Last month dear friend Jeannine gave me a copy of BIRDS ART LIFE: A Year of Observation by Kyo Maclear (who happens to also create books for children)-- because the book helped her get through a long winter.
Appropriate, right, for 2018, Year of the Bird?
And super fitting for me, as our lives have been greatly enhanced by a new bird feeding station outside our bedroom window. Oh my, the birds we've met! House finch and goldfinch and cardinal and tufted titmouse and bald eagles (not at the feeder, but nearby!) and and and... so many birds! So I thought I would share with you a few of the passages from the book that really spoke to me:
|our bird feeding station|
"Part of being open, I decided, meant cultivating a better kind of attention. I wanted to achieve the benevolent and capacious attention that the be-scarfed artist and the bird-loving musician showed the world."
"My usual (nonmaternal) attention had three strains. There was the dogged attention I gave my art, the boxed-in attention I gave to my devices and screens, and the durational attention I (sometimes) gave to challenging books/art/films. All these seemingly dissimilar forms of attention had something in common: they were on their way someplace. They sought a reward, a product purchase, a narrative connection."
"Poetry captures the elusive nature of birds, but it is science that allows us to see them with precision and grace. The best books captured the sweet spot between poetic not-knowing and scientific knowing."
|our bird identification book|
"A spark bird could be as bold as an eagle, as colorful as a warbler, or as ordinary as a sparrow, as long as it triggered the “awakening” that turned someone into a serious birder. Most birding memoirs begin with a spark bird."
"Our courage comes out in different ways. We are brave in our willingness to carry on even as our pounding hearts say, “You will fail and land on your face.” Brave in our terrific tolerance for making a hundred mistakes. Day after day. We are brave in our persistence."
"Now when I hear birdsong, I feel an entry to that understory. When I am feeling too squeezed on the ground, exhausted by everything in my care, I look for a little sky. There are always birds flying back and forth, city birds flitting around our human edges, singing their songs."
"If the wind is going the right way, some birds like to spread their wings and hang in the air, appearing not to move a bit. It is a subtle skill, to remain appreciably steady amid the forces of drift and gravity, to be neither rising nor falling."
"The birders I encountered in books and in the world shared little except this simple secret: if you listen to birds, every day will have a song in it."-----
I do hope you will give this book a read! And of course it brings to mind "bird" poems. Who among us does NOT have a bird poem? Here's one of mine, inspired by grief and loss:
Life Without Birds
You appear just before dawn
to ask what it’s like
without you. I push through
the quicksand, gauging
the weight of forest
as it presses against my body,
a whole country of spruce,
pine, and cedar surrounding me.
I don’t want to burden you
with what you’ve done,
so I say I miss the birds.
Is there any deeper truth?
No wings flashing from
no careful nest in the eaves,
no graceful, raucous Vs.
The loss of song
is the part I won’t admit,
no matter how tenderly
you press your fingers
against my eyelids.
- Irene Latham
and two more from ARTSPEAK!