In Celebration of the Autumnal Equinox

Mourning Dove feather
Fall Song


Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries – roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

Mary Oliver

Thank you, Mary, for the gift of your poetry… for having the words and the insight to write of things that seem fresh yet ancient, personal yet universal.

I find myself curious and eager to see what this new season has in store. Wishing a wonderful day to all of you reading this!

(For those that are interested, the lovely image is a wing feather from a Mourning Dove.)

 

Harsi / September 23, 2011 / birds, quotations / 2 Comments

Harsi / August 13, 2011 / arthropods, quotations / 0 Comments

Philosophizing (and Phoebe)

 

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 


Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)

 

 

This is my favorite portrait of a Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans).

This flycatcher is one of “The Regulars” here in the canyon — a year-round resident and almost impossible not to see or hear every single day.

Familiarity most certainly breeds fondness. 

 

Harsi / July 15, 2011 / birds, quotations / 4 Comments

Katydid Contemplation

 

katydid contemplating

 

 

While with an eye made quiet by the power

Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,

We see into the life of things.


William Wordsworth

 

Harsi / June 30, 2011 / arthropods, quotations / 0 Comments

Teaching an Old Fly New Tricks

fly balancing act


Most children have a bug period, and I never grew out of mine.

Edward O. Wilson

 

** Extra-special bonus points for the first person to tell me how it’s done! **

Harsi / June 24, 2011 / arthropods, photography, quotations / 7 Comments

J-O-Y

J-O-YThe death of “joy” in nature is leading to the death of nature itself.

Francis Schaeffer (1970)

 

I hope everyone had a relaxing long weekend… and perhaps managed to discover a bit of the joy and fufillment that is always present in nature, just waiting to be savored.

Harsi / May 30, 2011 / arthropods, conservation, flowers, mammals, quotations / 0 Comments

The Winged Energy of Delight

bird artwork

 

As once the winged energy of delight

carried you over childhood’s dark abysses,

now beyond your own life build the great

arch of unimagined bridges.

 

Rainer Maria Rilke

(from “Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke”, translated by Stephen Mitchell)

 

Lately, I have been feeling the strong urge to CREATE… poetry, art, music, textiles… something!

But, again, the perfectionist tendencies that I have always struggled with loom large over the path I’d like to walk. I have to keep reminding myself that how good something is doesn’t really matter. (What does “good” mean anyway?) It is the daily process of creating that I am craving… not fame, fortune or approval. (OK… if I’m being totally honest, I probably am still craving approval a little… but, I’m trying to get past that one.)

So, I’ve been attempting to move forward by going backward. I’ve been looking at all the things I created as a child. Hoping to rediscover that freedom of expression that seems to elude me these days. I know there was a certain self-confidence I possessed then… an assuredness that whatever streamed forth from my mind and from my hand was as it was meant to be.

I hope to not only start creating again in earnest, but to share much of it here. For now, I’ve posted this painting which was done many, many years ago. (I’m not sure how old I was, but I suspect that I was younger than 13.) I love the flowing lines and open space. The primary colors. The organic sky and oddly geometric bird. Mostly I love the place it came from… a place I’m hoping to reconnect with.

Harsi / May 20, 2011 / artwork, birds, quotations / 2 Comments

Is it spring, is it morning?

hillside, sagebrush & clouds

I can’t stop thinking about my walk yesterday. It was the kind of day that makes you want to write about it with such perfection that everyone reading will instantly know just how you felt. I rarely posses that sort of talent… but Mary Oliver does. She is a true master. Her poetry never fails to speak what my heart is saying.

 

Such Singing in the Wild Branches

It was spring
and finally I heard him
among the first leaves –
then I saw him clutching the limb
in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still
and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness –
and that’s when it happened,
when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree –
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,
and the sands in the glass
stopped
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing –
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed
not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfectly blue sky – all, all of them
were singing.
And, of course, yes, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last
for more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,
is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?
Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then – open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

 

brown-headed cowbird, lark sparrow & wrentit

For those that are curious, the birds pictured from left to right are:
A displaying male Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater).
A pair of Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) — they had literally just finished mating!
A singing Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata).

 

sky clouds grass

clouds that go on forever

 

Bliss. Peace. Beauty. Joy. Everything I want to have in my life! I hope that Spring is bringing all of these things to you too. We all deserve at least a little bit of this every day.

Harsi / May 17, 2011 / birds, hillsides, quotations, skies / 0 Comments

Like Light Streaming

singing house wrenHouse Wren (Troglodytes aedon)
I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if all our days contained only natural sounds. Would we listen once again to the wind and know what it meant? Would we hear as much as we see? There is, of course, no way to know — we closed that door behind us long ago — but listening to a bird singing touches something in our ancient past. Birdsong is like light streaming through the keyhole from a lost world.

Don Stap, “Birdsong: A Natural History”


The photo was taken a couple of years ago… But each Spring this scene repeats itself as several House Wren pairs go about the business of singing and nesting in various spots just outside (or in!) the walls of our cabin. Their calls are varied and repetitive, often dominating the soundscape of my daily activities well into late Summer. What bird calls are most commonly heard around your home at this time of year?


Harsi / May 8, 2011 / birds, quotations / 5 Comments

Unknown Fancies


With the wings of the birds, my spirit joyfully flies over unknown fancies everywhere.

Paramahansa Yogananda

I’m headed to Washington today! We’re spending a week on Vashon Island — hoping to find some cool wildlife, eat some good food and explore lots of new places. We’ll be traveling via the Coast Starlight train and I’m looking forward to being able to watch the landscape shift and change as we make our way northward. If all goes well, I’ll try and share a few pics and stories from my travels while I’m away…

Meanwhile, I was inspired on my last couple of walks through the canyon to capture some images of birds flying away from their perch. (I’m such a sucker for metaphor!) Be sure to click on the images to see a close-up of the bird on the wing!

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Cassin's Kingbirds

Cassin’s Kingbirds (Tyrannus vociferans)
*Look closely at the clickable larger image —
Just in front of the bird, you can actually see the insect it’s about to nab. How awesome is that?!*

American Kestrel

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)
*Notice the acorn in its bill — they cache them in all the telephone poles around our place… and in the trees… and in pretty much any other place that looks like it will fit an acorn nicely. 🙂*

 

Harsi / February 27, 2011 / birds, quotations / 8 Comments