Archive for the ‘winter’ Category

Call Me Invasive

December 18, 2019

I’ve discovered a new/old wonderment in my sunrises and sunsets:  the murmuration of starlings.

This is what the above photos attempt to capture:  a giant car pool of birds, all of them having arisen from their night roosts and gathering en masse in order to cross the river into the grain fields that will provide them energy to survive.  Raptors are not unaware of the starlings plans, so these long ribbons of birds, foaming like smoke and creating their own microclimates as they wheel to and fro, are also protective devices to confuse predators and minimize loss.

Last Sunday collected along the small town’s streets to watch the illuminated holiday parade.  Strands of lights detailed the local speedway’s monster car float and adorned various farm implements that chugged down the street.  I could smell the diesel fuel from my perch a block away.  Prior to the parade’s start, I watched as volunteers lugged bags of candy intended for the crowd and wondered why people would bother to drive into town to watch decorated flatbeds and grab for cheap candy but they wouldn’t step out each morning and night to gaze up at the masses of birds.

Yesterday I walked to the post office and saw quantities of unwanted candy and discarded wrappers littering the parade route.  Perhaps this trash is similar to the legs and feathers of starlings I’ve been spotting in the past month or so.  People will tell you the European starlings are invasive, introduced by some hapless human during the 19th century, and causing, like many invasive species, a certain amount of havoc in their adopted environments.

I’m not sure who has more to learn about invasive species and their capacity both to captivate and repulse:  the parade spectators or myself.  I can only say I’m still in the running, trying to learn on the fly and continuing to marvel at how much life has to reveal.

ringing in the year: a letter to friends, known and unknown

January 1, 2018
0102180806

the wide, cold Potomac

Happy 2018.  I hope you rang the new year the way you wished to, in the company of one if not more of the people whom you’d like to include in many more joyful experiences as this year unfolds and the northern hemisphere moves into longer, warmer days.

Brr.  The Potomac here is too briny to freeze outright, but what’s fascinating today is that where the water level shallows, the waves, whipped to whitecaps in the center, slow down in a mesmerizing way kinda like those slowed down frames at the end of Taxi Driver.  In trying to describe it in my journal, my mind hit on the word “gravid.”  I’ve never once used it, but upon looking it up (don’t you love a dictionary?), I realized my mind had pulled out from all the clutter exactly what I needed.  Thank god something in there keeps chugging along!

As the most horrible year on my personal scorecard, 2017 just couldn’t end without one last scuffle.  Toward the end of last week I apparently indulged in the borderline-felonious illusion that my father’s wife might want to engage with me on a level other than the platitudinal.  Thus I committed what was apparently a heinous infraction of some invisible rule book by replying to her e-mail with one carefully expressing my recognition & gratitude for her love and support of my father while also noting that my experience with him had been much different.  Apparently this infringed well past her emotional boundaries, and the two of them both issued nasty e-mails to me telling me, with words undoubtedly served up by their separate laptops’ thesauruses, that I was intrusive and hostile.  blah blah blah.  A nice corporate-retirement touch:  they cc’d each other.

One interesting thing arising from this was when I called my mom to talk about it and she divulged a little tidbit from the workup to their second divorce: apparently my father, in his various nasty stratagems to reduce his alimony payments, had tried to float the idea that I wasn’t his child.  Nice.

That’s what I love about my dad’s version of family:  he always wants to have it both ways.  And the world, with all the arbitrariness of its ways, seems willing to let him do just that.  After many decades of searching,  he’s found a wife whose pension & savings not only pay the bills but who believes as fervently in his fantasies about the world & his participation in it as he adheres to hers.  True love.  Sigh!

Anyway, their behavior isn’t particularly upsetting, although at this moment in my life what I would prefer are fewer confrontations and more allies.  However, we don’t get a choice, and I haven’t got space for allies who are INSANE.  What is upsetting, unsurprisingly, is how much it makes me feel my solitude.  So few to turn to and ask, “Is it me who’s crazy or them?”  That was one of the bright spots of my relationship with my sister, another creature suffering the collateral damage wounding of that familial battleground.

It’s my hunch, however, that, just as my writing has allowed my mind better access to vocabulary words, so the work I’ve done on myself (all by myself) has strengthened my discernment to identify what matters to me, what I can accept as my responsibility, and what I won’t.  Jesus, I do hope that this hypothesis turns out to be true.  It won’t solve all or maybe any of my bigger, worldly problems, but if I keep paring stuff down to what I truly need, the baggage will continue to take up less space.  A very important criteria for nomads.

Well, thanks for reading this and sending out good vibes.  I know you’re out there beating back the craziness you’re encountering in your own ways.  That matters.  A lot.

solstice meditations

December 19, 2016

This morning as the dawn began to lighten the sky, I noticed a star bright enough to be noticeable not only in the approaching day’s light but also from inside my warm home. Earlier I’d ventured out to spot the Moon with Jupiter and Spica and knew Arcturus was watching over them too. But I had to guess at what star I was seeing now. I had a suspicion it was Vega, third brightest in our Northern hemisphere, and one of the three stars that comprise the Summer Triangle, that recognizable asterism high in the sky during the short nights of June, July, and August.

As I settled down to meditate, the thought that this could be Vega rising remained. Here I had almost made it to the darkest day of the year. Changes too numerous to recount have occurred over the past 12 months which offer both the opportunity for congratulation as well as for anxiety. Where will all this momentum deliver me? After all my efforts this year and with a deep knowledge of how difficult and draining this work can be, will I rise to those occasions that will be set before me next year and beyond?

My thoughts returned me to earlier in the year when I witnessed another set of familiar stars rising before dawn. As I stood in the cool August mornings awaiting sunrise, I would observe Orion climbing into the sky over Yellowstone and wonder: where would I be when the Earth made a few more revolutions and Orion was no longer haunting the dawn but traveling across the winter nights’ skies?

Now when I go out to hunt for answers in the New Mexico dawn, Orion is slipping low to the west as if exhausted by his long night’s trek. By the end of next April, he won’t linger long before he follows the sun’s setting, but in early August, he’ll return to the dawn’s skies no matter where I might be standing.

So Vega’s promise of summer is a whisper I can hear and feel deep in my bones. It reminds me that time doesn’t only run straight; it also runs in cycles. It reminds me that there are things I do know – the stars; how to recognize beauty and love; how to be patient with myself in order to allow every thing to unfold as it needs to. What wonderful gifts the night skies offer, especially on these long dark nights. They are shining affirmations of how we are connected to the universe, to our human cycles of ritual and tradition, and to those memories of ourselves that lie deep within.

december-solstice