fieldnotes 10.25.16

‘… some kind of path …’

October nibbles, adoringly,
but doesn’t bite yet —

(how it is a matter of tolerance,
an easing in to pain)

— its wind pushing our edges.

And I am frightened.
Whether losing my ground to a drought wind
or to the slow, steady erosion of a wet summer,
still I am lessened

(how my right foot tried to send me down the stairs).

It is unhurried.
It is no grand act of the gods.
But it shakes us to our foundation anyway.

And I am lost.
Naming and nameless,
I am lost.
I do all I can do,
and all I can do is let it pull me on and on —

with the promise of bluebirds, with the promise of stained-glass oak leaves, with the promise of winter’s lonely quiet, with the promise of first woodland flowers again, with the promise of it

— changeful and changeless —

and its resistance to definition
and how it lives in the unspoken.

We need not be beholden
to the constraint or myth
of inevitability.
Our living is haphazard.

I have no truck with faith.
Only, a sort of mutuality —
and the deep animal movement of the heart —

how to feel it is to believe.

And how every piece of evidence points to the illusion of the finite.


10.25.16
(53/39)

46 degrees. mostly very cloudy (though the sun came out by halfway round). mitts and woolly hat. vertigo prevention. goldfinches and robins. big flock of cedar waxwings — busy! curious! gregarious! song sparrow. and robins. and robins. and robins. downy woodpecker. a line of clouds like the rungs of a ladder. i’m too tired — soul-tired — for climbing. Feel my bones. Bones like stones. oaks and maples a crazy quilt. sun breaking the clouds. my favorite east-side tree — an old burr oak — most beautiful when bare. its breadth amazing. so quiet, birdwise. the wind in the grass, sun in trees against gray sky. in the tops of the indiangrass. everything feels unreal. watch then scare up a heron on the pond. in the sunlight, in flight, he really does look blue. lands on the other side and stills. we both watch an osprey wing over. kingfisher, heard. and still the river is full of blackbirds. redwing alarm and grackle chuckles. kingfisher, seen. still a few pelicans. 15 or so. some kind of sandpiper. spotted? 4 sandhill cranes chase off a heron.

Notes:
Quote: (some path): Nick Cave + the Bad Seeds / ‘Into My Arms’ from The Boatman’s Call (1997)


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 10.20.19

Circe or Siren?

I’m not sure what this is —

do I name everything else
to avoid naming it? —

(trees so orange you don’t need the sun)

— how we love that it is limitless

— how to name is to limit,
to confine and contain.

(Oh this endless wandering,
timely, timeless,
in my left hand I crush the yellow coneflower seeds,
breathe it in,
no, more deeply than that —
sow it in the wind for next year.)

There is just that mystery in the Sirens’,
in Circe’s story —

endlessness of ocean,
prairie seen from above,
autumn trees at the edge of a gray sky,
milky way when you can escape encroaching light

— which makes us long and loathe to tell it.


10.20.16
(56/46, gray and windy after overnight rain.)

autumn. october, for sure. ‘and if your boat is broken out on the rocks.’ flock of robins. it’s brisk enough i could’ve used mitts. a hat. remember next time. dried yellow coneflowers. save enough to pick when you’re longing for that late-summer smell in the dead of winter. northern pintail. 4 pelicans, real close. redwings and canada geese of course. the prairie grass — tall and brown in the wet wind behind the rain. the oaks even going now, subtle and varied as their wakefulness, if you care to listen. golden crowned kinglet. bit windy for bluebirds today? quiet, relatively. a day to relish the wind. still the barest hint of singing bugs, just close enough to the edge of hearing to make you wonder if it’s just your ears ringing. chickadees. there is no sunlight, but the milkweed seeds still seem to catch it. siren. awe of endless ocean before anyone knew it had an end. beauty of the near. bluebird, heard not seen. big flock — 3 dozen or so — of sparrows, caught like leaves in the wind. undergrowth has died back. this time i remember where the old fenceposts are and don’t trip or fall. big puffball. (you can always use one more field guide… fungi, trees, tho perhaps the most useful would be a guide to homo sapiens … how would you name them if you didn’t know their names?)

Circe — a lure so strong as to feel almost holy. a thing of the gods. meant.

singing trees are done for now, leaves crunch underfoot. big flock of robins. still frogs, down by the water. white crowned sparrow. 30-some-odd pelicans, still. 3 herons. 1 egret. sandhill crane. grebes. hundreds of robins, by the river. little flock of goldfinches, not at all gold anymore, as I leave.

Notes:
Quote: (broken boat): Joan Shelley / ‘Stay On My Shore’ from Over and Even (2015)


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 10.18.16

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)