Taking stock

Steam lifts off my morning tea.
A robin sings its insistent curling song.
Dawn's light is growing.
A phoebe, no two, begin calling.
Anna is safe. She has finished her three-week hike. Climbed 
    Mount Whitney. She is coming home.
Spiderwebs in the tall grass are white with dew.
A door closes next door. A dog barks. The sheep bleat.
I pull the blanket closer around me.
A catbird mews.
The sweet tea warms me.
My dear friend, Teacher to my soul, will let the cancer take her 
    this time. She will move on.
The sun's first light glints through the trees.
A song sparrow, perched atop the willow, sings into the day.


Perfect timing

     This is the time of abundance.
     I found myself sitting on an overturned white bucket Tuesday morning, all alone in a field of blueberries. It was cool, slightly foggy. Nothing moved. That kind of air stifles noise; no far off road sounds or airplane sounds or distant chainsaw whines made it through the stillness. Everything was muted.
     Against that grayness, color started to emerge. My eyes focused on blue, the hazy blue of lowbush blueberries. And how amazing the berries are this year! They're packed on stems so heavy they lay on the ground. Fat and round. I've never seen them like this. I hardly had to move for an hour. Bent over in the cool damp, my eyes moved from blue to blue, and my mind quieted with the calm of a repeated task.
     And then the sound colors began to emerge. First the birds. Barn swallows – oh how I've missed them since they left our barn. A white-throated sparrow over the edge of the hill – one of my favorite birds. A robin in the garden below. The high-pitched “zeee zeee” of cedar waxwings, who always travel in a group – these landed in a birch tree close to me, and then dropped down to glean berries as well.
     I noticed the ground bees next. One or two flew in and hovered near me, their buzz alerting me, and I watched placidly until they flew off, or dropped into the berries. Actually, it wasn't into the berries, it was into a small hole in the ground, a little dirt cave near me. One would drop to the lower edge, then walk in. Just a few seconds later, it – or perhaps another bee – would walk out and fly off. They didn't seem to mind me, and I didn't mind them. I picked right around their hole, peaceful on my bucket.
     Everybody is feeding now, including me. Besides the berries, there are mosquitoes and flies and beetles and crickets and butterflies and moths and ants – all food for the young birds that, now fledged, are voraciously learning to hunt. Back at home, as I sort through my own gleanings for jam-making and freezing, I watch groups of juvenile catbirds, phoebes, waxwings and crows hop and dart and swoop through the crab apple tree and over the wet grass of my back yard, catching insects.
     This is all so perfectly timed. There is so much food here. There is so much life. Even the mammals are eating, usually at night, and I only see what they leave behind.
     In a month or so, there will be apples and hawthorns and rose hips and nuts instead. I like the berry-and-insect time. I like working quietly among the bees and the young birds. I'm so grateful that I slowed down enough to notice. I see it everywhere now, and feel part of it.