Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Tag: small stones

Plunging Back into the River of Stones

I saw this video Beth Adams posted at Cassandra Pages a month or so ago and keep coming back to it as I start off on another River of Stones challenge. I began 2011 the same way and resolved to maintain the daily practice for a full year, at least. I made it to August 23 and then… school started, I ran out of ways to say the drought was slowly killing my state, it was too hot and the air too full of smoke and ash to want to go outside. Other things to do, and then, the world just went right on. It started raining (not enough, but it did) the weather cooled, I started sleeping again and then the year was at its end.

For the previous two years I’ve picked some favorite stones and made them into a chapbook to give away, but there wasn’t one for 2011. I just didn’t have time, couldn’t make the time (but mark did and he said his lovely Postmarks chap was partially inspired by my gnarled oaks) and then… I don’t know, I just wound up feeling like I’d let go of something important that I hadn’t meant to let slip and that was the practice of seeing, paying attention, and then recording my observations. I don’t know if it makes me a better writer to do this, I suppose it does, but I do think it makes me a better, or perhaps, more thoughtful person. As I’ve done before here, I paraphrase Pirsig in Motorcycle Maintenance: you are the cycle you’re working on. Writing stones isn’t about the writing, it’s about growing by connecting with a world spinning so fast as to seem out of control.

We have bags of clothes our six-month-old has outgrown. When we went to buy him some new clothes, we were shocked by how small all the three-month-old clothes were. Was he ever really that small? Where did the time go and how on earth did it disappear so quickly. It was only just July.

So, marking time, reflecting on it and slowing it and me down enough to really reside for a few moments in its stream… those are good reasons to start afresh observing and writing stones. As the video above reminds us each year is a collection of days, each kind of the same but passing quickly, sometimes too fast for the eye to take much of it beyond the larger picture. Thus the beauty, the importance, of small stones and the kind of awareness they engender when we set out to really pay attention.

Thanks, Fiona and Kaspa, for the river. I’m eager to dive back in.

I post my stones at my other blog, a gnarled oak. Please stop by and hopefully I’ll make it beyond August 23 this time out.

Evening-Star Rain Lilies

 

Evening Star Rain Lilies (Cooperia drummondii)

It actually rained here last week. Free water fell from the sky. Now, these starlike beauties have appeared everywhere. I stopped on my bike ride to photograph a few to ID, and was pleasantly surprised to discover their starry name.

evening-star rain lilies
along the trailside

a blanket
for a few more
cool nights

Easter Morning

this backyard wildlife…
a congregation awake
discovering spring

a new mourning dove
on the fence by the feeder
studies the others

young squirrels—
so much thinner
than the adults

a new family
house sparrows chirping
the busy backyard

six house finches
learning the hummingbird feeder
sun-sparks in water

fledgling goldfinches
flap inexperienced wings
on Easter morning

This weekend, we were treated to families of lesser goldfinches, house finches, house sparrows, mourning doves and fox squirrels coming around the backyard so the adults could show their young where to find the food. The juveniles were clearly just out of their respective nests as they were following the adults around flapping their wings and chirping to be fed. It’s never long before the babies figure out how to find food on their own at which point they will be indistinguishable from the adults.

I’ve seen this in the backyard with black-crested titmice, common grackles, mockingbirds, cardinals, Carolina chickadees, and Bewick’s wrens, and it’s one of the joys of feeding birds (and squirrels) but I’ve never seen so many at once.  It was, quite simply, stunning and humbling. Songbirds don’t live long and most don’t even make it through their first year, but I like to think that at least some of these birds will be out there for a while, maybe waiting for me to count them one day down along the pond trail.

Publication announcement: My haibun “The Grackle Tree” from my Birds Nobody Loves series is in the latest issue of the ‘zine Nothing. No One. Nowhere. Thanks to the editors for publishing it along with so many other wonderful poets. It’s an honor to be included.

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