March 23, 2020 4:00 at the River

Published four years after her death, Emily Dickenson’s poem This is My Letter to the World captures a sense of her chosen personal isolation and her connection with the intimacies of the natural world.  This is a time when we need to all explore the realm and the depth of ourselves…soul, body and mind.

Earlier in the day, at the edge of the river and before the weather changed, I was pretty certain, as I have been for days, that there is at least one egg at the nest.  Mom is clearly in the nest bowl, her tail raised and resting on her brood patch, while Dad is slightly out of view, but present.  None of my photos are crisp, given my inability to zoom extensively, but keep in mind that I make observations of nature and I’m not knowledgeable as a photographer.  These are archival in their publication.

Late afternoon…

I stood alone on an embankment, a shelf just above the dark river water and saw the female eagle at 4:00 last evening.  I believe that the incubation for, at least, the first egg has begun.  Mother was well down into the bowl and then suddenly lifted up and out and straight toward me, suddenly arching down and piercing a duck.  All others flew up wildly out of the water while the powerful raptor circled around.  She came around to the evening ice and scooped, out of the water, the limp body of the Common Golden Eye.  I was stunned at the enormous beauty and power of the experience.

Before returning to the nest, she flew a wide victory circle, clamping her talons around what remained of her trophy.

 

Max Falls In!

By now, my readers are getting to know Max pretty well.  Yesterday, it was such an awesome autumn day…so golden-blue, that I took Max back on the loop where I once did daily walks with my Laurie-dog at the river.  The image below is a photo that I took on one of our final river walks.

Laurie and Kath 2My children and I sprinkled Laurie’s ashes along the path of his favourite walks…places he had shared with me over his 14 years.  I painted, as a result of his passing, a series called my Heaven Series, paintings that were rejected by the commercial galleries that represented me at the time, for the fact that they had ‘too much sky’.  Sigh…

September 7 2008 Max and Heaven 033I try to get Max back to these places before the snow flies and my favourite time is in the autumn.  Yesterday the yellow leaves were dancing on the ground.  There was just enough breeze and in the past couple of days the leaves have been on the change.

?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? DSC_0571Initially, Max was charged with excitement simply because we had such a steep drop into the valley and then there were gaggles of juvenile pheasants feeding in the open clearing left behind after utility and infrastructure revisions.

Interest Peeked

Interest Peeked

Poor photograph...but, yes, these are what caught his eye.

Poor photograph…but, yes, these are what caught his eye.

Where, once, I would throw sticks for Max from the broad perch of river rocks on the shore, most of the banks have dropped vertically into the water.  Max found one of the few locations on the east side of the river where dry rock could be found and there was no way I was clamouring down there, although he barked enthusiastically to prompt me.

??????????It was obvious to me that some huge shifts have happened with the river since the big Calgary flood.  For Max, these changes were not so evident.

As we continued south along the river, I think Max supposed that there were going to be some excellent locations for his activity of choice.  At one point, he took a mad dash from the path and I heard him briefly charging through the thick autumn brush and then….nothing.  Silence.  And yes…this is where he went in.  A tentative and anxious herder, Max has always loved the water, but up to his hips.  He has never had a swim.  He has always barked at sticks when they have flowed out of his easy reach.  Hmmm…this was to be a different sort of experience for him!  This is where he went in.

??????????I climbed my way through thick brush and heard his feeble cries. His situation came clear.  The current was kicking him down river, all the while his wee head was popping up and his strong legs were reaching up onto the wet, worn shoulder of the river.  Eyes, wide open, he caught sight of me and at my prompting, remained at one spot.  I urged his hard work and with a few strong efforts, he pulled himself up and into my waiting arms.

Sheesh.  Be warned!  I was a bad mama!  While on the west side of the river, I could see other families, children and dogs playing on a broad shore, there isn’t nothing of that kind on the east side.

This was excitement that we didn’t need…but, let it be known, my border collie has finally had a good swim!

Stanley Kunitz Comes to Mind

There is another fresh blanket of snow on the ground.  I have some regret that I chose not to struggle across the city streets to the last of Lawrence Hill’s sessions offered through One Book/One Calgary, but on the other hand, as I stepped out into the grey-white of today with Max, I was and am also grateful for the cozy secure feeling I have about staying home…and writing.

Above us, v after huge V formation, another and another and yet another of geese surged forward and south to some instinctual winter homeland.  I stopped dead in my tracks, so in awe of the sound of it.

And then I remembered the Stanley Kunitz poem I used to share with my students in September…a particular line about the perturbation of the light…I felt every zinging line of the poem as I looked over head.  Given my blessed proximity to the river, I will never get over the powerful movement to and from the water’s edge at certain times of the day and evening.

Geese

End of Summer By Stanley Kunitz

An agitation of the air,

A perturbation of the light

Admonished me the unloved year

Would turn on its hinge that night.

 

I stood in the disenchanted field

Amid the stubble and the stones,

Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me

The song of my marrow-bones.

 

Blue poured into summer blue,

A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,

The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew

That part of my life was over.

 

Already the iron door of the north

Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows

Order their populations forth,

And a cruel wind blows.