Why the blackbird sings after supper

Three days after Easter I see my first red-winged blackbird by the river.

I was sitting on the porch after supper. It was my son who spotted them first, and told me, face flushed with excitement. Then I realized I had been hearing them for the last ten minutes, but my eyes had been focused elsewhere. I hadn’t recognized them.

As soon as I begin to scan the bushes, I see him. He perches in the young sugar maple, calls loudly, and ruffles his bright patched wing as if to say, “Look! It is me. I am here!”

Birdsong of all kinds sounds through the mist of the chilly evening, giving the valley a hidden, intimate feel. An eagle appears from the blurred edges, noiseless, a shadow that merges into other shadows of spruce upstream. But I am fixed on the flash and fortissimo of red by the river.

Why do birds sing in the evening? A dozen reasons there may be, shrouded in mystery, to my understanding at least. But I know one of them.

The red-winged blackbird sings after supper to remind me that spring comes to every valley, and my own shall be exalted.

~

Lindsey Gallant

S.D.G.

Kingfisher

{A concussion recovery post}

I saw the kingfisher for the first time today, and I cried.

He flew onto the dead ash tree from somewhere downstream, and I recognized him by the dart of his wing and the shape of his head.

I can’t remember the word for that shape of a bird’s head.

Russet. Ruff. Crown. Crest.

Crest. That’s it.

I find it by slow association.

So many words seem to have flown clear out of my brain. Or perhaps not out, but somewhere further in, behind a wall of protection. Like gates shut up for fear of flood.

They are in there and I have to coax them out, or sit silent enough on a stump till I seem part of the riverbank to them.

Nothing now is on demand in my brain.

It’s a live stream, and I have to wait for the current to bring me what I seek.

Only sometimes the crested bird flashes into view before I even know how much I needed to see him.

I reach for the camera in my pocket, but he sees my elbow twitch and is gone before I capture proof of his presence.

There are just bare grey branches and the blue spring sky, and the river, quivering.

~

Lindsey

S.D.G.

View

It’s been very difficult to write post-concussion. My visual system is one of the main areas that’s been affected. I’ve been keeping a little notebook handy to jot down thoughts when they come. Sometimes the gap between the penciled words and published words is rather long! It’s April 8 as I hit publish, though I am backdating the post itself to March 12 to reflect the timeline of my recovery.

~

Through the narrow gap in the curtains
I see
A woodpecker excavating
A blue jay observing
A mourning dove resting
A chickadee cracking a seed.

All this through a narrow central field of vision,
my weakest focal point.

And how great a mercy that all have gathered here,
so my weak eyes do not have to wander to find a picture of joy.

Now I can close them
and have the beauty within,
a knowing without seeing.

~

Lindsey Gallant

S.D.G.

Molasses in February

The page is before me. Blank.

My words are like dried molasses in the corners of the carton. I need the sweetness to pour, but all I can do is hold the container upside down and wait. The spoon is shiny, concave in expectation. It trembles in my hand, next to the open spout. What I thought I had within me will not come out. I squeeze and tap, shake and coax. I prop it up against the canister of flour, balance it on the open mouth of the spoon. I can do nothing but wait.

The recipe sits unfinished. The oven is preheated. The goods promised. The appetite whetted. How long will this take?

I have a name for this slowness now that at first was only a confusing cluster of dysfunction in my body. Concussion. My pen feels clumsy in my fingers. The screen hurts my eyes if I stare at it. My mind is off-balance somehow, and it scares me a little, four weeks in. The words won’t come, though I can still sense their presence.

It has taken time and tears just to put these phrases together, and now I am tired. Hungry, too. But I am molasses in February.

~

Lindsey Gallant

S.D.G.

Happy New Today

If processing a whole year retrospectively is too much, or purposing for a whole year ahead is too overwhelming, take heart.

There is today, and that is the only time you need hold in this moment.

Today there are new mercies.
Today there is breath.
Today there is love poured into your heart, and plenty of opportunity to love those next to you.
Today there are small wonders which hint at a bountiful mystery.

Today, in my life, there is a blooming white hyacinth, and I give thanks.
Today, in my house, there are four other people in my fellowship, and I give thanks and ask for grace to love them well.
Today, out my window, there are a handful of chickadees chirping a song of resiliency, and I choose to smile.
Today, there are dishes to be washed, and messages to write, and books to read, and laundry to fold, and children to listen to, and puzzles to solve, and I am not sure I have enough hands.

But chickadees face the winter one seed at a time, and hyacinths will not be rushed, and a single smile can make time stand still and reveal its hidden gifts.

There is a holy Breath hovering near, blessing the moments lived in simple faith.

Breathe, and be the person you need to be today. It is enough.

~

Lindsey Gallant

S.D.G.