- Hide menu

Red Willow Spirit: A Song for an Unsettled Season

The winds of caprice rule our world now. Seventies in recent days, and again today — shorts and sandals weather, with sleeves far too warm for comfort. But today will shape up to be a day of gale-force winds, ushering in the rain and then snow promised for tomorrow. The skies are already concealing their blue behind a coalescing veil of pale gray.

Here at Red Willow, spring is the trickster time, when the only aspect of it that is predictable is its essential unpredictability. Meadowlark is its herald and its avatar, bringing and singing a song for an unsettled season.

We heard our first (and so far, only) meadowlark of the year on March thirty-first. Calendar, equinox, angle of the light — none of those matters with regard to the arrival of spring here. None of it is official until the notes of a voluble yellow bird soar across the air.

They serve as avatars and heralds in other ways, too, staking out positions above our heads, but not so high as to lose their connection to the earth. They prefer medium-high places, fenceposts, latilla poles, the tops of trees, often placing themselves opposite each other to east and west, where they engage in a day-bracketing call and response worthy of any human oral tradition.

For these are their hours, mostly: dawn and dusk, raising the day with their call and singing it to rest at night. Occasionally, they show themselves during the middle of the day; more occasionally still, they descend to the ground itself in search of sustenance. But they are beings of the upper branches, small golden sentinels to watch over the land they call home.

Even when the land is covered with snow.

They are hardy birds, and yet seemingly fragile, too. Their long, slender beaks remind me of those of the hummingbirds — long pointed daggers, more useful in the meadowlarks’ case in extracting seeds and insects from soil and snow than nectar from feeder or flower. They remind me a bit of the flickers, too, in body shape and vocal pattern, if neither color nor song. But they possess and advantage against colonizer birds such as the starlings that their woodpeckers counterparts do not: longer, stronger legs that give their bodies better ability to impose their presence on their space.

Space they are nonetheless willing to share, snow or not: with the flickers who likewise love the early  growth, and with the juncos who thrive in more wintry weather.

They may all have a chance to navigate winter again tomorrow, and next week, as well.

It is an oddity here, the sight of a meadowlark glowing golden behind the veil of wind-driven snow and sleet. They rarely show themselves so close to human habitation, preferring the relative safety of a higher remove.

But these are spirits who know well how to navigate the trickster winds of spring. They define it, confine it, lead us through it by sound and . not, with a song for an unsettled season. If they can make it, so can we.

~ Aji








All content, including photos and text, are copyright Wings and Aji, 2019; all rights reserved. Nothing herein may used or reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the owner.

Comments are closed.

error: All content copyright Wings & Aji; all rights reserved. Copying or any other use prohibited without the express written consent of the owners.