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.
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?
“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.
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. 🙂
Sunday morning church bell
calling the flock to the pews
for an early blessing.
The sleepy raven complains,
its peaceful rest disturbed
by the unearthly clang, clang.
Who can sleep through that?
Saturday morning and the flock
sleep in after a fun Friday night.
But a raven’s stridently
yawping the news: successful
pre-dawn foraging of a tabby –
who should be sharing but isn’t.
Who can sleep through that?
Your Daily Word prompt for today: YAWP
(to squawk, clamor, complain)
The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is DECEIVING
Sleep eluded me at the crack of dawn this morning; I woke up at 4:30 and my muse wouldn’t go back to sleep. I began thinking about an article I want to write soon and lines and phrases started coming to me. That for sure took my sleep away.
I wandered into the kitchen and looked out the east window, wanting to see how much daylight had conquered the darkness at this point. There was a glow on the eastern horizon, but what got my attention was the amazing sight in the heavens. I actually went outside into the driveway to get a better look.
The moon was a glowing sliver, but I could see the shadow of the whole moon. And there was this huge, brilliant star to the right of, and higher in the sky than, the moon. Was it the planet Jupiter, so brilliantly shining? Or was it a close satellite deceiving me into thinking it was a planet? Looking around I saw a larger reddish star and wondered if it was Mars. I’m familiar with the birds that fly through our skies, but have never made a special study of the planets to know one from the other on sight.
In any case, I stood outside for awhile just watching, as the glow of dawn slowly crept up to meet the moon. I had to think of the star the wise men saw announcing the birth of “the King of the Jews.” Did they actually follow it all the way, as some Bible stories say? Or was it simply a signal and they proceeded to Jerusalem because, where else would one look for the King of the Jews?” Was the star as brilliant as the one I saw this morning — or even more?
Another “natural phenomenon” I witnessed yesterday evening after I got home from doing supper at the Villa. This sight was out the west window. I noticed a lot of tiny chattering and whirring; when I glanced out I saw several humming birds whizzing around. And a couple more came. And a couple more came. Were my eyes deceiving me?
We’ve had five around our feeders lately, but some others must have come in from elsewhere. I counted for sure seven, probably eight. (Hard to count zipping whirling bids as they chase each other away from the feeders!) And they were all at the two feeders by the side door. It dawned on me the feeder by the front door must be empty, so they were all crowded around these two. At one point five little hummers settled in a circle, slurping away at the bigger feeder.
Tanking up for their long journey ahead. Oh, I will miss them!
Thinking of our birds going and seeing the crops ripening reminds me that winter will be here all too soon. So I’ve decided that this week my special project is going to be fitness & exercise. Less hit-or-miss; more proper bends & stretches; getting up early in the morning and going for a walk — hopefully before the mosquitoes wake up. 🙂
Wish me courage. I really want to do this — and I hope I’m not just deceiving myself. 😉
Here’s a quick little verse I’ve written as a response. The flowers are still lovely, but the plants are looking a bit weary. July was on the wet side, but for the past several weeks it’s been dry. Grain fields are ripening fast and harvest will soon be going full out.
Our mornings and evenings are quite cool and we’ve had cool windy days lately. The hummingbird juvies are still amusing us with their antics around our feeder, zipping, racing, chasing, but I fear they’ll soon catch the signal to head south. Thinking of them going — and the end of summer — makes me rather melancholic.
Late Summer Sighs
Asters bobbling in the breeze,
petunia blossoms dancing,
bees prying the snapdragon jaws —
but summer is advancing.
Linger on, don’t droop and fade –
our world needs your adorning!
Robins, wrens, sing on, sing on!
Don’t mind these cooler mornings.