Monday, August 26, 2019

A RAINY DAY — Dismal?

Figure lurking behind tree?

My favorite essayist, E. B. White, once penned a short column for The New Yorker in which he reported that the weatherman had forecast the day as one that would be “rainy and dismal.” White said he regarded that forecast as one that produced the demise of the era of pure science and the dawning of the day of philosophical science. Dismal? Perhaps for the philosophizing forecaster. White further said that this forecast showed the weatherman had been spending too much time indoors and “to the intimates of rain, no day was dismal and a dull sky is as plausible as any other.”

Today is a rainy day on The Mountain here at Sewanee, but it isn’t a dismal one. The plants have been thirsty for far too long, the last of the corn crop in the valley needs watering, and I’m not into predicting the impact of rain on the human spirit like the weatherman in New York. The stony ground here is drinking noisily. Unlike the muddy ground of my native Louisiana, we seldom experience flooding at Sewanee, but continuous, heavy rain sometimes causes trees to loosen their roots and fall.

I looked out this morning and saw darkened tree trunks, thinking how happy they appeared to be after showering all night. At breakfast, I went to the dining room window and saw what seemed to be a shrouded figure hiding behind a white oak, but the dark figure turned out to be only part of the tree that had lost a branch. (Evidently, we’ve been watching too many mysteries on television that probably influenced my first impression of a figure lurking behind the tree).

I looked for birds that seemed to have disappeared from our yard during the last few weeks and which we’ve tried to lure on site with filled bird feeders, but they’re still absent from the woods behind us. Yesterday, we saw two giant crows grazing in the back yard and wondered if they had scared the smaller birds away just as they’d attacked a squirrel on the fence. My friend Susan Entsminger in Colorado says that perhaps the birds have begun their winter migration already, and I’m hoping that such a natural occurrence has taken them away. 

Sister Hannah at the Convent of St. Mary asked for permission to read one of my bird poems for an environmentalist program she’ll coordinate this winter while we’ve flown further south, and I was pleased to pass it on after she reminded me the poem had appeared in my book, All Love. It’s called “Watching the Wrens”:

Where have they gone?
Infant wrens, directionless,
fluttering into a blue ocean,
their mother pushing, telling them
to expect welcomes from the unseen.

The nest now an untidy hanging,
twigs, leaves, declarations of love
twisting in the wind
beneath green painted eaves,
secure and shadowy.

Them thinking how good it was
to be fed, making noises
to call someone home,
hoping nothing would change
if they opened their beaks

and received the message:
soon she will let you go,
and you must let her go,
singing as if you knew
where you are going… 

1 comment:

Jo Ann Lordahl said...

Terrific. As usual Jo Ann