Bishops Beach on Sunday

For some people, the story of resurrection begins with a cross. For me, it begins with song.

Yesterday morning, walking the dog beneath a grey sky, collar turned up against a chill breeze, I heard the first calls of the varied thrush. That single flutelike tone that burrs close to buzz at the end. A watery sound that means the season has turned.

And though it is not yet the pleasantly green, budding part of spring (indeed right now graupel is setting all the winter dried leaves to tremble), the world is filled with light.  I walked on the beach without gloves.

This time of year requires persistence. Belief that bluebells are pushing up beneath the layers of rumpled alder leaves. Belief that the soil is warming, that soon I will be able to seed radishes. Belief that the fiddleheads will push up like brown knuckles and then unfurl into fronds.

Belief that I, too, am shaking off winter’s dreaming and now turn to doing. Turn to pencil on page. Turn to writers in residence at Storyknife and writers preparing for the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference. Like ice that breaks apart all at once on a creek that swells with melt rush.

Vernal Equinox

Daughters, in the wind’s boisterous roughing,
Pray the tickle’s equal to the coat tearing,
And the wearing equal to the puffing,
As you match breath and tugging after the winter
In the thaw and the first heat of the sun’s splinter.

In your first ramble, daughters, with your laughing
Loosed from the freeze when the grass is seeping,
Save your dimpled knees in the headstrong leaping.
And under his cloak, if you run with the north wind
When there is the smell of hibernation in him
And the black half frozen waters of a dam,
Watch for his cruelty, he traps the lamb.

Daughters under the birches in the green weeping,
In the rain and lightning of the west wind’s keeping,
Daughters, does, with tawny flanks shy stamping,
Nibble his water-quick land with your hoofs tamping,

And dance, do not rest, or he’ll have you sleeping.
And daughters whose hearts are going
Higher, higher with your wild hair blowing
Into his high riding giant’s bellows,
Observe the tremble of the weeping willows.

~ Ruth Stone

2 Responses

  1. Pat Livecchi

    Love this. The Varied Thrush – an Eva bird! I believe the quote below is from Eva’s Becoming Earth.

    If the coastal spruce forest has a voice, this is it, varied thrush calls sketching an acoustic self-portrait of the landscape. . . . How did I ever grasp time and home without these markers? . . . The same bird, over and over, year after year, it’s song pinning me more tightly to this landscape, thousands of miles away from my birthplace, and I’m more greedy than ever for it.

  2. Pat Livecchi

    And I found this from Watershed Review 2014…just a cut from the whole.


    At almost-fifty, can I love my age? Do I understand my 49-year-old heart? If only there were a field guide for the other side of fifty, with handsome illustrations, and a handy checklist in the back. Menopause: check. Empty nest: check. Death of first parent: check. Mammogram: check. Breast cancer: check. At forty-six, I was diagnosed. Spring, and birthdays, and time, and light, and mud, and age—my old field guides are obsolete.

    May 6

    The field guide to birds tells me nothing I don’t already know about spring’s second migrant, the varied thrush. The bird says:

    (tzzzzeeee) (tzzzzzeee)3


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