Cranes Again

Sandhill cranes again
as every autumn ever
float over our fields.
Exiles, always calling
their lost and lonely plaint.

Drifting, always searching
a place to rest, a scattering
of grain not gathered in.
Gleaning, always mourning,
like us, the coming chill.

Shadows of autumn
gliding, all too briefly,
over our land and gone.
We're left to mourn alone
the chilling, biting winds.
Image by ladymacbeth — Pixabay

The Drought

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is PELT.

This short scene yesterday was my Write Practice exercise: we were to tell about some activity during the day and add some kind of conflict to the account. My basic activity will be filling the dishes I’ve set in the back yard for the birds, and I’ve used the elements — the drought — as my conflict. Here’s that scene, embellished somewhat, as my RDP prompt response.

Watering the Birds

Looking out the window this morning I see half a dozen small birds clustered around the plates I’ve been putting out. The plates must be empty again. Full of dust, more likely. I’d better refill them – don’t want the poor birds dying of thirst.

There’s no other moisture for miles. Pot holes and sloughs disappeared back in June and the steady winds keep shifting dust along the ground, coating whatever plants may have a bit of juice in their leaves. The nearest place for the birds to drink would be the river twelve miles away. Even that’s just a trickle by now. Surely the fall rains will start soon?

I smiled as I filled the water jug and lugged it out to the garden. Many trips I’ve made already this fall, but I’m thankful Tom allows me this bit of “wasting.” He knows how I love to watch the birds and want to keep these last few with us just a little longer. We pray every day that the well will keep flowing. The birds aren’t the only ones needing water in this brutal country.

As I walk through what was once my garden, trying not to stir up too much dust, a relentless wind pelts me with falling maple leaves. The trees have suffered, too, this summer — but the fall rains will start any day now. Surely?

Of Birds and Bruises

“They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little cowardices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word.”
–Daphne Du Maurier, from her novel Rebecca

Remember those days?

This morning I scanned the writing prompts, hoping someone would have posted BRUISE or GROUSE as a prompt word so I could write about my latest sightings. Nada. Well, I’ll just file them to use someday as prompt words over at RDP.

Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning: TAX
Fandango’s FOWC: ENSCONCED
Word of the Day: CORYBANTIC

WORDS LIKE BRUISES

Because I was thinking of bruises, I searched the Goodreads quotes to see what I could find. Here’s an intriguing one from Anne Sexton’s poem, “Words”:

“…they can be both daisies and bruises,
yet I am in love with words.”

I get that — being a lover of words myself.
I’m also getting bruises. Right now I feel somewhat like the “she” in this tale:

“She was so delicate that, while we sat beneath the linden branches, a leaf would fall and drift down and touch her skin, and it would leave a bruise.” – Roman Payne

When I saw a cardiologist last week Monday, he asked about my family history, especially heart and diabetes issues. I told him that my birth mom had diabetes and heart trouble for years (she died of a heart attack), my next-younger sister Donna’s had diabetes for some years now, and my third-youngest sister had a heart attack 8 or 10 years ago. Not the kind of history that will cheer a cardiologist! Also I had cancer (1980), leukemia (2014-6) and Rose died of cancer last December.

After I’d done the treadmill stress test, he said there were some little irregularities and thought I might have a bit of plaque in my veins. I’d already told him I never take aspirin because it makes my veins pop, but he prescribed the low-dose “baby aspirin.” Well, maybe…

Nope. I’m getting blue. I have an odd – and very itchy – wiggly line that marks a vein on my tummy for several inches. Yesterday I had a bruise on the sole of my foot and when I was doing my hair I noticed a huge pink “blush” circling my elbow, which has now turned to a gray-brown bruise. I won’t think about what internal bruising I may have — that would really make me ‘blue’. So I’m unilaterally un-prescribing the aspirin.

ANOTHER TYPE OF GROUSE

The small wood to the east of our home hosts a variety of birds. A family of grouse, likely ensconced in the shelter of the trees at night, wanders through our yard now and then. I’m not sure if they are corybantic (beside themselves with joy) at the chance to run around in the open, but it delights us to watch them.

About five days ago I happened to glance out the back window toward the newly harvested field behind the house. Between our trailer and the field is a strip of lawn and some small trees we’ve planted; there I spotted a group of small grouse frolicking and sparring with each other and generally enjoying life. A few moments later they’d heard the call to smarten up and get ready to move. All heads went up, they gathered in a group and advanced across our lawn.

Yesterday morning Bob called me to look out the window and there they were again, advancing across our driveway. He grabbed the binoculars while I tried to get a head-count as they straggled across the road, snatching at fallen seeds. I counted sixteen initially, and the same number later with the binoculars. They wandered among the poplars for a few minutes, then mom must have ordered a march. Their heads all went up, all facing south, and they scurried down the driveway.

I’m calling them lesser prairie chickens because of their red “neck sacks” when they flashed at one another. Apparently these are considered an endangered species, and rare, so we were quite privileged to see them.

Because it’s been so dry, I’ve put dishes of water in the garden: two deep dinner plates and a huge plant saucer. They empty out quite fast since the birds use them to bathe in as well as drink from; I clean and fill them twice a day. I can call it the tax I must pay for having the birds linger in our yard.

I wonder if the grouse have been drinking there, too? The smaller birds must be harvesting the local bushes, as I always find a number chokecherry seeds in the bottom of the plates. Yesterday I noticed the water from the cat’s bowl outside had been splashed all over the tiles, indicative that some birds had been having fun. The garden plates were empty, but the smaller birds have discovered the cat’s bowl and occasionally use it as their fountain. I saw a magpie drinking out of it one day, too.

Anyway, enough said about bruises and grouse. On now to dinner and house. 🙂

The Constant Sea

Image by K Moser — Pixabay

The salt smell of the sea, the foamy breakers, the incessant screaming of the gulls in their wild play. These familiar sights and sounds soothe old Matt as he walks along the beach. When life is out of kilter he wanders down to the beach again to watch that constant rolling reminder that life goes on. There’s something solid about the sea. The thought makes him smile. It’ll be here ’til the end of time.

He delights in recalling the days of long ago when he worked with his uncles on the Doughty Daisy before a vicious storm tossed her on the rocks. He sees again the line of fishing boats heading out to sea, imagines the wind, the spray, the thrill of it all when, as a young deck hand, he was part of the crew harvesting the sea.

He thinks of the wild storms that held them in port for several days – or worse, swept down on them while they were filling their nets. All hands on deck back then, fighting to ride the waves and keep the equipment – and each other – from washing overboard. Those were the days when you worked, boy!

The fishing isn’t good now, the new crews tell him. Too many fish harvested by the factory ships; stocks haven’t had a chance to replenish like they should. Cod are about gone, they say, and rarely do you find the big tuna anymore.

He turns to watch the gulls wheeling, ever on the lookout for some tasty gift from the sea, and squabbling over it when they find it. Ah, now they’ve spotted something further up the beach. A couple of gulls have landed beside it, one’s carefully inspecting it while the other argues “finders-keepers” with his mates in the air.

“Now what do you suppose those birds have found?” Matt slowly makes his way over to the spot. By the time he gets there the gulls have flown away. He looks down and laughs. A tube of Paradise Suntan Lotion – Economy size. Just what he needs. He sticks it in his pocket; there’s a trash can up along the walkway.

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: INCESSANT
Your Daily Word Prompt: SUPPOSE