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Archive for the ‘Spring Migrations’ Category

How to Long for Heaven?

How to long for Heaven

When Earth is moist with Spring

And in the swamp

The peepers’ anthems ring?

What Rapture

Without that rapture of returning geese,

And season on season

Without surcease?

My Lord is here,

Visible in Sun and rain,

Audible in growing wind

Across the plain.

Margaret Longenecker Been, ©1973

POET’S NOTE:  I do long for Heaven, every time I read a newspaper or watch the news on TV—or hear of human suffering around the world.  Many times a week I pray, “Thy Kingdom come” and “Come, Lord Jesus”.

Yet God is His creative mercy and grace gives us glimpses of Heaven on a daily basis.  All we need to do is look at the sky, and we are lifted to another, richer dimension.  And when winter suddenly turns to spring, the message of Resurrection is overwhelmingly clear!  Our Lord is here!  His visible return is simply  a matter of time.  MLB

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Resurrection hymns

resound on melting lake . . .

The Canadas are back

_________________________________

Heaven is ringing

with songs of northbound geese

breaking up the winter

_________________________________

Heartless euphoria . . .

soon we’ll dash out blithering

Oh, Oh, Spring!

 

Margaret Longenecker Been, ©2006

Published in BRUSH STROKES, Word Paintings by Margaret Longenecker Been, Elk River Books, Phillips, Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

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An ornamental crab tree twists and turns outside our south facing windows.  The first summer we were here, Mother Robin built a nest within eye level and it was easy to spot hungry little beaks poking above the intricate basket work of the nest.  That nest came down the following winter in a violent storm, and we wondered if there would be another in its place. 

When spring came, we heard lots of musical commotion in the tree, but could see no signs of a nest.  Yet there was chirping for weeks, and there had to be birds there.  When the leaves came down last fall, we discovered the nest—high in the tree where only a giant could see.  So our ornamental tree is definitely a favorite spot.

For decades I’ve been combing my long hair out of brushes and combs, and saving it to distribute under trees in the spring.  I begin saving the hair in August, when the birdsong has diminished and nesting days are over.  By the following May, I have a commodious bag of hair to contribute to avian ecology.  For years, the hair in my bird bag was red, brownish, or blonde for an obvious reason.  Now our resident Mrs. Robin builds with  a “crown of glory”, my hoary white hair.  I’ve given up on the Loreal® dyed coiffure.  The dye fumes were bugging my asthma. 

(My friend, Elaine, has a beauty salon in her home, on an acre which resembles a park with gorgeous trees and shrubbery.  Elaine saves all her sweepings from hair cuts, for the birds’ nests.  She says her trees contain the most gorgeous, colorful nests imaginable!) 

I have enjoyable reasons for wearing long hair at this stage of.  Long hair is far easier to manage and control than short.  Since I love being a girl, looking my best means more and more to me as the years go by!*  And suppling nesting material for spring housing projects provides additional rationale for hair.  Long hair is literally “for the birds”.   :)

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

*Note:  I’ve always maintained that, were I to lose hair due to illness or decrepity I would purchase a couple of long hair wigs:  one straight and Earth Mother Hippie-ish, and another curly and voluptuous like the hair on the old style Nashville singers.  Maybe I could get a Crystal Gale wig, with hair swinging between my ankles! 

Life is short!  Let’s have fun!!!

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If I were Julie Andrews alias Maria, I might be running around trilling “The skies are alive with the sound of music . . . ”  The skies and also the trees, bushes, telephone wires, and roof tops!

The excitement of these days just before and weeks after the vernal equinox will never fade in my heart and mind!  Every time I go outdoors with Baby Dylan, I’m thrilled anew.  When the days warm up, the window in our bedroom will be open to the early morning chorus.  We’ll never turn on our air conditioning for that and other reasons!  When wonderful things happen, we want to experience them!

The snow has melted off the path around our park, and Dylan and I have resumed our walks there.  Overhead we hear the Canadas announcing their travel agenda—and the mellow, reedy “Halloooo, hallooo, hallooo” of sandhill cranes high in the sky. 

Robins are chortling in the treetops.  For weeks now, we’ve heard the “Chick-a-dee-dee-dee” of the you know what—that sweet, fat, and friendly little bird.

The mourning dove is “Whooo-whooo-ing”.  The cardinal has cheered us all winter with his color; now he is “Cheer-cheer-cheer-ing” us with his territorial song.  Juncoes are leaving to go way north, and a variety of sparrows are returning to warble and chip on rooftops. Ducks are gabbling overhead.  The skies are alive!

However, on New Year’s Eve of this year and shortly after, the skies over Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas broadcasted not life but death!  I’ve been trying to find answers for that avian tragedy which struck early this year—a tragedy concerning one of my most beloved birds!  Here is a clip from New York Magazine

5,000 Dead Blackbirds Hit Something Very Hard

How and why did 5,000 redwing blackbirds fall from the sky at once on January 1?  It’s the question keeping America up at night.  A preliminary report released Monday evening said the birds showed evidence of trauma in the breast tissue, with blood clots in the body cavity and a lot of internal bleeding, and likely all died from “massive trauma.”  Biologist Karen Rowe told CNN that bird trauma is often caused by a lightning strike, heavy storm, or high-altitude hail, although the signs of trauma may have also been caused by the force of hitting the ground.  Or they may have gotten startled by something and flown into a house, tree, or each other. But then there’s this detail:  Blackbirds do not normally fly at night, and it was not immediately clear what caused the odd behavior. 

The report continues:  Loud noises were reported shortly before the birds began falling, according to the game and fish commission.  “The birds obviously hit something very hard and had hemorrhages,”  Rowe said. 

Here is another report, from www.msnbc.msn.com/ : 

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor:  We mentioned this earlier and we’re back now with the puzzling story of a massive kill of wildlife in the state of Arkansas—birds falling out of the sky, the result of some sort of trauma, and fish found dead in the water, thousands of them in separate incidents in the same state.  We get our report tonight from NBC ‘s Janet Shamlian in Beebe, Arkansas 

JANET SHAMLIAN reporting:  They rain down on a small Arkansas town like a scene from a horror movie.  Thousands of dead black birds on front lawns, and so many in the street, drivers could barely avoid them.  As many as 5,000 bird carcasses littered across a one-mile radius after dropping from the sky on New Year’s Eve.  What could have caused it?  As the state veterinarian examined the birds today, theories have run the gambit from their being hit by lightning or high altitude hail to being spooked to death by New Year’s Eve fireworks. 

Beyond the birds and adding to the mystery, there was a massive fish kill also here in Arkansas just one day earlier.  As many as 100,000 drum fish are dead along a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River.  The experts call it coincidence.  Wildlife officials say the fish likely died of disease, not a pollutant.  Janet Shamlian, NBC News, Beebe, Arkansas.

BEEBE, Ark:  Preliminary autopsies on 17 of the up to 5,000 blackbirds that fell on this town indicate they died of blunt trauma to their organs, the state’s top veterinarian told NBC News on Monday.  Their stomachs were empty, which rules out poison, Dr. George Badley said, and they died in midair, not on impact with the ground.  That evidence, and the fact that the red-winged blackbirds fly in close flocks, suggests they suffered some massive midair collision, he added.  That lends weight to theories that they were startled by something.  Violent weather rumbled over much of the state Friday.  Lightning could have killed the birds directly or startled them to the point that they became confused.  Hail also has been known to knock birds from the sky.

One website stated that some of the redwings were sent to Madison, Wisconsin, for further testing, but I cannot find any more info on that.  Meanwhile, not all the redwings are gone!  On March 6th, Joe and I upheld a tradition:  we went to Whitewater, Wisconsin where we first see the redwings  in Southern Wisconsin, in a swamp behind RANDY’S SUPPER CLUB (where we then get excellent prime ribs).
 
What a joyous sight, and sound!  When the redwings arrive in Jefferson County, we can expect to hear them in our county a few days later.  And guess what?  A few days ago, we did.  Yes, the redwings are here—staking out territories high in the trees* and thrilling us out of our shoes with their gorgeous sky music, “Oka-leeeeeeee”!
 

*Note:  I have read that the redwing males arrive first and stake out their nesting territory.  Then the females arrive, and choose the homesite they prefer—taking whatever mate goes along with the site.  That strikes me as hilarious!  I wonder who wears the pants in the redwing culture!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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“One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.”  Aldo Leopold, A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC

Sunday, as I was coming out from church, I saw 4 Canadas overhead—travelers with an agenda.  They were heading due north.  They were the gigantic Canadas, the kind pictured above at our northern home, not the wussie little ones that remain in open ponds around Southern Wisconsin all winter.  (Actually, the little ones are not so wussie.  They’re opting to brave the cold rather than fly to balmy Texas gulf shores.)

Although farmers get fed up with Canada geese camping in cornfields, I’ll never get my fill of these harbingers of change.  Up north, we watch them raise their families, as flotillas of Canada (not “Canadian”) geese cruise in our bay.  The Canadas pass up our wild yard, and head for our neighbor Jack’s green lawn.  Jack mows and cultivates real grass—the better for eating and pooping upon, my dear.  We’ve had countless chuckles over Jack’s goose yard, and the price he pays for trying to have a suburban golf course type spread in the otherwise gorgeous north woods!  

Mating for life, the Canadas are diligent parents.  When we canoe up the Elk River in summer, invariably a papa goose will soar out in front of us—flying low and honking like there is no tomorrow, in an effort to divert us from his family nesting nearby.

Now, advancing into March, we’ll see hundreds of straight Vs fly over in the days ahead.  The wavy lines in the sky will be the snow geese, another thrilling species of migrating birds.  March brings excitement to anyone with open eyes and ears!

Every March, I recall high school days and the soothsayer’s warning to Julius Caeser:  “Beware the ides of March”, in Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESER—read by most every student in his or her sophomore year. 

Over recent years I’d forgotten what the “ides of March” were—but I recently asked my friend Wikipedia, and he bailed me out.  (How great to have ready reference to the many questions that surface every day and week!)  Here is the answer, which probably most of you readers already know: 

“Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martii) is the name of 15 March in the Roman calendar, probably referring to the day of the full moon. The term ides was used for the 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other months.[1] The Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars and a military parade was usually held. In modern times, the term Ides of March is best known as the date that Julius Caesar was killed in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was stabbed (23 times) to death in the Roman Senate led by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus and 60 other co-conspirators.”  Wikipedia

Since I have a “chain link” mind—one link leading to another—I couldn’t help musing over the fine quality of education which we received in the 1940s and early 1950s.  The teachers in my high school (in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa) were dedicated to their subjects.  They had been classically trained in their discipline of choice, and they had not been burdened with the necessity of focusing on “studies” in “learning how to teach”.*

An abject passion for English literature, history, chemistry, or whatever, made for good teachers—and immersion in academics created excellence in the classroom.  I know that my high school English teacher, Julia Henninger, was far more wrapped up in Shakespeare and Milton than in whatever material benefits she may or may not have been receiving for her life’s work.  I am thankful for the education I received in school, and for the awareness of history and classical literature that resulted from my privilege of growing up in a family of serious readers.

To tie up this nebulous ramble, by the ides of March we’ll probably have seen many more of those thrilling northbound travelers!

Margaret L. Been©2011

*I went off to Colorado University in 1951, armed with a passion for English and French language and literature.  By the time I enrolled in my sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, I realized that in order to teach I would have to take so many “education” classes that I wuld not have the freedom to immerse myself deeply into all the English and French classes I craved.

So I simply continued in my areas of passion.  I accrued more than the English and French credits required for a double major by the time I left school (after completing the first semester of my junior year) to embark on the amazing career of raising 6 children.  And I’ve never stopped reading!

When we love to read and learn, we continually grow.  Self-education may not put us in the upper echelons of Corporate America pay scale, but it definitely provides a varied and in-depth education.  As long as we have libraries, self-education is free and available to all Americans.

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