fieldnotes 10.18.16

Euterpe’s Promise

The sun chooses one distant golden tree,
and it is blinding.
How nothing changes.
I still can’t stop watching them —

(We are naming the bluebirds.)

— your fingers like wings in the meadow,
unexpected sweetness.

And I could be more persuasive,
but the sun rises where it rises.

I want to put mine over yours,
a laying on of hands,
as if something good were still possible in them —
some calling-forth you look for.

And just as we grow timeless,
the moon hunts us out,
the weather grows seasonless —

(The bluebirds are everywhere —
everywhere.
An aulos echoes —
and they are everywhere.)

— and I am lucky,
and so are you.

We don’t really believe in the Devil,
anyway.
And we can walk away from what does not serve.
No specialists —
we keep our visions vague.

Suspended like this,
I promise
never to say anything
untrue.


10.18.16
(75/56)

flock of killdeer. singing bugs. none of the woolly bears seem to agree, at any rate. egrets, up in the trees. gnat swarm. shoo! it looks like, but does not feel like, october. osprey. plenty of water fowl, but i’ve left my binos behind — no time for closer looking today. cattail tops going fuzzy. redwings still calling from deep in. bluebirds. heard, then seen. downy woodpecker. ‘you were such a good girl then.’ red admiral. all kinds of fungi! a new thing to learn. ruby-crowned kinglets. bluebirds again. 12. butterfly, a white. ‘you’re lucky to even know me / you’re lucky to be alive.’ look: still a handful of pelicans. asters not quite done yet. bluestem proving it’s not either. more bluebirds by the singing trees. yellow-rumped warblers. the counting! fillmore’s years’ of records. all the birds. and counted, too. but only birds of course, and especially songbirds. sparrows and warblers. a specialist. sowing indiangrass again. it’s so hard to resist. dragonfly, frenetic by the pond. a startled egret. flock of … shovelers? … river is still all blackbirds and robins. fallen tree in my path makes a small hole in the canopy. sun through yellow trees. here’s the old man, his leaves just starting to turn, and further in, the grandfather, almost no living branches left. who knows how long he has? as i leave, the geese arrive in their hundreds…

Notes:
Quote 1: (good girl): Isobell Campbell & Mark Lanegan / ‘The Circus Is Leaving Town’ from Ballad of the Broken Seas (2006)
Quote 2: (lucky): Liz Phair / ‘Polyester Bride’ from Whitechocolatespaceegg (1998)


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 10.13.16

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)

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)

fieldnotes 9.29.16

‘Save Me’

We move in strange directions,
like the rain’s taken a turn over the lake.
We hope it waits,
but we’ll risk it and our long eyes
for a chance at unfamiliar.

And I could say that I am no angel.
And you could say that you are no savior.
We could lie and lie and lie,
as if words meant nothing.

But I want to feel what you feel.
And I want you to know what I know —
how I was wrong about not-needing.

There might be nothing solid or steady
about the water’s surface:
The visitors come and stay
or come and go —
lucky days, lucky weeks, lucky months or more.
And yet,
there is an undeniable force of permanence.

This is where we place our faith.


9.29.16
(64/59, windy)

blue jay. judgement vs. strength. the lion waiting in the dream. walnuts join the cottonwoods, both brazen, unlike the oaks that wait until the last minute for a subtle blaze. asters seem to love this weather best. when did the redwings go, or did they? 11 robins disappear in your direction. sun fighting the edge of a storm. looks like it could turn any second. my shirt is buttoned crooked. is it still possible for people to become things just because they want to become those things? emily dickinson, naturalist? if we could only shake the clock. milkweed bugs. you have to accept that you will die before you’re done. goldfinches have completely changed color now. i want to tell the truth. walk out to stand among the bluestem. it takes little time to disappear. i can’t tell who’s indulging whom now. the rain is going to catch me, but i have to see if the pelicans are gone yet. redwing. 3 cormorants. 8 egrets. 2 blue herons. 5 wood ducks. 2 sandhill cranes. 23 canada geese. 19 white pelicans.


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 9.26.16

Solace

Cold front grabbed midnight’s wheel to turn the season on its side.

(milkweed pods beginning to burst – crickets and locusts in a long diminuendo – goldenrod thrives and fades – how we love this vulnerability – purple aster, white aster – everything a suncatcher today)

Thinking of Judgement and recently read —
less the confusion —
we wonder,
why not sooner seek solace?

(eight egrets and an entire flock of white pelicans – goldfinches change their clothes – a ragged-winged monarch takes the sun – battered, we serve the wind – chickadee-dee-dee-dee chicory)

(( i need new shoes and socks ))

Anchored by awkward age.

(one-two-three eagles wheel past – nakedeye – cottonwoods gone close to bone)

One feels a minute mechanism —
within some vast,
some elaborate,
some exquisite machinery —
so huge as to be almost hidden.

(cattails above take the wind – hard to imagine the winter that would bend them)

The more we come to know,
the more impossible it is to lie.

And we are so constrained:
by myth of time,
by myth of map,
by myth of wheel,
by myth of mind,
by myth mystic and myth mundane.

Unborn,
unhatched,
we are seed just taking the wind,
and we want to believe
in comprehension,
in capability,
but it takes a season of sleep to arrive.

And if the sleepy winter is a womb,
might it not also be
the fertile soil of our dreaming?

And oh!
(that dream) —
how it shook me like the earth unbound,
how the aftershocks still take me unaware:

a vision of tender,
reclined and bare,
head in warm dry hands,
cheek to chest —

there, there.


9.26.16
(69/57, windy)

moon and sun share sky. bluejay alarm. tricky fall warblers. red tops of sumac. leaves flame and ash. calling the wind. for real this time. socks full of seeds. horseweed. goldenrod. aster. cuckoo. snakeroot. cedar waxwings. mourning cloak. smells like carrot leaves. oh! osprey! poison ivy. joe pye weed, fuzzy topped in the filtered sun. eastern comma.

“Anglewings are some of the only North American butterflies to overwinter as adults, crawling into cracks in trees or manmade structures.”
–Jeffrey Glassberg, Butterflies of North America

The 7 Species of Anglewings:
-Question Mark
-Eastern Comma
-Gray Comma
-Green Comma
-Hoary Comma
-Oreas Comma
-Satyr Comma


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)