, no? Yet we are all standing feet to the ground heads to the air. Here is the mystery of gravity.

How many mysteries are there in life? This pleases me. I like the freedom to explore that not-knowing gives. And I like this about mysteries, they are greater than us. And I hold to that this season while I celebrate Christmas.

And every place on earth has its own sources of things to wonder about, many of them to celebrate. Every square inch does. And somebody has figured out one thing, say-why there are pines with three needles per bunch and pines with five needles per bunch and pines with shorter or longer needles; even, say-the molecular content of a grain of dirt, and somebody else who doesn’t get it about pines or dirt or even care, has figured out how to look at another person’s facial expression and know just the right way to respond, and someone else knows why a rosemary plant can be stored all winter either in the ground or a cool place (depending on what planting zone you live in–another wonder!) while a basil plant cannot overwinter. Why do some birds nest in treetops and some in brush?

And why am I curious about this nest and not the mechanics of an automobile engine?

Can someone tell me how Stella, who was napping upstairs, knew that the squirrel was caching nuts in the window box outside my window, and came down here to sit on my desk and see? (This was a few days ago, pre-current snowfall, all 12 inches of which, by the way is melting right now as I type. Why?)

I finish today’s post with this poem by James Joyce. Written in 1932, and is said to celebrate the birth of his grandson and to mourn the death of his father.

Ecce Puer
Of the dark past
A child is born;
With joy and grief
My heart is torn.

Calm in his cradle
The living lies.
May love and mercy
Unclose his eyes!

Young life is breathed
On the glass;
The world that was not
Comes to pass.

A child is sleeping:
An old man gone.
O, father forsaken,
Forgive your son!
James Joyce

Ecce Puer is translated as: behold a young boy

And I share a Christmas wrapping picture (and I notice that Stella got into this photograph too!):

It is December and it is snowing

two statements that belong together, this title. It seems it has been awhile since two elements that belong together are. Since any kind of alignment has existed. It is December and it is snowing. It is life and there is hope. It is love and there is life. All good.

At last.

May this continue.

It is a copper beech and it is thriving (photo taken May 2020)
And now, it is December and it is snowing (and I am clearing the snow off my car, for what reason, I don’t know because it is winter, and, happily, I am mostly walking.), and after completing this task, another two inches of snow covered all. It is December in New England after all and it is snowing.

It is air and it is breathable. May this be so as long as there is air may breath be taken. May our respiration be safe.

I find I don’t have many words today after all. But I wanted to put my hand in. Perhaps before December closes, before 2020 is a history, I will find more words and will share them. For now, one final balance:

It is coffee, and I am drinking it.( One of the stablest pairings I can offer.)

REMINDER!! Don’t forget, those who know, and mark it down, those who are just learning this–We are fast approaching the night of December 21st, when in the southwest sky here in the Northeast, two hours after sunset the planets of Jupiter and Saturn will be located so close to each other in the sky that they will seem like a bright star; first time in hundreds of years and last time until 60 years from now. You will be able to see it with your naked eye. Better with binoculars. Even better with a telescope. And December 21st is only the best night, December 18th through December 23rd are all nights on which you can look, and if the sky is clear, see.

I walk and sometimes I am buffeted and sometimes I can fly

My shoulders released a yoke I never knew was burdening them.

These days have been curious.

I have bicycled with gloves, a scarf and a wool jacket one day and a jean jacket thrown open two days later. I have bicycled in stillness and sun and have pedaled with all my might into headwinds, that, no matter which direction I turned from the route I was headed including about face, still seemed to be opposing me. The wind is a trickster. The wind is always ahead of me, and yet I am shoved at from behind, thrust at from the left and from the right, with no object about to accomplish this but the wind, invisible but for the particles it lifts and hefts.

kmmm,/****************************************************************************************************************8

Those are Petey’s comments. I thought I’d keep them in since he seemed quite adamant in his delivery.

In the beginning of this year during which we are spending most of the time physically isolated from the each other, I noticed a proliferation of neighbors walking their dogs. For several months I noticed this. And reports are that, indeed, lots of people went and adopted a pet. That is good! The incidence of neighbors walking their dogs seems to have lessened of late. Why? Too, my neighborhood is largely one of properties that have yards, ranging from postage stamp size to large enough to have a second house constructed on the property. And a substantial number of them have been constructing fences around their lots. So, doing some reasoning, I am thinking that many of us have become enervated by this enforced diminishment of public congeniality (only 10 people allowed at one time in a private house-what happens with my friend, Jack’s family of 14 children(?); no more than 25 persons at a time in a 1000 square foot restaurant; pick up your library books outside the back door during a specified hour call when you get there during your appointed hour and a librarian will bring it out, hang it on the door handle and go back in, then you may collect it, and bring the books home to read; no going to the cafe to have a coffee and baked good and leisurely read because you are allowed 45 minutes-tops! to linger), and dog-people have chosen to open the back door and let the dog run around in the fenced-in outback, rather than bother to rise from before the screen/monitor, clothe themselves in outside-appropriate garb and step out. This is purely my conjecture!! But no one is entering my house to refute me, and neither am I entering theirs to defend my hypothesis.

So the wind. Today I walked 7 miles into its face. It was projected. It is a day that my weather app says, temperature 50 degrees farenheit, feels like 43 degrees farenheit. Weather app. Who’d have thunk? Twenty years ago I laughed behind my hand at a friend’s husband who clicked the remote onto the Weather Channel several times in a day. In those days I would rise in the morning, after listening to the weather report on the radio, promptly forget what I just heard, and dress according to the season. I now do not go out without two or three times rechecking the weather app that comes with my “mobile device”. I tell myself it’s because I am going to be out there for a good length of time. When has that not been the case with me? I’ll tell you — never! So apps; cartoon clouds and raindrops, puffy clouds with or without an arc of sun and three rays poking out; instant temperature reports–you got me. And if I were to adopt a dog, well, the house we bought 14 or so years ago came with a fence around much of the backyard. I’m all set, thank you.

Here’s a poem by Vikram Seth.
With no companion to my mood,
Against the wind as it should be,
I walk, but in my solitude
Bow to the wind that buffets me

And here’s one by A.A. Milne
No one can tell me,
Nobody knows,
Where the wind comes from,
Where the wind goes.

It’s flying from somewhere
As fast as it can,
I couldn’t keep up with it,
Not if I ran.

But if I stopped holding
The string of my kite,
It would blow with the wind
For a day and a night.

And then when I found it,
Wherever it blew,
I should know that the wind
Had been going there too.

So then I could tell them
Where the wind goes…
But where the wind comes from
Nobody knows.

So as not to sit on the blues that I have saddled you with in this particular post, here is a picture from a week ago of predominant yellow. I love yellow.

Emergence

Last week, at the predicted predawn morning of greatest activity for the Orionid meteor showers, a handful of us entered a richly dirted, well treed, five acre place, that includes a spacious “lawn” in which to stand, twirl, and stargaze straight up to the sky with views unhindered, or, if you choose, through the web of nut tree branches — hickory, black walnut, red and white and black oak, as well as sweet gum and black gum — and over a waterway that right now is rife with grasses and muds way more than waterbody, thus not a place to reflect the lights of the heavens.

As it was, this night, this early, early morning, the greatest activity for Orionid meteor showers night/morning, was pasted over in cloud. There was and would be no sky lights to see, even the 7:06AM sunrise occurred unshone. But it did not matter. The peace of darkness lifting into light with no audible nor visual disruption even though on all edges of this land were homes, a supermarket, an urban arterial, and just down from the access road, a major hospital. Even though all these trammels abided adjacent, we were not of them, we were not among them, we were not theirs, if only for these two hours in late October in northeastern Massachusetts.

And at 6:40AM a single mallard called out from the pond, one loud Honk! Two seconds later, maybe three, two warblers began to burble just in front of me, then a robin, and a cardinal over to the left, and redwing blackbird, and then a song sparrow, and then a mockingbird, and a crowd of sparrows all at once talking, clanking their lunch pails, thrashing amid the shrub that surrounds the nut trees in whose presence I then stood. The stillness was history, and to be awaited for its return in, oh, say 17 hours from now. But who can mind such a songfilled replacement to silence? I stood, enchanted, a vine entangled in one lock of my hair, the ground firm, the light soft, the day rising in its own time and at its own pleasure, and to mine.

5:20AM
5:20 AM
5:40AM
5:45AM
6:00AM
6:30AM
6:45AM
7:00AM
7:01AM

I drove home, wishing I were on my bicycle; next time, I promised myself, fed the patiently waiting cats, saw that Mark had slept through my going out and my coming back (good thing, because he had been sleeping poorly for several days), brewed myself a cup of coffee and let rest of the day crowd in.

We were told that the Orionid meteor shower will occur at that predawn hour through November 7th with a little less intensity each day, but motion-filled nonetheless. Perhaps a clear night will occur in these 8 days up to that morning and I will go outside at 5:00 AM and stand on my street and look up with hope, or maybe I will go outside at 4:45 AM and make my way back to that once a upon a time farm, now wildland, and sit on the ground that in places is so dense, prehistorically dense that no tree can inch its roots through, so dense that it is a meadow in a wood, a wood that sways and soughs on the meadow edges, its back to disruption, its back a bulwark for this place.

_____________________________________

A friend of mine, who never fails to speak of something of interest told me this cosmological information:

Upcoming during December will be a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. This is an event that was known to occur  approximately every 400 years; however it paused or hid and has not occurred visibly since 1226. Yes, the year twelve hundred and twenty six, nearly eight hundred years ago.

The time schedule to watch this phenomenon progress and finally culminate is:

45 minutes after sunset look southwest, and

-on December 4, Jupiter and Saturn will be visibly “close” (2 degrees apart)

-on December 16-18 they are almost touching

-on December 21– they appear to the naked eye to be “one”

My friend tells me that with even a small telescope, (e.g. an 80 mm refractor) you are likely able to see and differentiate them to some degree. I haven’t got a telescope, so I will see what I can see with my trusty binoculars. 

Here is Jupiter on left, courtesy of a Hubble Space Telescope photograph, and Saturn on the right, courtesy of NASA.

__________________________________________

God ever knows what I never
know so, God, I know in you
is all before and after me and all
is near even when far

Venerability

There is so much, there are so many in this world who have merited and achieved venerability.

There are so many who have not, who will not.

I will, on this gratefully rainy day, write of delight in the impomposity (new word?) of older trees, in particular tulip poplars. The one of which I have written before in my town, one that I have been photographing for a number of years now as it has declined in health and robustness, but never in stature, is no more. I bicycled past its spot a few weeks ago and behold! there was nothing but mulch, dust, a few shards of bark, and one flower. All else had been cut, sawn, ripped, and carted away. Here is a late in life photograph of this tree dying from time’s passage, land’s diminishment, man’s malignment, air’s loss of breath.

My old beloved tulip poplar in July 2020. (To say that 2020 is not a good year is to understate)

But about two weeks ago, my sister and I visited an area that is well populated with stands of elderly, stately, venerable trees including scarlet, black, pin, and white oaks, mockernut hickories, shellbark hickories, sweet gums, beeches, some sassafrass, one or two magnolias, two spindly but growing american elms, a few sugar maples and a sycamore or two, and a whole community of tulip poplars, including one estimated to be about 400 years old.

400 year old Tulip Poplar
The bark of an aged Tulip Poplar
In situ
Tulip poplar leaves, trunk, and behind them one of two highways flush against their woods

The home for all these wonderful breathers and givers of life is flush against two major highways and a puzzle of urban streets on which houses are being replaced with HOUSES.

The home for all these wonderful trees is a respite for any one of us who happens by and wittingly or not deep breathes air that has life, even as in our personal and corporate industry we wrest it of its every molecule.

But speaking of homes, a different “tall” tale:

A neighbor of my sister’s gave me a huge baggie of sunflower seeds from I think just one sunflower that grew in front of her house in NYC. Some I will roast and shell and enjoy. Some I have stored in an envelope, named and dated, and stored in a dark space for planting in the deep brown earth outside my shed, a spot that basks in sunlight practically from sunrise to sunset. And it is a space

that is eminently visible to my busy bees, they need make only a slight left in their departure flights to afar, or, even more efficiently, send a contingent from the designated local foragers (those that do not zoom up and over the driveway, but rather spin around in constant infinity loops in the back yard within feet of the hive) Why have I never thought to plant these flowers there before? Oh, I know. There are a passel of raspberry canes there, which I am and have been removing for the past couple of years, as they do not succeed in providing berries, only in procreating their canes and overpowering all in their vicinity. So after 11 years of no luck, I chose to quit, but it is a years and years long effort, as their procreation of canes is prolific and their roots run long and strong under every possible surface. So I will replace removed, perennial raspberry plants with annual sunflowers to accompany the annual wildflowers I already began sowing among the removed and to-be-removed canes two years ago. Assuming success, the bees, the finches, the starlings, the chickadees, the titmice, the cardinals, the white breasted nuthatches, even the sparrows, bluejays and grackles will be happy to feast on those towers of yellow. See me next August, perhaps I, too, will harvest some of those seeds and can share.

I will finish with this from A. A. Milne’s When We Were Very Young

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn’t any
Other stair
Quite like
It.
I’m not at the bottom,
I’m not at the top;
So this is the stair
Where
I always
Stop.

As September declines

As September 2020 dries and dries here in New England, the world squirms in discomfort at myriad new, largely unwanted events. We pine, even as we separate from each other in our theories of why, who, what, what next, what was. History, just current events yesterday, a minute ago, has as many eyes, as many versions as there are sentient beings on this planet.

The weeping Gray Birches out front are dropping golden leaves like dust. The Concord River, cutting through downtown to meet up with the Merrimack River, is barely a body of water. I watched a great blue heron the other day slogging through the muck that is the bed of the river where two canals usually drain into it. The heron had to work to raise each foot to move forward in search of errant fish. For 20 minutes I watched, and saw no captures, just slog, slog, stop; slog, slog, stop.

I am sorry to be writing such a blue blog post. I am sorry that there is cause to.

But another impression, oddly heartening: yesterday I was pedaling along a major state numbered roadway (3A) also known, in the area I was pedaling, as Middlesex Road. It carries constant vehicular traffic including many trucks. It is not the pleasantest route to bicycle, but along it are occasional surprises that bring delight. One, well, one was an old cemetery, perhaps 90 feet wide by 50 feet deep, surrounded by a stone wall. I walked my bicycle through an open gate straight through to the 50 feet to another open gate that let out onto a small woodland. I leaned the bicycle against a sugar maple and tiptoed into this woodland. I got about 30 feet in and stopped. Several cardinals, a finch, and I think a robin were talking, calling from different corners within the woodland ahead of me. And beneath their treetop calls, the sugar maple, pine, ash and shrub tree woods were a silent breath.

Eight feet behind me, consistently audible, was the road traffic. But before me, and surrounding me was this woodland breathing.

It was lovely.

Do you know, that is all I want to say today.

Thank you for reading.

They work as if I were not here

Do you see the pollen on their legs? Oh to light on a sunflower and come away laden with life sustenance.

I was walking to the mailbox to send a card. My phone was in my pocket–gone are the summer days when we would walk empty pocketed, wandering possibly anywhere and unconnected to any satellite beam, unwatched. Maybe, if were “grown-ups”, we would have folded a couple of singles and a five into our shoes. A neighbor, several houses down, had lined their property with sunflowers. A week and a half earlier they were just green stalks, pretty indiscernible from the tall privet hedges with which they share the property edge. Now they had not only burst forth, they were giving out seeds, some having already distributed all they had.

And who do I see there? Bees!! Bees of all stripes, my hive’s residents sharing surface with bumble bees and perhaps others of their community. Look, look, they’re making a beeline!

Do you see them? Each flower has or is receiving bees on this beautiful late morning in August. What a gift!

I want to thank these neighbors for planting so many sunflowers. But I do not know them. This is too bad, that I stop myself from knocking on their door. I can attribute it to the ongoing virus. But I have been enjoying the ways in which they use their green space for several years now. How many of us know our neighbors these days? How many of us have any familiarity with what occurs just outside our front stairs? Our back porch? Our back window? Beyond the fence, the hedge, the wall that demarcates our side from another’s? Nevermind the people down the block, or one or two floors below or above us.

I could be an old fart and grouse that it’s only these past couple of generations who do not know, raised, as they have been, on keyboards and computer screens, even when outdoors, as their heads are bowed to the pittance of a screen on their handhelds. But let us confess, we are almost all of us limited in our awareness of what immediately surrounds our living spaces. We are more attuned to what is broadcast for us on one or another screen than the space through which we pass, or could easily pass, if we ventured forth. I remember the delight I experienced 20 or 25 years ago when I could pull this little pocket phone out of my pocket and call my sister as I walked down the sidewalk! How cool is that!! I can call her and describe to her where I am walking right now! So quickly it became I need to call her right now, this call cannot wait until I am back home, this call to ask what date is so and so’s birthday, demands to occur now, nevermind the patch of wildflowers I am passing by laden with bees dipping and delving, doing their remarkable life-giving pollinating before my very eyes, if only I looked, instead of poking at the numbers on my electronic device. This call, this distant contact about unurgent matters matters more than this moment here now.

So I need to stop, need to look about me, breathe, listen, touch the textures at hand, lick the salt of sweat off my upper lip. Put the phone back in my pocket. Stand still, watch the bees, watch the sunflower petals riffle in the breeze. When I set myself back in motion, to make it slow (hard for me! it is easier to stop short and peer around for a bit, than to amble at a pace below three and a half to four miles per hour), and notice what surface I am treading, what sits at the edges, who is standing at their front door ready to say hello to me if I will say hello to them.

One more capture of the bees loading up on pollen, whether I am watching or not. And of sunflowers that are finished sharing, and sunflowers yet to open and provide.

Here are a couple of photographs, hard to see her, but look carefully–a great blue heron in, due to our current drought, a low water pond. I stood and watched her for about 20 minutes, and then I couldn’t stand still any longer; I just had to move on (:-)) She had been there before I had arrived, and she remained standing there after I left. She preened feathers, aired out her wings, scratched under her chin, preened again, and paid close attention to the terrain. She stayed in place. Attending.

scratching her chin
then noticed and immediately set to watching something in the distance

May your day bring delight.

Happy birthday, Todd.

Silence

Can you say you have ever experienced complete silence? Do you believe one can experience complete silence? Do you know if it exists? As what, a concept, an audible absence-external and internal, only external? I will stop offering options for what I am asking it is, because by them I am skewing your response. I go back, and rephrase just slightly. Can one know if complete silence exists? How?

I go forward and re-ask again slightly differently, if you know complete silence exists, where, how do you find it?

Is it felt? How?

Is it calming? Does it cause fear? Peace? Anger? Freedom?

I come back, can silence even be a concept? Is it a presence? An absence?

Sometimes I can walk down a New York City street and become aware that I have not been hearing the always massive-decibel sounds surrounding me, neither original sounds nor echoes, neither mechanical sounds nor human. Why? Has a shawl of silence draped itself around me? Is noise, perhaps, only a function of attention? What does that say about silence?

When you think of silence, do you think of it as lightness? Do you think of it as weight?

Can sound be felt? Can a thrumming inside one’s head, seemingly inside one’s ear be called sound? If so, does this make silence impossible?

And, if so, can someone without the physical capacity for hearing experience sound, feel sound?

Does motion mean sound? Therefore, in life, is silence even possible? Blood flowing through our veins and arteries, constantly; organs tugging their needed sustenance out of resting or passing food stuffs; breath even held still circulating in the lungs in the vessels in the molecules–not silent?

Something just occurred to me as I sit here pondering silence “out loud”, two things actually–when you read this text, do you hear a voice? Whose?

Secondly, it seems that silence can be visual. See this picture? This guy at this moment in the presence of a rushing river, chattering and squawking gulls behind him, chirping songbirds behind me, and automotive traffic behind them; this guy embodied silence and it took my breath.

Napping Robin

Unphotographed, but closely watched, through fairly new binoculars through the kitchen window, as I sat, eating my lunch at 1:00PM this humid, hopefully soon rainy day, was a young robin. She looked, it seemed at me for a few seconds, then turned her head left responding to a sparrow who had landed further along on the very branch on which reposed said robin. The sparrow, as sparrows do, immediately leapt off the branch toward another spot, angling his way toward the bird feeders, currently well populated by other sparrows. One sparrow does not care if 10 other sparrows are at the feeder, he shoulders in when he is ready. Everyone squawks and everyone shifts.

The white breasted nuthatch announces her arrival from the west, about a tenth of a second before she lights on the sunflower seed feeder. She lands or redirects to nose-down, everytime. Her long, sharp beak pokes into the grid, she yanks out a sunflower seed, and rushes back to the tree face to jam the seed in and then repeats this procedure, three or four times before she pauses her flights, likely to then poke the tree bark against the sunflower seed tucked underneath it using that broader push surface to force the seedpouch open the the seed to fall out, and she, the nuthatch to consume it. Meanwhile, the sparrows are flicking and flacking each other from feeder to feeder, variously clutching and falling off of perches, and fluttering their wings to regain balance. On top of the shepherd hooks from which the feeders are suspended, are several immature sparrows, with two more on a back branch of the dogwood, all feverishly flapping their still kind of tiny wings and calling to the adults, feed me, feed me! And they do. Child opens wide, and adult places seed in gullet to be swallowed and used.

There is also a parent-child downy woodpecker pair appearing daily, usually in the morning early and then at noon. The child, whose crown is brown, and so I think may be a male child, waits clinging to the thistle feeder, while the adult/mother pokes at the gross (to me) suet in its feeder, digs an ample chunk out and brings it to the child, 6 inches away or so on the thistle feeder. Here too, the child opens wide, and the adult sets the food morsel deep into its mouth. They repeat this five times or so and then fly away for a bit, to return 5 or 10 minutes later.

Sometimes in the morning, sometimes at lunchtime, sometimes in the evening, these days, the cardinal father and child pair arrive. The child either perches on the lip that encircles the sunflower feeder, or on a branch of the dogwood, and the father, brilliant red and in full voice between tasks, pulls out a sunflower seed and places it into his child’s mouth, again and again.

But this young robin, today napped so assuredly eyes tightly shut, not even cracking a peek once it tired of watching me watching it. The sun gentled her head and shoulders. Her tail, two u-shapes at their gathered bottoms; her wings draped alongside her, like a shawl falling from her shoulders. She was lulling me into a parallel ennervation, when from a ways off to her right side a cheep, one loud cheep struck her ear. Her eyes flew open, she turned, and she flew off the branch straight at that sound. And I was seeing only a branch, around which she had easily curled her long slender toes and dozed.

As noted at the top. I have no photographs of these goings on. Nothing to visually accompany my tale of today’s lunchtime antics. I hope you can picture them in your mind. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.1

So here are two photographs I just took while sitting on the porch (when I come out onto the porch it takes the birds about five minutes to adjust to my presence and return, whence they had hastily departed upon my interfering arrival)–the four feeders around which these birds all congregate with a few branches of the dogwood to your left; and the beehive that remains ever active behind those bird feeders.

You will notice, in the top photograph, the voracious sparrows have finished today’s complement of seeds in the plastic-sided, tubular feeder

As I type this right now, thunder is rumbling in the distance. Our hope is for it to evidence rain this time. We remain green so far, in our trees with their deep, deep swallowing roots, and shrubs, and the bushes that feed our fragrant pink and red roses and the stalks that hold orange lilies, white daisies, pink, yellow, white, blue wildflowers; but our grasses are brown and beige. We are not accustomed to such prolonged evidence of dry here in New England. Happily not.

1Hebrews 11:1