A brightly marked thrush is trying hard to clean its beak against the firm mud at the edge of the frozen dahlia bed, stopping now and again to look up at me through the window, or when it is distracted by bits of food. I wonder how much soil it takes in along with the worms it consumes, and if it notices the varying tastes of clay and silt and loam, the presence of minerals, and of leaf mold and manure. Does it have a favorite garden in the neighborhood, a favorite yard?
It has been a calm, quiet day between storms. The next rain is expected to be accompanied by high winds. Such is November weather west of the Cascades, frost one day, mild temperatures the next, windy, then calm. The birds know what’s ahead, the squirrels, and the spiders; it seems humans are the only ones who are ever surprised, despite there being so many signs. I have met many over the years who really do not know which way the wind blows, what a south wind promises, what a north wind brings, what an east wind portends. And they have been just as oblivious to the signs of the times. Their opinions are recycled, coming by way of others, and are held in lieu of firsthand observations. They are wearied by their own thoughts, which are like scabs never quite allowed to heal. More than anything, they need to sing, and to clean their beaks in the mud.
November 11, 2020
A downy woodpecker, a pair of flickers, sundry nuthatches, scrub jays, robins, bushtits, a varied thrush, an Audubon warbler, starlings, crows, and others in between — these were our visitors yesterday, and not one of them rang our doorbell or asked us to sign anything. They were the bells. They were the signs. They were the weather, the atmosphere, the movement, the pace, and the mood. And for some strange reason, I just remembered the metronome atop my dear piano teacher’s grand piano, near the west-facing window in her spacious, old-fashioned, ground-floor living room. A bit of vineyard, and Road 96 beyond. Sparrows and blackbirds. Mockingbirds. Buzzards and pheasants. Jackrabbits three feet tall. A 1956 gas-powered Ford tractor waiting in a patch of dry weeds. A country salon. Barcarolle. The hush and satisfaction of a little boy she in her Texas accent called Mr. Bill.
Recently Banned Literature, March 28, 2018
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