Saturday, June 16, 2012

crow's nest

The crows often sit high in the poplar tree,
  or up at the top of the front spruce tree
    or on the street light
      or perched on the mostly-dead top branch of the birch in our neighbor's yard
           announcing their domination of the neighborhood
           waking us up raucously on summer mornings
           with their hoarse coughs and incessant caws.

I kind of like it.  Reminds me of camping in Riding Mountain when I was little.

Travelling across the many miles of Saskatchewan prairie,
we have seen them flying
chased by a sparrow-sized tormentor,
   or by a flock of black birds dive bombing.
The large one leisurely dipping and rising as it flies, unfazed by the small annoyances
   slowly flapping along the prairie skyline.
Once we saw one flip over on its back for a suspended moment
as it continued its flight forward ...
a midflight cartwheel
just for the fun of it.

This year they have been quite silent in our neighborhood.  Not absent, but definitely silent.
I'd catch a shadow of wings out of the corner of my eye, hear a whisper of flight near the spruce.

When I finally heard something, it was not the noisy pronouncement of the adult crow.
It was a bizarre combination of younger coughs and squawks and throttled air as an adult flew into the top branches of the spruce. 

The parents were kept busy feeding the squawks - one parent or the other constantly coming and going.  They mostly ignored me ... except when I turned on the sprinklers.  Then I received a scolding for disrupting bed time.
The one morning when I was doing a walkabout, a nesting parent flew a wide circle coming towards me cawwing fiercely, then settled back to its post on the dead birch tree sounding its warning from a distance.  (I'm sure that my cat's company had nothing to do with that.)
I looked up to see a young one -  it had hopped out of the nest and was perched precariously on one of the arms of the top branches, teetering and madly flapping for balance.

Next day the crow's nest was empty.  No throttled sounds of babies. No sentinel in the birch sounding its harsh warning.

They are still in the neighborhood, but my spruce is no longer home. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

when it rains

When it rains, and when it thunders, we have a wonderful front porch from which to safely survey the action.  Mid-afternoon thunderstorms beckoned us outside earlier this week, and Tyler and I stood for a while in the soft rain, watching the peonies that had just begun to open, listening to the thunder echo around, watching the rain bend the heads yet again of the June blooming perennials.

My newly planted shrubs are gleefully taking it in.  I can feel their roots gathering the refreshing rain and getting limbs ready to burst outward.

My lilac fills the whole house with its fragrance if I keep the front screen open ... and its invitation was irresistable this morning.
So I have moved my computer outside; together with a willow chair that I built with a friend in Alberta, a quilt that my daughter outgrew a few years ago, and a three legged stool made for me when I turned 16 on which to set my coffee and children's ministry books for a fall class.   Took me a while to cart everything out, and settle in, and just as I had everything in place, my son drove up with some friends to take the chocolate cookies that I baked late last night for an end of the year, home room potluck.  "Isn't this rain great?" said his friend as he walked up to the house...
This is a good place to sit this morning, to think about teaching.  and children. and grandparenting.  and marriage.  and legacies.  and friendships. and the color yellow. 

I decided after a ridiculously difficult season of life, to choose the spiritual discipline of yellow.  Doesn't count, you may say.  A color is not a discipline. 
What is a spiritual discipline? 
How do I live my life, to try to align it with what I believe, to express in my own particular way, a life that follows a Creator who is really beyond my understanding,
who defies logic yet created it,
who continues to shape and create despite the determined or haphazard habits of those of us who call ourselves by his name.

How in the world do I respond to that?      
i will pray.  i will read his words.  i will journal.  i will get together with his people. 
and yellow.  bright yellow

I surveyed my closet a few weeks ago, and realized that it has become increasingly dark.
Blacks and dark browns dominate the hangers. 
My good friend has a bright yellow sweater.  She stood beside me as we sang in choir last December ... the best I could do was purple. 
really Darlene?  Purple.
I couldn't do bright.  Felt as though I was yelling at someone when I really wanted to be hiding.   

But this spring I have chosen yellow.  I wear it when I can.  I planted it. 
and God has on occasion chosen yellow for me too. 
yellow finches sing in the shorn poplar branches. 
the yellow peony blooms in the front yard. 
meadow larks with their yellow singing with abandon on Bethany Players' tour
... in gretna, and in niverville, and in steinbach
the yellow day lilies shine like stars in the back corner of the yard beside the fountain. 

I choose yellow.
It's a defiant, bright shade of yellow. 
I'm not yelling
 just declaring a different reality.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


An elderly gentleman was slowly making his way across an intersection in my part of the city. 
His clothing had an international flavor;
the color of his skin revealed more of the rich shades of our earth than mine.
He was flanked on each side by two lively black haired little boys,
  who walked oh-so-carefully beside him,
   matching their pace to his,
    holding his hands gently
    as they stepped up onto the curb
    and continued on a morning walk together.
It was not clear just who was caring for whom.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

stirrings of spring

this winter's stillness was marked by more
than a blanket of snow over my perennials
or a pause between growing seasons

the winter's white was marked ... marred
by passings
 that disturbed the snow
 left roots exposed
changed the landscape of a familiar part of my world

so in my spring walk-abouts, I have wandered often
wondering what will still survive
what will come up gladly after the winter's barrenness
what will stir in the spring
to testify again to the Lord of life

we have wandered often, my Tyler and I
looking at peonies
this one will be red
this one will be yellow, and this one pink
a little leafed lilac
this one will be purple
the irises
these will be purple
the lady slippers
they will be yellow

the peonies this spring have awoken with abandon
plants tall and strong, with a myriad of closed fisted buds

the lilac is covered with fragrant blossoms
just outside my front door

the iris is unfolding its first purple

the lady slippers revealing their yellow

... and this baby will be Logan Samuel. 
fists still tightly closed
body gradually unfolding
eyes occasionally opening to peer carefully into a new world
brother running circles around him
calling his name
bringing him treasure
to see if it belongs to him

stirrings of spring
life refuses to be locked up