Sunday, May 15, 2022

Bird Walk

 

A further coincidence of pigeons occurred in my reading on p. 113 of The Comforters by Muriel Spark: "Soon a pigeon flashed out from its high loft and descended to the seat beside her. She folded the thin paper into a tiny pellet, fixed it into the band on the silver bird's leg, stroked its bill with her brown fingers, and let it go. Off it flew, in the direction of Ladle Sands."

Speaking of pellets, I went on bird walk today, and while we did not see the great horned owl in Ewing Park, we did 1) hear its call and 2) see its pellet the under its tree, containing a mouse skull, fur, and feathers. Our fearless leader, Given Harper of the local branch of the Audubon Society, held the pellet in his hands for us. We also saw a bald eagle flying (gliding) high above and far away, heard flycatcher and titmouse, and saw a migrating pair of black-billed cuckoos (I saw one in motion; others saw the pair in binoculars on branches). An early-morning birder had seen a kite. We saw a different kind of kite stuck in a tree, and plenty of broad winged hawks.

Earlier, as we walked through Hidden Creek nature preserve, truly "hidden" in town, in a residential neighborhood and just off the hiking trail, we saw an indigo bunting (vivid blue), Eastern pee wee (olive breast), and Eastern screech owl, red head poking boldly out of its screech owl box to observe us. I was mesmerized. As we walked, we passed a bench with yellow fabric roses tied to it, and a plaque. It was for Bill Morgan, my friend who died this spring. I sat down and put my arm around him, sort of. Lovely, lovely day. Bill would have enjoyed it, too.

Speaking of coincidences, Ali Smith introduced this particular edition (pictured at left) of The Comforters, and I just read How to Be Both, by Ali Smith, in the St. Lucia eyes-on-a-stem edition (pictured above). I love reading, and now I love birding. Both! 

Neither of these covers is the edition I am reading. The other coincidence is plot. The Comforters, written in 1955 and published in 1957, has a metafictional component, where a character is hearing voices and a typewriter tapping and realizes she's a fictional character in a novel. Just like Stranger Than Fiction, a movie I love with Emma Thompson, Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, and Queen Latifah! I can't wait to see what happens!


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Wild Columbine

My wild columbine is all abloom! And the lily of the valley has begun. It is in various stages, depending on the part of the yard it's in, so I hope there is still some of it blooming for my daughter's wedding on May 28! Likewise, the white anemone, just now showing its buds. The wild columbine is all that salmon and yellow color. I also have some dark purple columbine blooming in a side yard, and more columbine on the way, plus the large yellow columbine that will bloom later. Waiting for the blue spiderwort now...

Busy times in my body and brain. Attended the funeral of a young co-worker yesterday. Heartbreaking. I loved learning about, and hearing, the country music songs she loved. 

In the afternoon, I helped to pot tree seedlings to be planted in the fall. Part of a big tree-planting surge: 11,000 seedlings (stick stage) were planted this spring. These that have budded and begun to leaf need to wait for the fall. Hot, fun work, in good company, outdoors.

Then, there was a Zoom discussion of Book VII of Paradise Lost with an international bunch of people--mostly Chicago and Canada, but some were actually in Portugal for earlier Books, and some were walking El Camino in Spain while we were between Books. Here is a yellow lightbulb bee guarding the columbine, like 1) Rafael warning Adam not to disobey or 2) an angelic guard at the gate of Eden, alas.

Working on scripts with deadlines and wedding details with meetings with vendors, parking signs, et cetera. Need to take my mother shopping for a dress, but also need to keep track of various medical details for both parents. This morning I need to go get and then put up posters for the summer 10-minute play festival at Heartland Theatre, where both my parents used to act and volunteer (board, committee). Duty + nostalgia.

Last night, cool and pleasant respite at the Next to Normal Story Slam, resumed after 2 years gone in the pandemic. I got to listen to stories of luck, good and bad, on Friday the 13th in an art gallery! And here is a blurry red bee hovering over the blurry blossoms!

Sunday, May 8, 2022

A Coincidence of Pigeons

The collective noun for a group of pigeons is basically "a flock of pigeons" or, in professional breeding circles, "a kit (or kitte) of pigeons," but for my reading-and-blog purposes, it shall be "a coincidence of pigeons," making it a Random Coinciday in the blog!

I've read a lot of books over these past couple of years (and past couple of Covid weeks), but, coincidentally, I just read two novels with pigeons in them: Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets, by Evan Roskos, and Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, by Kathleen Rooney. I had acquired Cher Ami quite some time ago, and it waited patiently in a to-read stack on my coffee table for the exact right moment to be read, and that moment came during my isolation week. In 2018, at the 100th anniversary of World War I, the Great War, the war to end all wars, I immersed myself in lots of WWI reading and movie-viewing, sort of curating a WWI film festival for the library. So I was well aware of the famous carrier pigeon, Cher Ami, and how she saved the Lost Battalion. And also how she was misunderstood as a "he." Hence, the male version of her French name. 

Kathleen Rooney develops all this so beautifully in Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, also giving us a full look at the major who led his men into the Argonne Forest, following orders, and doing it brilliantly and efficiently, thus, accidentally, leading many of them to their deaths or maiming. Alas! Part of the charm of this book is that the chapters alternate in point of view, between the pigeon and the major. It was easy to believe in the way pigeons might "think," how their homing instinct might work, and how consciousness continues--especially if you are taxidermied and live on in the Smithsonian Institution. 

So probably Cher Ami pre-disposed me to pick up Dr. Bird's Advice to Sad Poets, to find out what a real pigeon/imaginary therapist might "say" to a depressed high school boy. Also, sometimes I am a sad poet myself. And I do love this book's cover (see above; at hand is the movie cover). I am glad that the boy also gets a human therapist. I watched a lot of movies over the past few years, but only today did I realize that Dr. Bird was released as a movie in 2021. (You can watch it on Hulu. But I can't.) I liked how the humor in this book ran gently under the depression and family dysfunction, and I loved Dr. Bird!

Here in real life, the sun has come out! I am clearing out gardens, looking at the pink and white bleeding heart and dark lilacs, and birdwatching. Coincidentally, my parents have actual nesting doves at their house!

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Isolation Week

It's been a strange, sort of "lost" week, and it's not over yet, so not even fully lost. I've been busy, reading and writing, resting and drinking fluids, but time keeps folding over itself, like laundry, and drifting away, like lake waves... Despite relentless masking and a double booster, I did test positive (home test), and am in my isolation week before resuming my life in the community. Still writing a poem a day for April, National Poetry Month, and that, too, will slip away...on Sunday, right? May Day is coming.

On my first day of very mild illness, it was 80 degrees outside, and I rested on the glider, wrapped in a comforter, reading, journals at hand for any random poems or diary thoughts. A strong southerly wind blew over me. Out in the yard, my husband, mostly recovered from his own lost week, picked up sweetgum seedpods in the yard. Then it turned chilly for a while...

And now, suddenly, violets are blooming everywhere in the grass! The yellow tulips are fully blown, and the pink just beginning. My dark lilacs are also beginning their fragrant opening. Lily of the valley and hosta are spiking up in their distinctive curls! A little of the two-toned hosta has uncurled, green and white. And where are my celandine poppies? Did they not return this year? But my "library lilies," rescued from a revamp of the library's gardens, have auto-renewed themselves (ha!) and will give plenty of yellow blooms later in the summer. As much of my reading this lost week assures me, nothing is really lost...

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Poetry Sunday

This weekend we celebrate National Poetry Month at my church with Poetry Sunday, a sharing of favorite poems and original poems by members of the congregation. We're a small progressive church, a safe place for all kinds of seekers, and a good bunch. We're in between pastors right now, with guest speakers from all kinds of places, plus us, so, as one of our resident poets, I'm helping out and have chosen poems for all the readings, recitations, and prayers. Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, Christina Rossetti,  James Wright, Louise Gluck. If I'm brave enough, I will also share a recent poem of my own, about the day my dad had a heart procedure.

I'm still writing a poem a day for Lent, and, now that April has begun, another for that, in an annual poem-a-day-in-April tradition. I'm glad I will have a jillion drafts to work on all year, plus the handwritten poems in a notebook that keep surprising me by even existing.

Also reading a lot of poetry, as usual, most recently Self-Portait with a Million Dollars, pictured above (cover art: Darn by Mary McDonnell) and available at Terrapin Books, here. Part way through Blood Weather by Alice Friman. These two poets will be reading at my local library, via YouTube Live, on Tuesday, May 17, 7-8 p.m. central time! Join us! And the library has acquired these two books. Perfect for our ongoing Adult Reading Challenge, as April's challenge is to read a book of poetry. Beautiful array of them, along with April raindrops, on display on the main floor!

(Cover art for Blood Weather is Memory, by Rene Magritte.)

Our April showers are actual rain, after tiny ice balls for the exit of March. In March I was re-reading The Girl Who Wasn't and Is, by Anastasia Walker, to review it for Escape Into Life. I love my stacks of books to read, and am already set for the Seeley Challenge in August! And ready for the warmth of summer...