Posted in Air, Autumn, Bench Writing, Earth, Eastern Shore, Fire, Mindfulness, Nature, Photography, Quotes, Spirit, Walking & Wandering, Water, Wonder, Woods

Murmurations

A seat on the dock
A seat on the dock

We can speak without voice to the trees and the clouds and the waves of the sea.  Without words they respond through the rustling of leaves and the moving of clouds and the murmuring of the sea.

~ Paul Tillich

Swooping over the trees
Swooping over the trees

From the Bench Chronicles.  (Yesterday, sitting on the dock.) What a lovely day!  The bench is warm, like sunlight, and the water looks blue and cool, like the sky.  Crows are flying and cawing overhead, and a Little Bird is moving around in the phragmites behind me.  Little Bird is cheeping and chirping.  Perhaps she’s asking how I am today, so I chirp back and that seems to satisfy her.

Shimmer, sparkle, and ripple.
Shimmer, sparkle, and ripple.

The tide is high, but moving out and the water looks oddly inviting.  I have this silly urge to dive in and float wherever the water takes me. Instead, I sit and stare at the small ripples and wavelets made by the wind, and let my mind drift off with the tide.  Little Bird flutters in agreement with the decision to mind-travel rather than go for a swim.

On the move
On the move

There must be thousands of starlings somewhere in the marshes.  I can hear them, and if their numbers are not in the thousands, they make enough noise to sound as if there are thousands.  Lift off!  There they are, off in the distance, over the trees.  Sound carries well here.  I thought they were closer.

Reed in the marsh
Phragmite in the marsh

(Later in the day, from the bench on the platform.)  I moved closer to the house in case the Electrical Guys have any questions.  I like sitting up here, above the marsh and under the big oak tree.  The starlings moved again, too, or else it is another flock.  Murmuration, they’re called.  I like that word.  I wonder who came up with the name “murmuration?”  Standing under a flock of starlings while they’re on the move, the subtle sound of their wings does make a murmuring sound so the word is a good one.

Sunlight in the oak
Sunlight in the oak

The wind rustles through the leaves, and the starlings are chattering again.  And then, all of a sudden and for no apparent reason (although I’m sure they have a reason), they all go quiet.  The chattering doesn’t trickle off with a few stragglers still whispering in the back row.  Every one of the birds stop at once.  I find that as amazing as their flight when they do their synchronous swirl in the sky.

Taking a walk
Taking a walk

After a while, I put away my journal and leave the platform to go work in the little cemetery.  Clouds drift by, some small and fluffy, some big and dark.  I hear another large murmuration of starlings to the north of me, nattering, warbling, whistling, and chattering.

Meanwhile, back on Earth...
Near sunset in the cemetery

The sky darkens as the birds are again silenced all at once.  Perhaps the Head Bird gave the signal to shush.  I look out through the “window” in the woods, an opening where you can see the meadow from one of the grave sites.

The "window"
The “window”

A few seconds later, there they are, the starlings, a quiet murmur of wings overhead.

Murmuration
Murmuration

Have you ever stood directly under thousands of starlings as they swirl in the sky?  It’s the most amazing thing.  My heart soared and swooped and swirled with them.

Meanwhile, back on Earth...
Meanwhile, back on Earth…

It was a wonder-filled day, all in all.  I am grateful that the electricians were here all day, allowing me to spend the day soaring with starlings.

Yesterday's sunset from the dock.
Yesterday’s sunset from the dock.

Thank you for stopping by and visiting yesterday with me.  I hope your day brought you some wonder and amazement.

If you’re interested, there’s a great article about why the starlings fly as they do at the Cornell All About Birds website.  It’s called A Darwinian Dance, and I love the way author, Grainger Hunt, describes a murmuration of starlings as “a dazzling cloud, swirling, pulsating, drawing together to the thinnest of waists, then wildly twisting in pulses of enlargement and diminution, a fluid choreography of funnels, ribbons, and hourglasses, spills and mixing, ever in motion.  Dense in one moment, diffuse in the next.”

Orange glow
Orange glow

Be good, be kind, be loving.  Just Be.  🙂

Cedar silhouette at sunset
Cedar silhouette at sunset
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Author:

Robin is a photographer, artist, writer, wife, sometime poet, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, friend, and occasional traveler currently living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She finished a 365 commitment to get outside every day in 2011, and has turned it into a lifelong commitment taking one or more walks each day. Robin will continue to share her walks through her words and images on Breezes at Dawn. Older posts can be found at Life in the Bogs, her previous blog. Robin and her husband are in the midst of renovating the house and property they refer to as the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, 35 acres that include marsh, a dock on a tidal creek, meadows, and woodlands. Every day brings new discoveries.

25 thoughts on “Murmurations

  1. Like you, I adore the word “murmutations.” How cool is that!? I had never heard it before now. I also love the idea of your writing chronicles from the bench. That would make a great name for a book! Love your thoughts today. The bench is doing well by you–or, maybe it’s the other way around. LOL

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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    1. I think it’s the other way around, Kathy. lol! We have several benches on the property that are still in good shape (we also have several that are not), and taking the time to sit and write has been an interesting experiment. The only drawback is that the scenery can be distracting, but what a great distraction it is. 🙂

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  2. What a nice post.What a lovely day. I like “back to earth” but the bench looks so serene and would be such a wonderful place to watch and listen to murmurations – thank you for sharing.

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  3. A beautiful post, Robin. I took a semester seminar on Paul Tillich in college and many of his words and thoughts remain with me to this day. This quote was new to me, so a special thanks 🙂 I have always loved the idea of murmuration – the word itself is beautiful and the sound of the swallows more so. This is one of my favorite videos of a murmuration (skip to about 40 sec.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRNqhi2ka9k. Synchronistically, I just finished a presentation on my Penn’s Woods project and spoke about the magic and wonder of nature’s sounds. Thanks for a beautiful and affirmative post, Robin.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. 🙂 I’ve seen the video before, but watched again because I enjoy it so much. I think I like the girls’ reaction almost as much as the beautiful flight of the starlings.

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  4. I have experienced the murmuration! It is an amazing thing. I had to pull over my car to a near by parking lot one day when I saw it happening. I’m sure I blogged about it, and I have a very grainy video because it happened as the sun was going down. Sounds like a really enjoyable day, with lovely photos to go with it.

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  5. Robin, what a joy to sense how you are synchronizing so beautifully with the rhythms of so many “recent” acquaintances…the trees, leaves, flowers, skies, waters, birds and their magical mumurations… it really is such a joy to see you resonating with so much beauty around you.

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  6. Hi Robin. Catching up on your posts after a week travelling. I love the idea of the Bench Chronicles. The starlings come through our property every year about the same time. When it happens, the trees are alive with birds for a moment or so and the sound is magical, as you’ve said. Jane

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Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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