Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Seeing in three dimensions

This time of year, our front porch in Charlottesville is perfect for giving us a never-ending spectacle of birds. Lori put three bird feeders on the porch, including one for humming birds. Another feeder seems to attract cardinals, while another gets the gold finches.

I am sitting in my rocking chair writing this, and the birds are fluttering back and forth to the feeders. The humming birds haven't shown up yet, but they will soon, I hope.

When I look to the trees beyond, I can see many small birds flying from branch to branch. If you take them in all at once, you can see them as a web of birds constantly in motion.

Our house is at the top of a hill, and in the waning hours of the day, we can gaze across at the tree tops and see all manner of larger birds including hawks and an eagle of two. And at dusk, a few bats swoop around gobbling up flying insects.

There is one bird I am hoping to see but haven't yet -- an owl.

In Sacramento, our house was in an urban forest, and we built a second-story deck in the backyard just so we could see what was up in the trees. In the summer, we'd sit on the deck with a glass of wine and wait for our favorite dusk visitor: the neighborhood's white owl. The owl would cruise along just above the trees, huge gray wings looking almost like a ghost. We are fairly sure the owl made its nest in the big trees of a nearby cemetery.

God's creation truly dwells in three dimensions. We who live on the ground sometimes see it only in two. We are blessed that the birds remind us to look up.

Here is a poem sent the other day by our friend Karen from Tennessee:
Little Owl Who Lives in the Orchard
by Mary Oliver

His beak could open a bottle,
and his eyes - when he lifts their soft lids -
go on reading something
just beyond your shoulder -
Blake, maybe,
or the Book of Revelation.

Never mind that he eats only
the black-smocked crickets,
and the dragonflies if they happen
to be out late over the ponds, and of course
the occasional festal mouse.
Never mind that he is only a memo
from the offices of fear -

it’s not size but surge that tells us
when we’re in touch with something real,
and when I hear him in the orchard
down the little aliminum
ladder of his scream -
when I see his wings open, like two black ferns,

a flurry of palpitations
as cold as sleet
rackets across the marshlands
of my heart
like a wild spring day.

Somewhere in the universe,
in the gallery of important things,
the babyish owl, ruffled and rakish,
sits on its pedestal.
Dear, dark dapple of plush!
A message, reads the label,
from that mysterious conglomerate:
Oblivion and Co.
The hooked head stares
from its house of dark, feathery lace.
It could be a valentine.

1 comment:

Rik Rasmussen said...


I like this very much!
"God's creation truly dwells in three dimensions. We who live on the ground sometimes see it only in two. We are blessed that the birds remind us to look up."

Sounds like a good on-board for EFM on Thursday!