The stripped and shapely
The ghosts of her
The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.
The year is old,
The birds are flown.
And yet the world,
In its distress,
Displays a certain
~John Updike from “A Child’s Calendar”
Yea, I have looked, and seen November there; The changeless seal of change it seemed to be, Fair death of things that, living once, were fair; Bright sign of loneliness too great for me, Strange image of the dread eternity, In whose void patience how can these have part, These outstretched feverish hands, this restless heart? ~William Morris, “November”
Late February days; and now, at last, Might you have thought that Winter’s woe was past; So fair the sky was and so soft the air.
The happy birds were hurrying here and there,
as something soon would happen… – William Morris from Earthly Paradise
We’ve had a pair of bald eagles who return every winter to our hilltop farm. They like the high perches offered by our tall Douglas fir trees providing them a 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside and fields. I suspect their nest is nearby, if not in our woods. They were back today, full of conversation and gossip, chittering back and forth like a couple of sparrows, only much louder and much much bigger/grander. The regular inhabitants of our fir trees — crows and red-tailed hawks — are quite put out at the encroachment of eagles on their territory. They fly about the trees angrily, with scolding and harassing calls.
But the eagles reign wherever they set down talons. There is simply nothing to argue about. My only worry about having them in the yard is how vulnerable our cats might be when the wild bunny pickings get thin. Otherwise I appreciate the eagles for the good neighbors they are. They keep the rodent population under control, they are polite and don’t throw raucous parties at night, and they have a stable long term marriage, something I deeply respect.
So when their chirpy dialogue quiets down for the night and the hoot owls start in, I think about how much I always miss all this conversation during the silent nights of deep winter. Happy birds are back, a truly hopeful sign that we are passing into spring, and something soon will happen…