fieldnotes 10.13.16

love, jane

An alarm of geese —
unsettled and darkening —
provoked by a raincoat perspective shift.

44 degrees,
and the Pelicans are wheeling up
in their dozens,
black wing edges striking from below.

And the difference was how we divided the lines of identification.
Who is whom?
He’ll be him. I’ll be her.

He sees some opportunity for redemption
from this accident of taking for granted.
And she feels the curse of a troubled eye unseen —
the unknown that will always sleep
beneath the surface of seeming,
a futile waiting.

He doesn’t understand.
You can’t mend it by wanting it to be whole.
And eventually everything breaks for good,
if you leave the mending long enough.

And so I weep over the words,
and because I don’t want them to leave,
or signal some passage of time,
when I can no longer bear the speed of its passing.



(10.12.16 first frost)

10.13.16
(56/38 crisp and sunny)

(but look! here is permanence, too, of a sort. any constraint of time and space that is home to bluebirds is bearable)
I park in the same spot year-round, as long as no one else is in it first. in summer, it’s shady, and in winter it faces the sun. 5 pelicans are flying over the lot as I arrive, and I worry they’re leaving. yellow-rumped warblers. i can hear a few pelicans on the other side. 5 egrets, one flying southward. coots and mallards. 3 killdeer. is the pelican respite almost over? the work of recognizing and exercising strength. a leaf poses like a bird and I am tricked for a second. (how we learn to be wary young and live it forever.) he tells me I can’t live in the dreaming mind. ‘yeah i know that, so?’ how much starker they are: berries on bare branches. little flock of yellow-rumped warblers and white-crowned sparrows. chickadees, of course — always curious. robins. the winter flocks forming in the in-between woods. thinking how, two springs ago, right here was where the ice lingered longest. I’m slow to focus today, and the little birds keep escaping my naming. tufted titmouse (tee-hee). flock of bluebirds. we are the wintering ground for a number of species, and a nesting ground for even more, but exponentially more are just passersby. lucky. lucky. a kingfisher. flock of bluejays. goldfinches. a redbellied woodpecker. my old oak is full of spiderwebs catching the sun. pelicans in the air on the northside, and about 50 on the water. sandhill crane. grebes. fluffy joe pye weed catches the sun. white-crowned sparrows. am I keeping a record? ‘you’re living for nothing now’ mending’s end.

Notes:
Quote 1: (i know that’s so): Dave Ramont / ‘Prison Yard’ from Scofflaws (1996)
Quote 2: (living for nothing): Leonard Cohen / ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ from Songs of Love and Hate (1971)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 10.11.16

yeah, i know

You have gone to scare the crows.
I am taking what I can find
and calling it enough.

– (‘it’ll never be enough’) –

He is beginning to call it schizophrenia.

And it is sparrow time. Wind time. Snake-in-the-sun time. Praying mantis time. Milkweed bug time. Crickets-and-locusts time. Aster time. Slowly-with-the-bees-still-in-it time. A little indian summer.

Please, just one more minute before you cut me again.

Let your breath fill you
’til you run over with it,
then pour it into them —
the sunny jars you save.
But wait —

just one more minute.

There will be enough long dark
for learning that to eat carrion
is no curse.


10.11.16
(73/54, warm enough in the sun to shed one shirt, cold enough in the cloud to put it back on)

Hickories in a hurry now. white-throated sparrow. pelicans back, they seem restless. small flock of grackles. redwing warnings. I count 60 pelicans visible from here. have they been regrouping all along? 2 herons (they don’t like to share their territory, much.) sandhill crane. 5 egrets. northern pintails. coots. blue-winged teals. a robin scolding. and i think how before long i’ll be overjoyed to find robins nestled in the winter woods. redwing. sudden abundance of them. chickadees. our winter residents settling in. how the now-people don’t understand the value of lingering and lose sight of fall. I hear a bluebird. how they’re often startled to silence but start up again when you pause. big flock of robins. bluejay. whole flock of yellow-rumped warblers. omnivores. orange-crowned. there are still singing bugs. undergrowth dying back makes it easier to avoid cockleburs on my rest stop (but i still get a few). another bluebird. ever look close at a burr on a bull thistle? no wonder the birds love them!

a wing.
a detached wing on the ground with two frayed black feathers crossed in an x.

don’t let it feel like an ill omen. maybe a tether is a good thing, keep me from witching out too much. anyway. moment of anticipation. before you open the envelope. drop the needle. leaves are rattling by the raspberry spot, giving it a desolate sense, with dozens of wailing geese for emphasis. little brown moths hiding in dead leaves. have the swallows gone? anglewing in young oak. field sparrow. funny shapes of things done being flowers. couple of slow mosquitoes and some still-purple lobelia. late hatchers and late bloomers. a tremendous flock of blackbirds on the river, drowning out everything else. why am i so paralyzed outside of the Alone? cedar waxwings. (it was all an invention.) sometimes two oaks growing side-by-side make a perfect symmetry. (it’s not anymore, is it?)

Notes:
Quote (never be enough): Grinderman / ‘What I Know’ from Grinderman 2 (2010)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 10.9.16

afternoon notes

Hickory’s gold and gone.
Oaks are finding sweet,
making caramel,
butterscotch,
bourbon catching candlelight —
and the geese on the move wobble down
in sloppy circles —

more fall than descent —

like our own miscalculated landings.

No solid ground is needed, just …

try a little tenderness …

how we trip along the edge of the dream,
bugs still singing.

— (how I will keep saying the bugs are still singing just as long as I hear them. how, in this way, we will know when they stop) —

Be wary of the snare
and glory in your broken chain.

How I want to lie in the sun,
among the clouded sulphurs
and slip
into the long slow sleep.

— (somewhere in the distance, the
drums of a marching band) —

Bountiful as it seems,
it is hard to reconcile.

And we worry
that we will only ever become half
of what we are.


10.9.16
(62/50, sunny, but chilling)

so heavy and dull after traveling. help, sun! it’s still got some warming power this early in the season. clouded sulphur, fighting the wind. yellow rumped warbler. some kind of flycatcher. seems like not a lotta snakes this year? another clouded sulphur, catching rays, and now two dance an updraft out of sight. anglewing. who’d have thought it would be a good butterfly day?
remember butterfly blood?
here’s a snake. in the sun. i try to shoo him from the path and he coils. i tell him to be careful of bikes. a praying mantis poses for a sketch. on the high hill, another anglewing. milkweed like silver silk.
how seeds catching the sun are still sad.
left hip riddled with sorrow. right foot a stone I can barely lift.
goldenrod fading to gray. another sulphur, then three more coming to the high prairie. so many up here in the sun! goldfinches too! all the yellows finding slower where the sun still makes sweet. leaves scud into the grass, rattle down the trail. another anglewing. by the pond.
how best to press flowers? (i need to relearn it)
in the woods along the catbird trail, chickadees, warblers too tricky to name, little flock of white-throated sparrows. blackpoll. ‘in my mind i was a child /
and it felt good’ around four dozen white pelicans now. i share my binos w some visitors. the usual array — egrets, herons, geese, sandhill cranes. on the exit through the woods, a great horned owl echoes from growing under-tree twilight.

Notes:
Quote (in my mind, a child): Widespread Panic / title track from Ain’t Life Grand (1994)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

reconstruction.10.8.19

1.

How my back was broken for the untrue —
the closed hip —
the torrent that was confined there.

The damage,
permanent.

2.

How it still takes work
to keep it from being obvious.

Who would dive into that wreckage?

3.

How the wild shadow witched me.

How the bluebird soothed
and courted me.

How this landscape was my only true love.

… . …

During the fall migration, on these cool but sunny, warming sorts of fall mornings (from 49 to 60 degrees F while I walked today), I come across a lot of mixed flocks of birds.
Robins and redwing blackbirds.
Cedar waxwings and purple finches.
And 3 different flocks of bluebirds mixed with goldfinches, 2 of them with some field sparrows, too.
Most of these are year-round residents.
Robins can be found in large flocks along small wooded waterways in the deep winter, usually on days when the temperature gets close to or above 30 degrees F.
Goldfinches can be found taking cover in the woody edges on cold days and looking for seeds among the prairie plants on warmer days in winter. They sometimes even pass through the backyard in the less frigid winters. You have to plant native things that they like to eat. Asters. Sunflowers. Coneflower. Black-eyed Susans.
There’s a value in attempting to re-create continuous habitat. Let’s do that.
Bluebirds can be found on the coldest winter mornings, if the sun is shining, quietly singing a single note at the top of a tree. They like the woody edges.
Filmore, the bird guy who long ago moved — to Arkansas? to Oklahoma? — told me that in winter, you could look in the nesting boxes and find sometimes a dozen bluebirds all nestled together.
In the last flock of bluebirds I saw this morning, I counted more than two dozen (along with a dozen or so goldfinches). One of the largest flocks of bluebirds I’ve ever seen.
Perhaps it was a successful year for them.
There were some loners this morning too, of course. A hermit thrush singing its heart out at the inlet, the evaporating fog over the cattails like smoke.
Saw a warbler of some sort. Blue-winged warbler, I’d say.
Later I saw a kestrel. It frightened a whole flock of goldfinches my way. They’re almost completely changed from yellow now.
Seeing the diversity of species in the relatively small acreage of the Marsh (without really trying! I forgot my binoculars today) makes me wonder how it would have been 30 years ago. Before we lost 3 billion birds. (https://www.audubon.org/news/north-america-has-lost-more-1-4-birds-last-50-years-new-study-says)

fieldnotes 10.4.16

‘there aint no remedy for a song come to an end’

Even in the midst of it and trying to be mindful,
the change is a sudden blink of an eye.

Remember how hard it is to grab hold the spinning wheel.

Gods, I have wasted so many years.

Bees on the aster,
a full and frenzied final gathering,
though the oaks are still mostly green.
They will be the last.

The anticipatory.

We are all wondering —
have we gathered enough sweet to withstand the freeze?

(In our Januaries, will we remember those raspberries?)

Redwings call —
a reminder it always comes back ’round —

but we remember —

each time they are fewer,
fewer familiar,
to come with it.

And we need to know all the names before we are lost.


10.4.16
(63/57)

(we will never know all the names, so settle on what we love best.) meadow flowers have peaked. trees getting ready to. milkweed bugs crawling on each other on the dying seedpods. a goldfinch flock at the top of the hill. butter-and-eggs on the way down. indiangrass fiery. ‘there is no home. there is no bread.’ chipping sparrow. magnolia warbler. pelicans still at the north end, funny heads aslant. 4 egrets. canada geese of course. a frog that sounds like a peeper. cabbage whites. white crowned sparrows. yellow rumped warblers. colors on the prairie a heartache that fades. flock of robins. red paper wasp. 10 o’clock siren, I’m slow today. how much longer will there be singing bugs? clouded sulphur. dry tops of queen annes lace. can’t resist walking into the bluestem again, its seeds in my cuffs and pockets. in my socks and hair. a flicker. tie my shirt round my hips. yellow warbler. egret’s throaty growl. bluebird across the river echo on the water. damn cockleburs. geese by the dozens over the trees sliding onto the marsh. eastern comma. eastern wood peewee.

Notes:
Quote 1 (remedy): Kev Russell’s Junker / ‘Twilight of Song’ from Buttermilk & Rifles (2002)
Quote 2 (no home or bread): Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds / ‘Stranger Than Kindness’ from Your Funeral … My Trial (1986)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

(tbt) Muladhara

From Aug. 14, 2012…

Muladhara

It’s deep in the bone,
and coming back:
the root on the mend.

It is not time, yet —
to stand,
to walk,
to fly.

First, sit.
Breathe.
Dig deep.
Bring the blood back to it.

Open the bowl of your hip
and remember how
to pull and replace
rusted nails.

Now, pour in the red wine
to see where it leaks.
Mend it with acorn paste
and cardinal calls.

Light a flame
to burn off the decay;
add salt and sage
to open the wind door.

Scrub it down
with madder-dyed wool
from a down-heavy sheep.
Turn off the alarms.

Fill a stoneware bowl,
finger painted,
beets and cherries,
grapes and small red tomatoes
warmed by the sun —

clay bricks
stacked in a terrace
to hold black dirt
and the crawlers who nourish it —

rose petals,
poppies
and a snake
to encircle —

a resonant nest
filled with the noise
of one hundred bees
and gravel footsteps.

Make it solid and strong,
but not still —
It will be something
to build upon.

conversation

(after)

((after that))

October came and I was something different again.
An aster —
a sweet that abides the fall.

And there is that moment of —
(hope is yet too strong a word) —
of light.

Of light,
and faith in life.

To a varying degree,
we grow a guard.
But the singing wire between matter and matter —
what matters —
never ceases.

Eternal throb and hum.

You need to let something go.
Cast off that self you’ve collected.
Give it to the wind

like the cottonwoods their leaves.

(You don’t have to share this with the world.)

The night is the night.
It falls.

But today I am content
to sit beside you and wait.