We have entered the new year. I discovered, in the act of writing to you all before the holidays, how delighted I felt once announcing I wasn't going to work on any new ventures in my studio between Christmas and New Year's. Instead of my usual preoccupation with projects, I walked in the woods, played in my sketchbooks, wrote letters and turned off the news.
I didn't know there was a black walnut tree in these woods. I discovered it by stepping on bones and feathers in the mist of leaves and mud below the tree's mantle. Great Horned Owl feathers! Last year at this time– after hearing a pair of these owls bring in the dawn with their mating calls– I found an entire perfect wing. The only predator these owls have are each other. One pair has a mile of territory. If this was a dream, surely it would be about loss and fragility, the season of winter– but also the sense of magic and mystery in the natural world. If I were in a story (which of course I am) I would know that things happen in threes, and this is the third remains of Great Horned Owl I have found.
My mind wanders on these walks and two words from my last post are still with me: uncertainty and listening. I do not allow myself even a camera, so I pay closer attention, stay longer, and practice listening.
I came out of the woods and crossed the meadow at dusk. The starlings that gather and move as one body across the sky, are a winter marvel. They are so far up, and so quickly change direction– I think sometimes turning upside down– but even then, remain as one body.
What saves me from despair, over and over again, is the bigger picture provided by the natural world, stories and poetry. I don't usually post my own poems, but this is my offering to you all for the new year:
New Year’s Eve
All evening I watched winter
dusk descend on the meadow
and bare oaks around the pond
where the abandoned boat lies
next to the catfish skeleton.
The wild ducks drift without
concern for resolutions or regrets
or murmurings of the starlings
that gather, glide in the high blue air,
beaks all facing one direction.
What gives you the experience of a new beginning, or the sense of being gathered together? I'd love to hear from you.