fieldnotes 10.27.16

Defiant Goodwill

‘There isn’t one that we cannot discover.’

In the midst of driving through the gloomy gloom, I thought of a long-ago acquaintance who, when feeling she could not find light or help, looked for advice in the first words that she came across that rang in her ears.
And, as I thought about it, a truck driving by said “Defiant!”
And then another said “Goodwill.”

Seeds planted in the rain, they come up quick.
We can still feel it trying to turn.
Dig in your heels against the rising pull —
those blades hung,
exposed —
and know you are a soldier, of sorts,
with skin in place of armor,
vulnerable enough to choose to bleed by your own hand.
And there’s more weeping waiting,
but know this:
The world is indeed against you
when you stand against yourself.
And the wind is picking up, colder.
Find the defiance to face it.
Find the goodwill in knowing
that even on its grayest, most darkening day,
the sun is still there.


44 degrees. cloudy and damp after a day of settled rain. it’s windy. chilly. the birds will be all together — whether we see them, a matter of chance. A dozen shovelers on the Marsh. and I am out lion-taming, I suppose. rainy day knocked the leaves down. trees, newly exposed. the new regulars. 2 grackles. red bellied woodpecker, heard. a whole flock of bluebirds! instead of flying off, they come close as if curious, about 12 feet off the trail, as if to say hello. in their midst, a purple finch. and another flock of bluebirds, or is it the same birds, following me? white-throated sparrows. goldfinches in their winter coats. cardinal. blue jay. birds all coming out to visit. raspberry leaves all red-brown-burgundy. still some berries on the branches, all dried up. this spot is some kind of magic now. can I soak it in a second? food for some kinda winter bird. and no wonder the prairie plants are continually following me home, the way I wade in to see them. … walking along the meadow by the pond it is still cloudy. I cast no shadow, and yet, my eyes trick me and I see in front of me every shadow I have ever cast. Pause and wait. Mirages pass. Water in the pond is high, and water bugs still skid along the surface at the edge. Heron objects to being sketched. 2 redtailed hawks. a big puffball. they’ve been out cutting firebreaks, and the blackbirds are quieter. black ducks are back. and 2 blue-winged teals. few patches of bluesky. sandhill crane. little flock of coots. just 7 pelicans. leaves mistaken for birds. birds mistaken for leaves. and then a big flock — hundreds — of grackles as I leave.

Quote: (discover): Beth Orton / ‘Feel to Believe’ from Central Reservation (1999)

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)

Author: Emily

i once was lost

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