Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hello Starling

They finally cut the corn in the field across from the house and yesterday morning I awoke to a strange "whoosh" and avian cackle--the field was now filled with blackbirds and starlings. The black of the birds and the gray of both the sky and the leafless woodlot background, set off the golden hues in the corn stubble and the rich green of the still lush grass--it was just breath taking.The energy embodied in the flock of birds that can go from chaotic to organized and flowing in an instant was just as amazing.
Blackbirds and starlings remind me of one of my favorite albums Hello Starling by folk-rocker Josh Ritter. The album is rich with allusions to birds,flying, wings--and includes the bright and cheery "Snow is Gone" with its chorus--hello blackbird hello starling winter's over be my darling. Ironically, as the flock of blackbirds left the field it suddenly started to snow. I came inside to try and find a youtube video of "Snow is Gone" but instead found a wonderful NPR collaboration between Josh Ritter and classical violinist Hillary Hahn--the resulting musical experience seemed much more appropriate to the new winter weather.

So I leave you with Mary Oliver's beautiful poem "Starlings in Winter," enjoy the snow and the starlings.

Starlings in Winter

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

~ Mary Oliver ~

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