Musings: On Red-winged Blackbirds At River’s Edge

Each day as I walked along the Merrimack River last fall, there were a few dozen Red-winged Blackbirds singing in the top of the tree alongside the river. They trilled, they chattered, they called out a sharp “chak chak chak” sound, making certain that all knew of their presence along the river as they formed their flocks each evening, swirling about, diving head long into the marsh grasses and Phragmites like some daring stunt pilots dazzling an audience of spectators. I watched them spell-bound as they careened about along the edge of the river, flashing their red wing patch as they veered left and then right and swirled in to the marsh grasses in a flurry.

12249738_10156338064300122_7052959651026995189_nThey were a loud group, a boisterous crowd, which broke the reverie of the quiet as I walked along the river’s edge. Despite the fact that I expected each day to see and hear my raucous friends as I walked, I was startled from my own mind that often spun like the chattering flock of glossy Red-winged Blackbirds. Once brought to my senses I would stop to marvel at the racket they made and laugh at their antics swooping about in the large swath of Phragmites along the river.

Day in, day out, as I walked past their riverside haunt the red-winded blackbirds did not cease to entertain me. It was just that simple it seemed, that nature provided the stimulus to take me outside of myself long enough to look at my life from a different direction. As the flight of a flock of birds shifts and change direction, so too does life. Typically, the clarions of spring, I wondered each day why this flock of red-winged blackbirds had not made their way south yet. They were still hanging on to the river’s edge, out of season, as if they might risk wintering in the cold New England winter.

And then, one day they were gone. I walked the path I always took, I marveled in the silence as I passed by the large stand of Phragmites usually infested with Red-winged Blackbirds. I stopped and listened for their chatter and trill. I heard only silence. The cold winters of winter had finally sent them south, I thought to myself. Soon the spring would come again and those clarions of spring, the Red-winged Blackbirds, would return. I would wait, as I do in all aspects of my life, for change to come.

Food For Thought: Watching the River Flow

I sit at my desk mesmerized… The river has shifted its flow and is moving upstream with the force of the incoming tide from the ocean. Along the sides of the river, the water is rippling in an undulating motion as if trying to go against the movement of the upstream flow.

I am captivated by the flow of the river and its motion, seeming so unnatural a motion, to flow upstream instead of down. Yet, every day the river takes a trek both up and down stream, for I live on the lower end of the mighty Merrimack River, where the tides of the river shift with the ocean’s tides. The frigid temperatures of this day have created massive sheets and formations of ice, which stretch across to the center of the river. They are captivating to watch as they move past my vantage point at my desk window.

Merrimack River, Amesbury, Mass

I think of the river, in all of its guises, as part of me, in all of my guises. I am as changeable and impermanent as the river. I feel the cold hard edges of the ice jarring me from the inside, begging me to reach deeper into the depths of my own source that I might understand the very flow of life.

I see the forms of other life and substances caught in the ice, frozen for a time, creating more texture, forming more questions in my mind. Where did this branch come from? Where is it going? Who am I in the grand scheme of it all. Continue reading

A Carolina Wren Comes to Roost

Last night I just discovered a Carolina Wren sleeping under the eaves on my front porch. My first reaction was what the heck is that little brown thing up there in the corner? I have red squirrels, chipmunks and field mice around the yard. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was a little rodent or some other strange creature. Finally after peering out the door at it for a time, I opened the front door, went out and walked up underneath it. As I slowly, quietly walked up below it, I realized it was a little bird. It didn’t flinch a feather as I stood there a couple of feet beneath it, peering up at in the light of the porch lamp. After observing it from different angles and being certain I was not disturbing it in any way, I went inside and grabbed my camera to take some photos, because it looked so strange all puffed up there, roosting in the corner as it was.

little carolina wren sleeping in the porch eaves

I knew it was not a Sparrow and given the coloring, I thought it must be Wren of some sort. Checking my bird book, I determined it must be a Carolina Wren. My first instinct, once I realized it was a Wee Little Wren, a favorite bird of mine, was to take it down from the corner and hold the poor little creature in my hands to warm it up. It made me cold to see it up there roosting in the corner instead of in a warm nest or bird house somewhere. I myself was shivering from the chill in the air.

“Why was it not roosting in a bird house,” I questioned myself? “There are plenty of bird houses about in the yard,” I told myself.  “Perhaps it is new to the neighborhood, as I am,” I thought. Perhaps it is lost and sought shelter here on my front porch.  Continue reading

Daily Affirmations: In The Still

winter on the merrimack riverIn the still, we find answers to our deepest questions. Meditation is not something that comes easy for many people, but I have found that nature helps me find that place where the still exists. As I let myself go and become one with nature, it is in that moment that answers and inspiration arise.

Today, I re-mind myself to take even just a few moments for myself and sit quietly in the still. No music, no TV, indoors or outdoors. No focus, just being in the still. In this I know, this is the deepest communication I can have with my heart space.

Namaste… Pamela

(Photo: Winter on the Merrimack River ~ c. Pamela J. Leavey)