Like last summer. We found a Northern Parula Warbler lying on our little side porch. She was a beautiful little bluish coloured bird with a yellow throat and breast and two white bars on her wings. We looked her up and discovered that our area is definitely part of her breeding range. I also read that they like to nest in moist woodsy areas. BINGO. That’s our woods to a tree. Moist and mossy.
Sue brought out a box with a cloth inside. She thought it might be like a nest to the little feller. It wasn’t. To the bird it was a jail or a superbug-infested hospital room and when I tried to gently place her into the box, she fluttered away and landed on the edge of our porch railing. Then she just sat there and sat there and sat there. Perched precariously on the edge, looking around and, as I said, sitting there.
That got us into a caucus meeting. Should we go and try the box out again? We deliberated and discussed and watched the little fella through our window, just sitting there and not doing much of anything. A motion was passed, which we put into a birdie omnibus bill, which said that we should, once again, retrieve the box and put clean water in the nest along with a bowl of black oil sunflower seeds.
It was also passed that we place the hospital room/King Cole Tea box into the woodshed where we figured the poor little bird would be comforted by Skippy the squirrel. Who we’re sure has now finished building her condo in the back of our firewood pile.
We also passed 100 other motions that had no relation to birds, so if anyone votes against our omnibus bill, we can accuse them of voting against the welfare of our birds. Democracy is alive and well in Cape Breton.
But guess what? All the plans of men and mice were for naught. The tiny chickadee looked through our window at us, with what looked like a thank you in his eyes, and then he looked up into the sky and whoosh! He was soaring off towards the trees.
Thinking it over, I would have to say that the chickadee had been down for the ten count. We should have put the little bird in the corner, given her a shot of water from a water bottle, dried her off with a towel and given her a pep talk. “You go out there, keep your left up and punch with your right.”
I phoned Ms. Kent one afternoon and told her about some of the birds we’d seen at our feeders. Two exciting sightings were a brightly coloured Baltimore Oriole and a Red Bellied Woodpecker.
The Red Bellied Woodpecker and the Baltimore Oriole are outside their ranges. The Oriole not so far outside but I believe the Red Bellied Woodpeckers are supposed to be found south of the Great Lakes, a long way from Cape Breton. But with the climate warming thing going on, these sightings are probably just going to become more common, as long as these critters can survive our rush for lower taxes, greater wealth and higher productivity. For some fascinating information about red-bellied woodpeckers, look here: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/red-bellied_woodpecker/lifehistory
Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?”
William Blake, A Memorable Fancy
And if we’re perceptive, we’ll take a good look at these universal gems and see them as important messengers for our pilgrimage through this earthly gift of life. Maybe clearing out some of the stifling socialization defaults we’ve been hobbled with.
The universe seems cramped to you and me.
Man acts more like the poor bear in a cage
That all day fights a nervous inward rage,
His mood rejecting all his mind suggests.”
Robert Frost, The Bear
As a writer, I deal in connections, happenstance, and surprise. And much like love, these things are not easy to codify. Thank God for that.
Because, if you too closely observe them through your logical microscope, there’s a good chance your desperate need to rationalize them into a neat bundle will get your brain all fired up and sweaty. Your brain warmth might then heat up and melt away these communications until they become only troublesome storm clouds lurking in the back of your subconscious.
That’s why I call my efforts at marketing, “soft marketing”. It’s loosely based on this happenstance theory. Because I know if I start too intensely pushing and jawing away about my writing, and if I start putting its source under rational scrutiny, then it’s bye-bye gut thoughts.
So, as with my marketing approach, it’s my responsibility to look at these surprises and connections and try to understand them, but it behooves me to approach them with child-like wonder and humility.
We haven’t really tried too hard to get something done about the flooding. We have even been told that we aren’t doing enough about the flooding. I call this soft flood marketing.
However, one day, the universe threw out a line of opportunity. Nudge, nudge, Larry, pay attention kind of thing.
This particular day I was hiking towards the trail that leads up the mountain. A man in a red pick-up passed me by. He parked in a field. Jumped out of the truck with a fishing rod.
We got talking. During the conversation I offered him the opportunity to salmon fish in our salmon pool, which the river had so kindly created, without a yes or a no from us.
At one point, the man pulled a cigar out of his pocket and reached for his lighter. “Damn it,” he said. “I forgot my lighter.”
I took off my knapsack, opened it up, pulled out a lighter and gave him the cigar starter.
Anyway, that’s when the fella told me he was a fishery enforcement officer. Then he told me that he would drop around sometime and look at our river and see how the river was treating our property. He said that after he made his visit, he would send out an official who would make suggestions as to what we could do about the flooding.
Of course, I now need to follow up. Phone him and remind him of the conversation. I mean I don’t just let the ocean roll over me without my helping it along.
Now, here comes the coincidence and surprise and being synched-in stuff I was talking about. Although this encounter was already a happenstance kind of thing.
At one point, the fisher person, (did I say that correctly?), told me that every year he wraps a salmon tag around a birch tree, at a certain place along the Middle River. It sounded like a ceremony of sorts. Maybe keeping a connection to a place he loved.
Have you followed the connections so far? How connections and happenstance and circumstance can create a story? A real story which can’t be imagined?
A few days later, we looked out of our living room window and saw two aliens walking around in the river. They looked like two salmon, who had undergone a pop-in-the-microwave-evolutionary burst and grown two feet and two arms and a head like ours. However, after careful observation, we realized they were two skin divers. Probably looking for relics and interesting things tossed into the river.
See what’s happening? Are you watching the connections here?
Anyway, I hiked to my meditation place along the Middle River. There I sat on my tiny hiking chair and listened, smelled, observed and thought about unbelievably deep things. Ha.
Suddenly, I heard voices. I turned around and there were the two evolutionary-salmon guys walking towards me. Wearing the full skin diver outfit. It was un-nerving seeing these fellas pop out of the bush.
Do you know what they were planning on doing after they plunged into the water and let the river float them away? Their heads underwater and their feet thrashing from time to time? They were counting salmon.
Do you know who they worked for? The Fisheries and Oceans.
You see what I mean? It’s like the universe throws these themes out and you don’t have to be too far above dense, or below it for that matter, to know that there are these connections going on.
Guess what else I saw?
Wrapped around a thin birch tree, in the Middle River Wilderness Area, was a blue salmon fishing tag. Are you counting the odds here?
To the bosom of God’s great ocean.
Don’t set your force ‘gainst the river’s course
And think to alter its motion.
Don’t waste a curse on the universe--
Remember it lived before you.
Don’t butt at the storm with your puny form,
But bend and let it go o’er you.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox, As You Go Through Life
“Your fish stories hang together
when they’re just a pack of lies:
you ought to have a leather medal:
you ought to have a statue
carved of butter: you deserve
a large bouquet of turnips.”
“There were no Christians among the early Gauls;
they were mostly lawyers.”
From ‘The People, Yes’, Carl Sandburg