Posted in 40-Day Challenge, Air, Change, Critters, Earth, Eastern Shore, Exploring, Gifts, Grandparenthood, Gratitude, Home, In these strange times, Life, Maryland, Mindfulness, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Pond, Spirit, Spring, Walking & Wandering, Water

A Monday meander: Poetry and birds

Sunrise in the kitchen, resting on the late bloomers.

How to Be a Poet

i

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

ii

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

iii

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

~ Wendell Berry

Wading.

There are many variations of herons, including bitterns and egrets.  Storks and cranes should not be confused with them.  Herons are part of a group of birds called “waders.”  It is a bird of the marshlands and shallow waters.  All waders have similar physical characteristics — long, thin legs, long necks, and sharp bills.  These physical characteristics are important to understand for those who have a heron as a totem.

Legs enable animals and people to move about on the earth.  They are symbols of balance, and they represent an ability to progress and evolve.  Also the longer the legs, the deeper the water the heron will feed in.  The deeper life can be explored.  The long thin legs of the heron reflect that you don’t need great massive pillars to remain stable, but you must be able to stand on your own.  This is especially significant for those with a totem of the great blue heron, as it is a lone hunter.

When it feeds, it stands in the water, reflecting a connection to the earth — while implying the exploration of other dimensions on the earth (water element).  It is important for anyone with a heron totem to explore various activities and dimensions of earth life.  On the surface, this may seem a form of dabbling, but those with heron totems are wonderfully successful at being the traditional “jack of all trades.”

This ability enables them to follow their own path.  Most people will never be able to live the way heron people do.  It is not a structured way, and does not seem to have stability and security to it.  It is, though, just a matter of perspective.  There is security in heron medicine, for it gives the ability to do a variety of tasks.  If one way doesn’t work, then another will.  This heron people seem to inherently know.

~ Ted Andrews, Animal Speak

Fishing.

White-tailed deer, particularly the doe, remind me of my mother.  There are stories about that here on this blog, somewhere, and on my old blog.  The stories relate to her illness (cancer) and death, but they end with comfort.  Deer medicine.  A feeling that Mom is somehow there when I need her.  Or maybe it’s just the reminder of her that is there when I need her.  In either case, it is a form of medicine for the heart, for the soul.

The Great Blue Heron, however, often reminds me of myself, as if Heron is there to teach me about something if only I’d pay attention.  I’ve always felt that way about them.  I have no physical resemblances to a heron.  I’m short, my legs are not long and thin.  But I do dabble and have been referred to, from time to time, as a “jack of all trades” (which, if you know the full saying, you realize means you are “master of none”).  I appreciate other dabblers, those willing to explore whatever captures their attention, to go down different paths that sometimes few others are willing to hike.

Resting a minute.

One day last week while M and I were eating our lunch, three Great Blue Herons came by to visit the pond and do a little fishing.  One would land while another sat up in a tree for a few minutes before flying down to chase off the heron in the water.  Just as the heron in the water was flying off, another came by and sat in a tree before repeating the entire procedure.  This activity was probably a discussion about territory and fishing rights.  I’m not sure who won the dispute.  Maybe they came up with a timeshare agreement.

Another wader.

Today an egret and a great blue heron were sharing the pond.  The heron tried to get in the egret’s personal space but the egret just kept walking, as if to remind the heron that we are practicing physical distancing right now and he should get with the program.  The heron seemed surprised that the egret didn’t fly off, and then appeared to shrug in a birdlike way while going about his business, moving in the opposite direction.  Last time I looked, they were both still out there, fishing different sides of the pond.

Striking.

Today is day something of the 40-day self-care challenge.  Day 30, I think.  How are you?  Seriously, how are you?  I am genuinely interested.  I hope you are well.  I know there are some going through some really hard times, dealing with some very deep grief.  I am thinking of you, holding you in my heart and thoughts.

I don’t know if counting the days serves any real purpose now.  It seems to me that this is an activity (or group of activities, in my case) that needs to be kept up on a regular basis, preferably every day.  For the record, I did a HIIT workout this morning followed by my yoga and meditation practices.  A friend recommended the CD Songs From the Bardo, and I listened to that this morning.  It made my meditation very… interesting.  It is a guided journey through the Tibetan Book of the Dead.  Here is the Smithsonian’s description of it:

Songs from the Bardo begins with a bell ringing out once, twice, three times, as a ritualistic chant emerges from the dense silence. The collaborative composition by avant-garde icon Laurie Anderson, Tibetan multi-instrumentalist Tenzin Choegyal, and composer and activist Jesse Paris Smith is a guided journey through the visionary text of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, unfolding in an 80-minute ebb and flow of sound and words. Songs from the Bardo is a transporting experience, meant to draw the listener into the present moment and provide a framework for inner exploration. Anderson, Choegyal, and Smith fuse modern compositional techniques with the mystique of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy to make these visionary traditions more accessible to a new generation of listeners and to reveal the ancient wisdoms contained within.

~ Smithsonian Folk Ways recordings

At the back of the pond.

It was a tad bit agitating at first, to listen to a meditation about dying.  That changed eventually, to something almost soothing.  I was reminded of a small part of Wendell Berry’s Sabbaths, 1979, IV:

Ruin is in place here:
The dead leaves rotting on the ground,
The live leaves in the air
Are gathered in a single dance
That turns them round and round.
The fox cub trots his almost pathless path
As silent as his absence.
These passings resurrect
A joy without defect,
The life that steps and sings in ways of death.

Do I seem a little morbid today?  I don’t mean to be.  Just contemplating life, death, the universe, and everything.  Perhaps it’s the weather.  It’s raining again.  Tomorrow, they say, it will still be raining.  Spring is like that.  April showers, May flowers, as the poems and songs go.  Earth, water, fire, and air combining in a resurrection of leaves and flowers, some digging themselves up out of the ground to reach the light and air.

Prayer flags, sending their prayers out with the wind.

Thank you so much for stopping by today and visiting with me.  There won’t be much to see at sunset this evening, but if it’s not raining, I will go out to the dock to see what’s happening.  Maybe I’ll meet some ducks, another heron, a river otter, or the bald eagles who like to fish the creek.  Sunset is scheduled for 7:44 PM.  You’re welcome to join me if you wish.  A rain coat and wellies will probably be a good idea.

Be safe, be well, be kind.  ♥♥♥

The dogwood yesterday, when the sun was shining.

A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy:  1,371)  Dogwood blossoms (bracts).  They always look so delicate and graceful.  1,372)  A Zoom birthday party for the Little Wookie.  Yesterday was his birthday.  I thought it might be sad to celebrate via the internet, but it wasn’t.  He was so very excited to see both sets of grandparents along with some of his aunts and uncles and cousins.  His excitement ruled the day.  We were all smiles, every single one of us, watching him as he welcomed us, blew out his birthday candles, and opened his gifts.  Everything excited him.  He took his time, appreciating every bit of it.  1,373)  Drawing balloons for birthday parties.  1,374)  A slow, relaxing kind of rainy day.  1,375)  Just being.  Thank you.

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.

18 thoughts on “A Monday meander: Poetry and birds

  1. Accept what comes from silence. Now there’s a line that I like to read. Too much noise on social media for me right now. I’m grooving on silence at home and sunny spring days. I feel like I’m at a retreat in some respects. Very introspective.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love that line too, Ally, and often feel the same way about being at home — enjoying the silence, the beauty of spring, and feeling a little like I’m on a retreat.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh ho!! I have long been very attracted to herons – there is something about them that fascinates me and I have built up a connection and understanding of them from having shared two places with them over the years. Before I came to my tiny house here in the city nine years ago, I used to live in a bay of our inner harbour. There was a reedy, marshy area beside my place and a bank that went down to it and if you followed that along you came to a small gravel beach where the waters of the harbour bounced about as the tide came and went. I would sit on my little Juliet balcony after work or in the mornings at the weekend and watch as my cat, Orlando, took himself off for a walk down to the marsh. He would disappear from my sight and reappear a bit later wandering along the tide line on the gravel beach accompanied by a heron or two. They always seemed to be perfectly at ease with each other and I was entranced with this amiable meeting of birds and cat. Ted Andrews description describes much about me – except of course, like you, physically. My legs are neither long nor thin and I do not have the stature or grace of a heron – being physically more duck like than anything else I can think of at the moment 🙂 I’m beginning to think I should get a copy of this book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the story about Orlando and the herons, Pauline. Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I often wondered how cats react to such big birds. It’s an interesting book with information about things other than animals and insects. There’s a section about different landscapes and what they might mean, the directions, the elements, even numbers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve now got a copy on order Robin thank you for that further impetus 🙂 I don’t think O saw them as birds – it’s hard to say of course – but I always had the impression they had met up somewhere and wandered along together amiably for a bit. He was a bit of a hunter in his younger days and I often retrieved a (small) stunned bird held remarkably carefully in his jaws and released it again – much to his disgust…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a lovely post and you have such an array of fauna in your neck of the woods. I am supremely jealous. It must be so wonderful to be able to sit and wait to see what shows up.
    Since you asked, I, and my boys, are doing surprisingly well. The eldest is really starting to go stir-crazy but I keep reminding him, in the long run, it will have been worth it. At 22 I don’t think he is particularly impressed. As you know, I cook like I haven’t cooked in a long time and we get to sit as a family every night. A treat for me as, once everything goes back to the new normal, evening shifts will prevent this happening except on special occasions. I’ll grab it while it is.
    Happy to see you and M are taking it all in stride and doing what needs to be done to get through this insane time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Dale. 🙂 In stride? I’m not sure M would agree with you on that one. He probably thinks he’s living with a crazy lady lately (or maybe he knew that all along…lol!).

      I’m glad to hear you and your sons are doing well. I can only imagine what it must be like for young people who are not always known for their patience. Then again, neither are some people my age (given what I’ve seen about protests here).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! Everything is relative…

        My eldest is going crazy, the younger is already a couch potato/gamer so for him, what’s the problem? 🙂

        The protesters… Jeeez

        Like

  4. I’m beginning to thing I need this book as well. Your writing about the deer reminded me that I think of my father whenever I see a blue jay. I dream of herons and think they always bring a message, so I can see why you think it’s there to learn from.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely post, Robin. There is something about embracing death that helps us live, I feel. We are certainly experiencing the death of life as we knew it. Perhaps in the moments of mediation and contemplation, we will discover within us the life yet to unfold. The meditation sounds intriguing. Happy Birthday to Little Wookie! Such joy…children. 💕🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Carrie. 🙂 I’ve passed on your Happy Birthday (because the Little Wookie always enjoys an extra Happy Birthday or two). I agree about embracing death. It takes some of the fear out of both living and dying.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful writing about the heron and the egret. I have a friend who, like you, is drawn to herons. Something about them speaks to her just as they speak to you. So far, Clif and I are well. We worry about our New York City daughter. But right now, anyway, she is well. Hope the same is true for you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve been gardening A LOT this past week, except for the day of snow and waiting for it to melt. A bit creaky after months of inactivity, but so grateful to be out ‘doing my thing.’ It is a refuge from the woes of the world. I tend to push it early on while the temps are cool and before the bugs come out. Tomorrow we’ll get rain, so I’ll get a rest. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I came in with quite a few bug bites yesterday, Eliza, so it looks like the season of biters has arrived here. Today was not a good day for them, though, since it’s relatively cool. Being outside is my refuge from the world, too. I don’t know how I’d handle any of this without the opportunity to be outside.

      Liked by 1 person

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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