Posted in Air, Change, Covid-19, Critters, Earth, Eastern Shore, Exploring, Fire, Gifts, Gratitude, Heartfulness, Home, In these strange times, Life, Mindfulness, Nature, Perception, Photography, Quotes, Spirit, Spring, Walking & Wandering, Yoga

The red-winged blackbird

Perched in a pine.

Hope is roving gypsy
With laughter on her tongue,
And the blue sky and sunshine
Alone, can keep her young;
And year by year she lingers
Under a budding tree
To join the red-wings’ chorus:
On-caree!

~ Dora Reed Goodale, 1902

Watching.

The blackbird has long been associated with omens and mysticism.  Its color, alone, has evoked both fear and promise.  Although called a blackbird, only the males are black.  Females usually have a streaky, brown plumage.

… Another variation of the blackbird is the red-winged blackbird.  This bird has a red path on its wings, with a dash of yellow as well.  These colors connect this bird to the level known as Binah in the Qabalistic Tree of Life.  This is the level associated with the Dark Mother and the primal feminine energies.  This bird has ties to all of the creative forces of Nature.

… If the blackbird has come into your life as a totem, you will open to new surprises and to a new understanding of the forces of Nature as they begin to migrate into your life.

~ Ted Andrews, Animal Speak

Blowin’ in the wind.

Other meanings for the red-winged blackbird include speaking your truth, being firm but kind-hearted, and drawing out your inner beauty.  Red-winged blackbirds are, in some places, associated with the return of spring.  They flock together by the thousands, hundreds of thousands, blending in with other subspecies, during the winter months, teaching us about unity and strength in numbers.

Blackbirds have been a prominent feature around here lately.  Since I last mowed the lawn, we’ve had small gatherings of them come to eat whatever it is they eat after the lawn has been mowed.  Crows, too, have shown up a lot.

Entering the shadows.

One of the things about lockdown is that it gives a person plenty of time to mull over various things.  I’ve been thinking a lot about our culture/society and the subject of body image.  It was something that came up for me last week that I meant to bring up as a generalized point in a discussion, but it’s such a loaded issue for me that I ended up making it rather personal.  And is IS personal because this is something I need to work on.  However.

Things are sometimes murky in the shadows.

It is also cultural.  Our culture (and the yoga culture) puts out messaging about what a beautiful body (or a yoga body) should look like.  Even though bodies come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, there is a body type that is considered the Ideal.  It has little to do with fitness, although the messaging includes fitness as part of it.  I don’t want to spend too much time on this aspect of things because there are better writers out there who have written reams on this subject.  Just Google “diet culture” and I’m sure you’ll find an essay or two thousand.

Size and shape are only part of it.  Aging fits in here, too.  Women in particular tend to become somewhat invisible after a certain age.  I’ve been sitting with these things, body type and aging, watching how they play out in my head and my life.  Something interesting has begun to rise up and ask to be noticed.

Enjoying the light.

In order for my story to make any sense, it’s important to note that I do not see my body as it is.  I have lost a lot of weight over the past 8-10 years.  I lost it slowly but surely.  Then the pandemic came along.  If we stay isolated for much longer, I will have the dubious honor of having lost nearly 90 lbs. overall (a 12 lb. loss, so far, since we went on lockdown).  It seems this type of stress does not result in the usual stress eating for me.  That, in and of itself, is kind of interesting, but also not the point.  The point is that I am not as overweight as I used to be.  In fact, I am not that far from the weight my doctor would like me to attain.

The honey locusts are blooming.

Yesterday morning, as I was getting up off the floor after meditating, I glanced up to see my faint reflection in the glass of the patio doors.  I noticed my legs first, and it seemed to me they were normal legs.  “Hmmmm,” I thought.  Then I looked down at my legs.  They were the usual fat legs.  I looked back at the reflection and my legs had become normal again.  In fact, my entire body looked to be relatively normal, not gigantic at all.  How strange and weird and wonderful.  It was proof of what I already knew, but wasn’t seeing.  There is a disconnect between my mind and my body, between the past and the present.  I still see myself as fat.  It was a realization that unless my mind catches up with the reality of the situation, it wouldn’t matter how much weight I’ve lost, or continue to lose.

If you’ve had any issues at all with weight, you probably recognize this as body dysmorphia or some such label.  What really interests me about it is the dichotomy between reality and the illusions our minds create as a result of our patterning and conditioning.  Some of that patterning and conditioning comes as a consequence of our own behaviors and thoughts.  Some we acquire through the messaging of our families, friends, and society at large.  You could, if you wanted, apply this to something other than weight or body image issues.

Barbed Heart. (This is part of a wounded tree photography project I’m working on — if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen this already. I’ve played with this image in a variety of ways so you might see it again.)

How to repattern or reprogram?  Well.  I’m pondering that.  That’s part of yoga, a repatterning/retraining of the mind through movement, meditation, self study, and a host of other things.  I have some ideas.  Nothing concrete enough to share at the moment.  I might get back to you on the subject again sometime in the future.

And what, you might ask, does all this have to do with red-winged blackbirds?  Maybe nothing.  But maybe there is something I could learn from them in regards to beauty, inner and outer.

They are perfuming the air.

Thank you for visiting with me today.  Let’s meet at the dock for sunset.  I never did get out to the Point to see if they changed the closing time.  The last time I tried to go out there, it was rather crowded.  I figure it’s probably best to give people time to settle when it comes to being able to access the parks again.  Sunset is scheduled for 8:05 PM.  Wow.  It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that the sunsets were two to three hours earlier.  It’s breezy and cool today.  A jacket would be a good idea.

Please be safe, be well, and be kind.  ♥♥♥

Raspberry blossom.

A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy:  1,416)  A cooler than usual spring.  I’m enjoying it while I can.  We’ll be in the mid-80’s by Friday or Saturday.  1,417)  The company of trees and birds.  1,418)  Red-winged blackbirds.  1,419)  M, always.  1,420)  The floral scent wafting through the air lately.  All sorts of flowers are blooming now.

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.

20 thoughts on “The red-winged blackbird

  1. Oi Vay! I hear women constantly talking about dieting, calories, taking up an exercise class – all aimed at somehow erasing societally induced dissatisfaction with who they are. Others, or the same ones, are having panic attacks over the fact their natural hair colour is showing (our hair salons have been closed for 7 weeks) It’s so sad! I was one of them for much of my life. It’s a tough culture that makes women judge themselves on an aspirational ideal that is all but impossible for most of us to reach. Standing at 5’1″ and shrinking and naturally of a sturdy build, being a willowy 5’9″ has never been a possibility for me – and yet I tried! My weight has yo-yo’ed over the years in response to the vicissitudes of life and whenever I attained the willowy state I’ve been physically or emotionally unwell. Now in my 70’s I’ve settled into silver haired rotundity with a certain comfort. Being invisible to almost everyone under 50 allows me to move through the world easily and to interact only with those who see the being not the image. I judge my wellbeing solely by health now. I know when I’ve indulged in too many carbs and have chosen to not eat certain foods and fast foods because they simply don’t sit well in my gut and I don’t want to feel unwell. I’ve got this desire to arrive at my death as healthy and as easily as possible 🙂 I think it was wonderful you got to see yourself in the glass reflection, because the more you hold that as your reality and let go of any body dysmorphia the better you will feel and the sooner what is really you becomes the living reality. (If you followed that chaotic thought process 🙂 )

    I’m still waiting to take delivery of my Ted Andrews book – so looking forward to being able to read up on certain birds. We have blackbirds, but not your red winged variety. They are very pretty. As I read on through your post I had the sudden thought that I doubted the black/ brown blackbirds don’t spend too much time lusting after that red streak through the wings of the others. Birds have more sense than people it seems 🙂 I’m a big believer in us women valuing who we are and loving our journeys and learnings and discoveries so much that that is enough for us. Those who know us, love us and reflect that back. The rest really don’t matter.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Pauline, for your beautiful comment. I followed it all just fine. 🙂 I think you are right about the birds. They probably don’t spend any time at all worrying about or wishing for the colors and feathers of the other birds.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, after Pauline, there isn’t much to be said. That invisible thing–I don’t mind it much of the time. Of course, if you’re trying to get help in a store, it’s a pain, but often it helps me move through the world with freedom I never had before. I’m startled when I look in the mirror, because, frankly, I’m about 27 and why I should look like a 62 year old woman is beyond me. But most the time I’m used to it and in some ways I feel more powerful than before. it’s definitely a period of new growth, and you noticing that you don’t look like your image of yourself is a definite sign you’re ready for a spurt!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lisa. You made me laugh at being startled when looking in the mirror. I have a similar reaction. lol! It’s strange how the mind plays those kind of tricks. Or is it the mirror tricking us? 😀

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  3. It is interesting (if not a pity) that so many women do not like what they see in the mirror. I used to criticize the different parts I didn’t like until I started thanking those parts for what they have done for me. Legs, for instance, I thank for carrying me thousands of miles over my lifetime and some pretty interesting places, too. It has made such a difference! I still sometimes look in the mirror and am astonished that I am as Lisa wrote– not “27 and look like a 62 year old woman.” Another good quote from Bette Davis is “aging is not for sissies.” Boy, she got that right!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So much to ponder about body image–and Pauline said it well. I was thin as a teen, and I stayed that way until about age 50. Like Pauline, I’ll never be tall and willowy, as I’m only 5 ft. tall, and now, I’m much more curvy. But I’m probably more muscled, too. I suppose having some “cushioning” is good when I consider how many time my mom fell and didn’t get hurt.
    I see lots of black birds, but I don’t know if they’re blackbirds. 😀 I will usually notice a red-winged one once or twice a year, and it always seems like a special moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Merril, for joining the conversation. It seems like a lot of us are short. I like what you said about having some “cushioning.” Somewhere I read that as we age, we need a little extra weight (or cushioning). I guess that means we’re what we should be doing. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Robin, oh my, body image. How hard it is for us to really love our bodies the way they are. What if we all could just celebrate our bodies, celebrate who we are? I know of one beautiful woman here in our community–her heart’s wider than a huge boat–who weighs more than your average bear. And she’s so wonderful! She wears her weight like it’s who she is, if that makes any sense. She’s always celebrating her White Russians and monkey bread and sweet rolls. She’s always laughing. On the other hand, one never knows how she feels inside. She could be crying. She could be trying to be someone different? But what if it’s OK to weigh what we weigh? What if we didn’t struggle with some imaginary cultural image of what we’re supposed to look like? Both you and I have lost weight in recent years, but I am also wondering if that might happen more naturally as we relax into accepting who we are? Not sure about that, either. Anyway, thanks for the “food for thought” this morning. PS Haven’t seen a red-winged blackbird yet, but they must be around.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We see red-winged blackbirds at the beach pond every summer. They are beautiful but I’m never able to photograph them. Your pictures are nice.

    Body image – been thinking about that a lot, too. I’m always shocked when I see pictures of myself because the woman there looks nothing like the woman I see in the mirror. (I like the one in the mirror better and it makes me wonder which one other people see when they look at me!) I’ve been overweight most of my adult life, except for twice when I worked very hard to lose the weight, once in my 30s and once in my 40s. Since November, however, I’ve lost 35 lbs because of the radiation damage to my intestines. (A silver lining to the cloud, I suppose.) I could stand to lose some more but it strikes me as ironic that the weight I am now feels good but it is the same weight that felt horribly overweight to me when I was 30! I keep thinking it shouldn’t be so hard to find the right foods to eat… It would be nice if all body sizes and shapes and ages were acceptable to ourselves and others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Barbara. I’m sorry about your “silver lining.” My wish for you is that you heal, and that it becomes easier/better. I often wonder about the idea of the “right” foods. I’ve been so immersed in diet culture throughout most of my life and the rules are always changing. I’ve been listening to my body more or more precisely, my gut, in regards to what is right and what is not. My gut has had a lot to say about food over the past few years. I’m learning how to keep my insides happy.

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  7. I think I’ve been trying to lose weight since I was a teenager. I look at pictures of myself from the teen years and see I never had any weight that needed losing. Even just before my folks died in 2004 I see that I wasn’t overweight…but back then my brother, my mother and I were all trying to get to 140 pounds. Mom did, two days before she died. She and dad were weighing themselves and had posted their weights and the dates on a paper thumtacked to a wall in their closet. She was supposed to call when she got to 140 but she didn’t. I was about 145, and never, after all of the loss we suffered that year, never got any lower than that. And each year since, all 16 of them I’ve been gaining. So. I wonder if I’ll look at pictures taken from these times and think I look just fine. Because right now all I feel is heavy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dawn. 🙂 I have the same kind of diet history and when I look at photos of me from back in those days, I marvel at how thin I was and wonder how I could have thought I was fat!!?

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  8. How to repattern or reprogram?

    That is a great question. I’ve been thinking around the edges of that question. I wonder if by becoming more detached physically from each other we’ll each be able to define for ourselves what we think is healthy, as in how we look and what we do. I want to leave my old unhealthy behaviors behind, the ones that don’t make me feel whole, and I want to latch onto new better patterns. I can do it, but will it take effort or will it come naturally to me as a result of this pause in time? No answer, yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooooh! Such great questions/thoughts, Ally! Thank you. I’ve been thinking along some similar lines, moving from the personal of leaving old unhealthy behaviors behind to the outer world and systems that are in place which drive old and unhealthy behaviors and patterns. I hope that’s the way we’ll go.

      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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