Sunday was the worst, with round-the-clock 60 km/40 mile-per-hour blasts off the lake. The wind took the lilac bush in its teeth and shook it like a rag toy, then slung the birdfeeder into the yard, where it skittered across the crusted snow. This morning I picked up the pieces, and determined it was repairable with some wire and duct tape.
All day Sunday a mixed group of smaller birds tucked themselves away on some bushes in the corner of my neighbor’s house, keeping as much out of the wind as possible. A brown-streaked Cooper’s hawk kept hanging around, counting on its very presence to frighten the birds into flight, and thus becoming a meal for the quick-winged accipiter, but if it caught anything on the wing, any showers of feathers would have been whisked away before they could tell their story.
This morning I discovered one small casualty – a beautiful little female redwing blackbird among the lilac suckers. No sign of predation; nothing disturbed. Perhaps she was old, or ill, or maybe the night was just too cold and she succumbed to hypothermia – something that takes many birds each winter. I’ve left her there, perfectly laid out as she was, for her confreres come and pay their respects. And they do; here’s how I know:
Once when I was driving in the Alberta foothills, a flock of goldfinches flew in front of the truck I was behind. I could see what had happened (you never tailgate on those dust-choked backroads if you want to breathe) and gently braked. A female had been hit and dropped straight into the dirt. Instantly, a bright black-and-yellow male turned, flew back to her and perched on her lifeless body. A few other goldfinches gathered at the roadside, waiting for news. He cocked his head, shifted his tiny weight a few times on his slender feet until he had assured himself of whatever it was he sought regarding her, and then they all flew off. Before leaving myself, I scooped up her still-warm body and laid her in some of the weeds she’d loved in life.
The Cloud Messenger (Meghadūta) is a lyric poem by the respected Indian poet, Kālidāsa. The poem centers around a yaksa in exile. Longing for his beloved, waiting for him on a Himalayan mountain, he asks a cloud to take a message to her. The sights he tells the cloud it will see on its way make up most of the poem.
The idea of recording observations appeals to me. I thought The Cloud Messenger was the perfect title for a blog about the journey that we all make as we move through our days.
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.