The first days of the new year were an icy mess, although I still had a pleasant walk on the trail developed near the house. It’s been years since I’ve kept a feeder in the yard, but I still need the company of birds in winter, so I make my daily forays on the hill, no matter that birds are nearly as scarce as January dandelions or that the weather might be as inviting as a trip to the emergency room.
The ground was white with rotting ice and a fresh layer of snow. A walking stick probed the ground as my boots crunched awkwardly along the sloping acreage. Crows called from the distance of the valley. I may have heard the nasal outcry of a nuthatch from the frozen quarters of the maple grove or cheered myself briefly at the sight of chickadees flying singly through the high boughs of the spruce and pines, but mostly I perceived the January emptiness– the solitude defined by the departure of autumn birds and foliage.
It wasn’t necessarily a sad affair. I have friends and family, music and writing. In my walking meditation, I looked outward for the words to fill an emptiness within… Two ravens flew across the valley, battling the strong winds high above. One of them seemed to fly in from the myths and stories told by Native American elders. He was a creator spirit and a trickster from the far Northwest. Even though I would have benefitted from a word with him, I was from another world, and it was only right that his great beak made no utterance today.
The second raven was the noisy one. I listened to its piercing squawks, medieval croaking notes that tumbled on the wind… I heard Twa Corbies (an anonymous, early English poem/song), carrion-eaters saying one unto the other, “Where sall we gang and dine today?” I felt lucky to be alive and well, a lone rambler with his metaphoric hawk and hound and lady fair (all of them faithful to the moment), rather than the slain knight of the song, removed from the winds that will blow “Oer his white banes when they are bare… for evermair.”
[Small consolation– I prefer cremation when the time arrives! For now, may the ravens of hope create a wonderful new year for you and yours. I thank you for reading, and remind you that comments are always welcome here.]