October 1, 2020. Judith writes:
Just when we thought the human news could not get any worst: this week it did.
Do we really need to make a list to remind how bad it has gotten? The vitriol and ranting during the presidential debates set a new low. Fears are being stoked about the intersection of the flu season and the ongoing Covid epidemic. There is rampant unemployment with uncertainty roiling the financial markets. Fires are burning throughout the West. The air is a thick mix of fog and smoke, laden, claustrophobic. Even wearing a mask, rather than a being about taking care of yourself, and others has been politicized.
It’s hard to not feel depressed. Amidst the gloom of these sad and challenging times we need to find ways to heal from the psychopathic politicians and greedy corporations.
Last evening, the birds did it. The Golden-Crowned Sparrows were right on time. At dusk we heard that familiar trill, whistled notes descending in tone, announcing “hey, honey, I’m back.” Back from their summer trip to Alaska, three thousand miles back to here to winter over; their arrival is so reassuring, reminding that even if the human world is in trouble, birds will continue to sing out. Just listen…
October 1, 2020. Richard writes:
After cycling through a series of calamities—death of parents, surgery, house fire, car wreck, adolescent children, remnants of a divorce, all of which left me an insomniac turning in sweaty sheets. To palliate the anxiety, I began memorizing poetry. With over 100 poems in my noggin, I began a series of public performances dressed in a getup that would remind you of an old Wurlitzer. I thought I was done with the performing and tossed the thing into the cleansing fire of Burning Man. Turns out I was not done. Three weeks later, having written scant little, I wrote my first poem: The Golden Crowned Sparrow Returns October First
As a side note, my sister-in-law sent the poem off to a poetry contest. I won 3rd prize and a bronze medal appeared in my mailbox. Yay! the medal was followed by daily emails asking me why I wasn’t forthcoming with $149.95 to buy the Claret Cup with my name engraved. Then a plea wondering why I wasn’t buying the leather-bound volume including my poem complete with a CD recording of my poem intoned by none other than William Shatner. Oh, Fame you fickle mistress….I did go on to win a couple of cash awards and an invitation to read at the Bolinas Museum. An outdoor venue in the courtyard, where on a branch above my head 3 Golden-Crowned Sparrows appeared as though scripted into the event.
The Golden-Crowned Sparrow Returns October First
Up at dawn.
Dawdling in bed on the phone talking with a birder friend.
The window’s open to the sky opalescent pink and soft green.
I say to my birder friend,
“I’m getting a little impatient for the return of the golden crowned sparrow song” such a syrupy liquid sound
in the October mornings around these parts
a three note slightly off key Three Blind Mice.
They come all the way from their summer of love,
an Alaskan tundra vacation.
All this way to me on a few feathers.
“Gee, I’m taking this personally.”
descent of three notes is a real intimation of the slow coast toward
winter damp, dark, as an uplifting
souvenir of my first morning in this house,
an October 1st landing spot in 1992,
home again after a couple of years
of my own unsettled migrations.
Kidding around with my birder buddy I say
“They have until October 1st or they’ll be trouble, I’ll file a report.”
That song is their bird language
melancholy and a token of life’s renewal.
A trophy for me.
But really their song is for them alone
nothing in it for me
nothing of longing
nothing of heartsickness at mortality
and finally nothing for me but for the fact
that they really did show up October first.
In 2012 Richard wrote Ming’s Return. Amelia returned and once again, so did the Golden-Crowned Sparrows.
So here we are on October 1, 2020 and those little puff balls of zeal showed up.