Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Starlings in Winter

Such a busy, up-side-down week is now behind me and it is now time to regroup and move forward again. I am not sure which way is up today, but I will write for a while and try to find it.

It is oh so nice to be treated to a quiet rainy morning at home after all the busy ones we had last week. Two return trips to Montreal were a bit harrowing for these small town drivers let me tell you, but AC did a fine job navigating the highways and byways and got us there and back, and there and back again, safely. Whew!

We had many maps and written directions, but the pace of the drivers, the congestion on the roads and the lack of English road signs, gave us conniptions and caused us to get lost at one point. We shared a few anxious moments when we discovered we were heading north instead of east, on a rather confusing section of highway, but we soon corrected our error and got on the right road, going in the right direction again. I didn't like driving in downtown Montreal AT ALL! Nope, not one little bit, not during rush hour on Wednesday or early morning traffic on Saturday. Both were harrowing!

The highway between Ottawa and Montreal is a treat to drive on though, so we were able to relax and enjoy the ride on this stretch of road. Thank goodness. We had sunshine for our first trip to the big city on Wednesday, but the misty early morning trip on Saturday was by far the most spectacular. As we drove along, we moved from misty cloud to sunshine and back to misty cloud again in the blink of an eye. The trees would be bursting with colour one minute and wrapped in fog the next. The contrast made each phase vivid and etched in remarkable beauty. Oh such a feast for our senses.

AC and I travelled most of the way in silence as we were both in contemplative moods. Funerals tend to do that don't they? Each new one brings back the memories of all the others we have attended in our lives. I pondered life and death and relived the pain of the death of my father, as we went to comfort The Boy in the death of his dad. I thought about the joy of our expected grandchild and the sorrow of the loss of this grandfather. In and out of the sunshine and shadows we drove and in and out of joy and sorrow my spirit went.

At several points along the road I noticed flocks of birds performing aerial ballet routines and I was reminded of this Mary Oliver poem. I hunted it up this morning and it spoke to so many feelings that have been whirling around me this past week. Let me share the poem with you and wish you a day to live as though you had wings.

Starlings in Winter
by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theatre of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can't imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city,
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard, I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.


Anvilcloud said...

That was quite a flock that we passed at one point. And didn't you enjoy watching the geese honk by just a few minutes ago?

Lynn said...

Many thanks for the poem. A sparrow is sitting on my balcony railing looking in the window at me as I write this. Oops, he flew away.

luna pie said...

Hello Sauntie Ue! I was wondering if we will be seeing you this weekend for the gobblegobble turkey feast?

Mary Oliver is simply the *best*. hee hee!


Mary said...

YAY. i was so excited to see on sarah's blog that you guys were coming up this weekend. this gives me extra motivation to work even harder this week so that my workload is lighter this weekend.

are shauna and eric coming up?

must get back to the books...and essays...and labs....CAN'T wait to see you both! ben and i will have our dancing shoes ready!

methatiam said...

Well, apparently, Happy Thanksgiving! Is that this weekend in Canada?

Heather Plett said...

Here's hoping the sunshine and shadows complement each other and balance out enough to give you a rich and glorious life.

By the way, in my conversations with Karla, I was reminded of what a beautiful, kind woman you are. Much love to you.

Cathy said...

Cuppa, what a beautiful post. I'm so pleased to be introduced to this poem of Mary Oliver's. I'd somehow missed it (or my old brain just can't dredge it up:0) It is so apropos to your experience. She blends sadness and hope as you did so nicely.

Granny said...

I'm sure it's starlings we watch at dusk. The sky is almost black with them.

Cuppa said...

AC - Oh yes, the geese flying overhead in waves are magnificent. What a treat to live in their flight path

Lynn - You're welcome. Poetry is such a soothing balm for the burns life leaves on our souls isn't it?

Sare - MMMM, I can almost smell the turkey cooking from here. See you soon.

Marm - Sha and Eric will be there too. Should be a great time of thanksgiving and celebration. See you soon.

Methatiam - Thanks. Have a wonderful holiday.

Heather - how neat that you got to meet Karla. I hope to give her a real hug one day too. Some blog friends become real heart friends don't they? Thanks for your kind word sister of the heart.

Cathy - Mary Oliver is THE BEST isn't she? Her poetry touches my pain like none other, and she always leaves me with a glimmer of hope.
I just heard that she has a new book out "Thirst". Oh Joy! I have already added it to my "must have" list.

Granny - do they move like they are watching some invisible conductor? It's an amazing dance to watch isn't it?

Maya's Granny said...

What a lovely poem.

I have seen ravens do the aerial ballet. In the dead of a Fairbanks winter, when the ice fog was thick and nothing else seemed to move or be alive and you could get to wondering if there really was any life outside, suddenly there would be ravens flying in delight and joy and you would know that indeed there was life and spring would come and winter has its own charm.