Painting makes me happier than anything else I do. I believe it’s the wordless state that I get in, something so rare for me. And I feel. I’m hoping my body someday will feel like a safe place. The physical world has always been a challenge. Perhaps due to left-handedness, a difficult birth, parents who hated their own bodies and obsessed with safety. I’m not sure it matters anymore, but negotiating the physical was the hardest part of growing up. Sometimes walking and talking is hard (really), or knowing which hand to use. I break the lead of every mechanical pencil I’ve ever used. Yoga makes me edgy. But when I paint, I feel my heart open, my head clear, and I feel free.
Posts tagged ‘flight of birds’
Last Sunday, a week ago, Gail and I went out to the Bogg’s Bog, a wetland the Nature’s Conservatory protects. Summer had come down in the beat of a day. Needles in the grass bloomed and stuck to my socks. I thought of rattlesnakes. The tules, within just a few warm days, were now brown, and the water in the marsh had already receded to where only birds can reach.
Redwing blackbird sentries surrounded the nesting area. These birds were a military force, the males in uniform with the red chevrons on their wings. They vigilantly protected their breeding grounds from predators and kept the females within its confines, forcing them to stay with their eggs. Canada geese honked in the distance. We could see them resting far off. They breed here during their long migration, something that I hadn’t realized.
When we first arrived, Gail and I sat on a log in the shade and just listened. We told our stories to each other. I shared what I thought was a bit of darkness on my soul, but brought to light with a trusted friend, with the words spoken over the colors that were descending with summer so that they rose with the bird talk, I realized that there was no darkness, just confusion and missteps.
Yesterday I went to Mary’s. To get there, you have to walk down six or seven switchbacks on her path. It’s steep and makes me winded each time I climb back up. But the descent is wonderful, and you wind up at her wooded house, built circa 1940, that rests right on the shore.
We sat on her porch and listened to the water lap and watched the birds fly and settle in the oaks, skirt the lilac, buzz around the feeders, and swim in the shallows. What a feast . . . we traced one call, a single note that kept repeating, from her deck and up to her bedroom window where we found a male mountain quail hiding in the upper branches of the scraggly oak tree. Black head and top knot, gray body. The females were foraging below him.
We looked down from her window and found a mallard and his mate paddling in the water right at the shoreline. A Bullock’s Oriole flew by. We went back to the deck to follow him as he flew up to the taller trees.His bright orange belly caught the afternoon sunlight; he and the tree leaves shimmered gold.
The finch’s necks were bright yellow, and we caught the iridescent red of a few hummingbirds. Then as we sank down in her lawn chairs, a pelican circled. Even when he was several hundred feet out on the lake, we could see the profile of its mating bump protrude like a big pimple on his nose. It will be there through the end of next month and then disappear when the mating season is over. There were two small birds doing a mating dance of sorts, the circled around each other too fast to know if they were hummingbirds or finches, or some other species. They rose twice while we were there in a small whirlwind of joy.
Mary and I shared a few hours of grace. I’ve thought a lot about grace for most of my life; I’ve only experienced it in small amounts on a conscious level, though I know if I became more centered I would be aware that I am actually drunk on it. My reality is steeped in it, as is yours.
Grace is found with the quiet mind. My monkey mind is the absolute monkeyish. If I “heard” this correctly, Course in Miracles says that we continue to crucify Christ with our thoughts, our lack of forgiveness for ourselves which then creates tension with the world.
Brother James commented to me: You are loved . . . and now I can’t remember the adverb. Passionately? Exquisitely? If the world experienced that love, would the kingdom of heaven, which is here already, form solidly among the shadows? We could touch it the way Thomas did Christ’s wounds, find that it is real, and that we have always belonged.
I fly in dreams, blue sky painting
my feathers. I drift like a primitive
tale over the shallows.
My harsh voice shows I’m crazed,
and my eyes hold the shadows
my fierce ancestors left.
I swallow and devour, a nightmare.
And a blessing wading in the glory of marshes
and in the great awakening of my flight.
Fully fed, a terrible angel.
But so smooth is my exhortation
blue wings in flight,
Hallelujahs in the air.
There were times I would walk on the dock at Innisfree and look out at the great bowl of Clear Lake. The water would slap at the dock, the tules would sway between the pillars, a wind ruffle small waves. I would hear life everywhere. Bullfrogs in the rushes, ducks chattering as they bobbed up and down, grebes farther, their miniature necks shaped like the Loch Ness Monster until they would dive down and shake their butts like cartoon birds. And once in a blue moon, I would see a heron wading in the tules near the boathouse, a small rickety apartment made from a wooden fishing boat. The birds looking like sorcerers in gray and coal blue feathers.
My Pomo friends have told me stories of beings that live in and near the lake. The Squishy, a creature they could hear rise from the lake when they were children, the Bird Man that appeared to their nephews outside their bedroom when they lived in Clearlake. When the boys described him, the family knew who they were talking about.
My herons would always surprise me, and sometimes, I’d see them more than once while they were hanging out for a week or two. And what a joy to see them cast off from the ground, a different creature even then, more pterodactyl than bird. At times, I have seen them fly low near Rodman’s Slew as I drove along the cutoff.
I have decided I haven’t had enough mornings like this. So much of life gets stuck in the day-to-day of work and of “reality,” Amazon rainforest producing more carbon than oxygen, quagmires around the world, the moral sickness of so many politicians. We all need healing, from trauma, from traumas generations past, from the grinding down of our souls with media and the white noise of the 21st century. A glimpse of a heron is a miracle to me.