Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Birds

What makes your heart sing?

On the edge of sanity
my heart skips a beat
uncertain whether to
laugh or cry or fade out
of sight without so much
as a farewell or a hug

Looking around I wonder
why I’m still here after
a lifetime of trying to prove
I’m not a failure or a witch
wanting to poison anyone
intent on taking me down

I no longer believe old lies
about the meaning of life
and who gets to decide
who or what is worthwhile
as too many of us lurch along
drunk with our own goodness

All my life I’ve held tightly to this mantra: “Whatever you do, Elouise, do it well and do it with all your heart, mind and body.”

Rarely did anyone ask me what I wanted to do, what I most enjoyed about life, or what dreams I might have for myself. To attend to what I loved was often seen as selfish.

Instead, the mantra was always about responsibility, showing up, and persevering until the job was done. It seemed sensible, sane, and part of what I could offer, even after retirement.

This past week, in conversation with a longtime friend, I finally got it straight. At this age, I am NOT responsible for most, if not all the things (files and academic records) I thought I needed to hang onto. It’s time to let them go, with thanks to shredders.

Besides life with D and my volunteer work, I love playing the piano, writing, reading, watching birds in the back yard, and looking through old cards, notes and pictures from long ago.

Praying for this tired old world, and opportunities to reach out as I’m able. Plus commitment to things I love. They aren’t distractions from the real work. They’re the main agenda.

What makes your heart sing? Thanks for stopping by!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 August 2021
Tufted Titmouse photo found at thebirdnature.com

Storage | Mary Oliver

What about all the stuff we collect over the years? Mary Oliver knows. My comments follow.

When I moved from one house to another
there were many things I had no room
for. What does one do? I rented a storage
space. And filled it. Years passed.
Occasionally I went there and looked in,
but nothing happened, not a single
twinge of the heart.
As I grew older the things I cared
about grew fewer, but were more
important. So one day I undid the lock
and called the trash man. He took
everything.
I felt like the little donkey when
his burden is finally lifted. Things!
Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful
fire! More room in your heart for love,
for the trees! For the birds who own
nothing—the reason they can fly.

Published 2020 by Penguin Books in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver (p. 7)
Copyright 2017 by NW Orchard LLC
First published in Felicity, 2015

I grew up in the 1940s and 50s. Back then (post-World War II) we were trained to make do with whatever was at hand. Throwing things away was not encouraged.

Almost anything could be repurposed, altered, or made to fit the need at hand. Glass bottles, aluminum tumblers that used to be filled with store-bought cottage cheese, lids for just about anything, hand-me-down clothes, kitchen utensils, and bits of old candle wax. Furthermore, if we didn’t need it, someone else probably did.

Here, however, Mary Oliver invites us to let go of stuff that takes up unnecessary space. Why? Because it makes room in our hearts for love, for the trees, and for the birds who own nothing.

Could it be that the stuff taking up space includes old attitudes and beliefs about ourselves and other human beings? These might also be lurking in boxes we’ve not examined or relinquished. Which leaves little if any room for the birds, for other human beings, or even for our own growth.

What would it take for us to soar and dance together in the sky?
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 June 2021
Video of Starling Murmuration found on YouTube

Breakfast with the Birds

brazen bold bluejay
hogs large birdfeeder
grabs one seed and bolts

small chipping sparrow
flees to small feeding window
to make a withdrawal or two

quick brown chipmunk
vacuums between green grass blades
packing cheek pouches with loot

one male blackbird
flashes bright red wing bars
coming in for fast food takeout

I sit behind my kitchen window
grateful to be alive
and eating indoors

Most days I’m mesmerized by the way birds cooperate in order to get a bite to eat. Actually, I’m not sure they’re cooperating. They seem to love or at least tolerate their unspoken pecking order, which lies at the bottom of most of their unruly behavior.

Almost every day I wonder what it would take to live in a different human pecking order. One based on need and the desire to survive together. Not on our current order driven by size, brilliant feathers, or loud, rude voices.

Last night I was feeling down. Having my computer keyboard die on me yesterday was more than I’d planned on. Most evenings, I write in my journal. Last night I decided to read from Without a Flight Plan. It was just what the doctor ordered. A bit of birdseed to get me through the night.

This post was created with thanks to D for loaning me his ThinkPad.
Thanks to you for stopping by!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 April 2021
Photo found at ebay.com

On a cold morning

Like clockwork
On a cold morning
in February
the air comes alive

Fluttering wings
and hopeful
wannabes
strut their sweetest songs

A maybe pair
of small song sparrows
flits from twig to twig
male in patient pursuit

While nearby
streaking through air
landing on a dime
and taking off again

beak stuffed with
twigs and detritus
a tireless common pigeon
weaves a crude nest

Fragile hope springs
from the ground
sending up small fireworks
of purple and gold

All seen in my backyard this weekend and this morning. I think I’ve got the pigeon nest spotted, just outside my kitchen window. They’re not the most exotic of birds, and their offspring look like awkward adolescents. Still, I’m won over by the parents’ loyalty and their remarkable ability to endure all kinds of weather without abandoning each other. All in my backyard.

Happy Monday!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 February 2020
Photo of wood pigeon nest found at commons.wikipedia.com

spring beauty

morning sun
bathes fir trees
heavy with new cones

bird pairs sing —
their broken records
stuck in a groove

I wrote these two weeks ago early in the morning, then prevailed upon D to take the photo at the top. It’s from our bathroom window, looking at what was once a baby Christmas tree planted along our property boundary. The unusually high number of new cones is visible in every variety of fir tree in and around our yard. Good news for the squirrels! They go crazy when it’s a bumper crop year.

Then there were and still are mating birds all over the place singing their loud songs–sometimes female and male birds call back and forth to each other, other times male birds belligerently announce and defend their territory. No need for an alarm clock these days.

I love this time of year! Hoping you’re enjoying whatever season is happening in your part of the globe.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 May 2018
Photo taken by DAFraser, 27 April 2018

April Spring

sorting quickly
a robin selects fresh twigs
worthy of her nest

cold gusts
send Spring warmth flying –
a starling whistles

blanketed
beneath wildflowers
Spring takes root

I wrote each of these this past week, on different days following a chilly walk outdoors. This morning tiny snowflakes were whirling around for a bit before disappearing. Yesterday D and I walked in the late afternoon leaning into cold gusts.

This winter was the most difficult we’ve had in years. So cold, icy, windy and messy with snow that I couldn’t get out and about as much as I did last winter. Which isn’t great for my mood or my sense of being part of the world around me.

All I want is to see people, give and take a smile or two, maybe stop and talk a bit, admire all the dogs that don’t belong to me, watch children racing around in the street and on the playground, get my miles and hills done, dodge a few cars, listen to robins, tufted titmice, chickadees, cardinals, woodpeckers and flycatchers, then come home to our cat and a warm house.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 April 2018
Photo of Claytonia virginica (spring beauty) found at nature.com

slow cold drizzle

slow cold drizzle
hangs in late winter air
song sparrows sing spring

I’m just back from a morning errand. Chilled to the bone, umbrella in hand, winter hat and gloves in place along with multiple layers of warmth. As I walked down our driveway, I heard and then saw a resident song sparrow getting a jump on competitors that might want his staked-out territory! Here’s to an early spring–which we seemed to have for two  glorious days this week before another cold front came through yesterday.

Enjoy the birdsong, if not the weather, wherever you are. (There are two song sparrows on the short video.)

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 February 2018
Video found on YouTube – by Lang Elliot at musicofnature.org

majestic wings

I.

majestic wings
hang in winter air
descend slowly

II.

bird of prey
touches down in old oak tree
folds majestic wings

I can’t decide which haiku I like better, so you’re getting both versions! I wish I had a video of what I saw out my kitchen window this morning. I don’t know what kind of raptor it was, but it was gorgeous. Especially its wings–much like the osprey in the photo above, but probably not an osprey. I watched for a few minutes before it took off. It was surveying our yard and a neighbor’s yard. Looking for breakfast, no doubt.

We had a little ‘heat wave’ today. That means we got up into the high 20s (Fahrenheit). Tomorrow promises a shock to the East Coast, especially in New England. We may wake up here in the Philadelphia area to wind chill in the range of minus zero degrees Fahrenheit. And snow, of course, along with strong winds. So today included a nice walk with D outdoors in the winter sun, and a trip to the grocery store.

Hoping this finds you enjoying the outdoors as much as possible.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 January 2018
Photo found at audubon.org

facing east

facing east
the red cardinal shines
in sun-kissed feathers

No, this isn’t the cardinal I saw this morning outside my kitchen window. But it’s close enough. One of the most beautiful sights ever on a cold winter day in the Northeast. Though not a discreet disguise for the faint of heart. Nonetheless, looking ahead to the New Year, I want to be counted in the red cardinal category. Bold, beautiful and facing into the rising sun.

Here’s wishing you a Happy New Year of unexpected joy and peace.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 31 December 2017
Photo taken by Mary Anne Borge, found at thenaturalweb.org

breathless air

breathless air hangs
beneath steel-gray sky —
birds take cover

That’s what I saw outside our kitchen window this morning. Not the little bird, but the calm before a snow storm making its way up the East Coast. Right now the first flakes are coming down steadily. And I’m going into hibernation mode!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 December 2017
Photo found at pinterest.com

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