Ornithography

visitorA light snow last night,
and now the earth falls open to a fresh page.

A high wind is breaking up the clouds.
Children wait for the yellow bus in a huddle,

and under the feeder, some birds
are busy writing short stories,

poems, and letters to their mothers.
A crow is working on an editorial.

That chickadee is etching a list,
and a robin walks back and forth

composing the opening to her autobiography.
All so prolific this morning,

these expressive little creatures,
and each with an alphabet of only two letters.

A far cry from me watching
in silence behind a window wondering

what just frightened them into flight —
a dog’s bark, a hawk overhead?

or had they simply finished
saying whatever it was they had to say?

by Billy Collins

Chickadee by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Two black-capped chickadees perch in a shrub in Olmsted Falls, Ohio Friday, Jan. 8, 2010. Another blast of winter weather is forecast to bring additional snow to Ohio's lake shore areas Friday and into the weekend. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Then piped a tiny voice hard by,
Gay and polite, a cheeful cry,
“Chick-a-dee-dee!” saucy note
Out of a sound heart and merry throat
As if it said, “Good day, good sir!
Fine afternoon, old passenger!
Happy to meet you in these places
Where January brings few faces.”

Winter Ramblings ~ Solstice Celebration

And so it arrives today, the first day of winter. The wheel of the year turns the old Earth towards the sun once again. Hail the precious seconds at dawn and dusk when our great star creeps back into our daily lives. The dreary darkness gives way to the light. The return of the light ~ Winter Solstice.

unnamedThe day is calm and warm. Snow and ice cling to the earth already. The harsh frost filled morning melts into a tranquil afternoon. On this day, celebrate simply with an offering of seeds and suet to the birds. Enjoy the blue jays, morning doves, juncos and sparrows. Welcome the chickadee and finch. Give them a free meal today. In remembrance of the Earth, put out a simple feast of cake and wine. A little something to thank her for all she gave us this year and all she will give next.

At this time of year, I always remember Thoreau and his reflections from Walden Pond.

“For sounds in winter nights, and often in winter days, I heard the forlorn but melodious note of a hooting owl indefinitely far; such a sound as the frozen earth would yield if struck with a suitable plectrum, the very lingua vernacula of Walden Wood, and quite familiar to me at last, though I never saw the bird while it was making it. I seldom open my door in a winter evening without hearing it; Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoorer hoo,” Thoreau, Walden: Winter Animals.

How pleasant to pause in the yard and hear the nuthatch ambling up the maple tree. The grey squirrels take their graceful leaps and bounds searching for food. The sun watches all low on the horizon. The river twinkles in the distance through the trees. A blessed place this is to take a rest. Now is the time for reflection on what has past and what is now and what is yet to come.

barn-owl-in-snowCelebrate the simple life at home with the creatures of the earth and sky. Make a sincere offering of thanks. Stay warm, stay well and blessed be.