Farewell and Not Goodbye

I inserted a new first paragraph in "Back to Basics" several days after I published that blog. So for those of you who haven't read it, I include it again here: "There’s a wonderful old 'Far Side' cartoon featuring a dog, Ginger, and its owner. The owner says to the dog, 'OK, Ginger! I’ve had … Continue reading Farewell and Not Goodbye

After Mary Oliver

We’ll call this an interim blog post. One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, just passed away, and artist and naturalist–and fellow blogger–Jean Mackay, has written a wonderful tribute to her. Please see the tribute below. And click on the link at the end to see the entirety of Jean’s post, which includes examples of her exquisite artwork.

I really can’t add much to Jeans’s words, except to say that Ms. Oliver often wrote about birds. And, as someone else has pointed out, she believed that there was a “very thin membrane” separating us from birds and other animals. This reminds me of words that I shared with you earlier in my post, “Birds Provide a Bridge” (see “Yet More Reasons to Bird”): “Birds provide a bridge into the mysteries of a world the animal in us fondly remembers.”

Let me share with you, if I may, one of Mary Oliver’s bird poems. I chose this especially, and you’ll soon see the reason why.

Little Owl Who Lives in the Orchard

His beak could open a bottle,
and his eyes – when he lifts their soft lids –
go on reading something
just beyond your shoulder –
Blake, maybe,
or the Book of Revelation.

Never mind that he eats only
the black-smocked crickets,
and the dragonflies if they happen
to be out late over the ponds, and of course
the occasional festal mouse.
Never mind that he is only a memo
from the offices of fear –

it’s not size but surge that tells us
when we’re in touch with something real,
and when I hear him in the orchard
fluttering
down the little aluminum
ladder of his scream –
when I see his wings open, like two black ferns,

a flurry of palpitations
as cold as sleet
rackets across the marshlands
of my heart
like a wild spring day.

Somewhere in the universe,
in the gallery of important things,
the babyish owl, ruffled and rakish,
sits on its pedestal.
Dear, dark dapple of plush!
A message, reads the label,
from that mysterious conglomerate:
Oblivion and Co.
The hooked head stares
from its house of dark, feathery lace.
It could be a valentine.

Happy Valentine’s Day. And thank you, as always, for reading.

Drawn In

“My work is loving the world.”

So begins the poem Messenger, by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver, who died this week at the age of 83. Oliver delivered intimate observations of nature and deepened our understanding of life’s essence in few, choice words.

“Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums…”

And though there were no hummingbirds or sunflowers to be found here yesterday, I nevertheless felt compelled to walk down the starkly cold winter road in honor of Mary Oliver and to satisfy my own need to find what beauty might remain along the roadside.

“Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished…”

Standing still in 21-degree weather means mostly frozen fingers. Still, there is no substitute for being present; for being astonished by…

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Back to Basics

There's a wonderful old "Far Side" cartoon featuring a dog, Ginger, and its owner. The owner says to the dog, "OK, Ginger! I've had it! You stay out of the garbage! Understand, Ginger? Stay out of the garbage, or else!" But all the dog hears is, "Blah, blah, blah, Ginger. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, … Continue reading Back to Basics

The Thrill of a Lifetime, Part Two

We're still thinking about our encounters in northern Arizona (not far from the Grand Canyon) with the rarest North American bird and largest North American flying land bird, the California Condor. The Critically Endangered California Condor. If you'd like to learn about how our adventures began, please visit the last 2 blogs, "Under Construction" and … Continue reading The Thrill of a Lifetime, Part Two

The Thrill of a Lifetime

I wrote in an earlier blog, "Back to Flying," about "rusty pilots." Well, yours truly is a "rusty writer." I haven't posted a blog in almost 2 weeks. Yikes! But I have an excuse. My wife and I did, indeed, as planned, go to Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in AZ to join up with the … Continue reading The Thrill of a Lifetime

Under Construction

Dear Readers, Please bear with us as this site is under construction. You'll note that some of our blog posts have a finished and polished look to them and some, well, not so much. But at least now, thanks to Taylor at Maverick Marketing in Virginia Beach, all 33 blog posts, most having just been … Continue reading Under Construction

The Year 2018 in Pictures

What follows are some of my favorite bird and people photographs of 2018. I'm fond of calling these "indicator photos," or photos that indicate the importance, the health, and the vitality of a restored river: the Elizabeth River in SE Virginia. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed creating them. … Continue reading The Year 2018 in Pictures