FLASHBACK FRIDAY -- EPISODE 52, "A CATBIRD’S TALE"
One Tuesday…I jumped up and banged my head into the upper bunk in a fright. There was a loud flapping of wings. I peered out my window: long legs, white head and tall neck. Is this my blue heron that lives behind my cabin? Closer up, he’s taller, with a larger beak; he croaked and flew to the beaver pond.OUR
As the light grows through ochre shades into pink, then rose, I hurriedly dress so as not to miss the magic of those solitary moments before any other human is stirring, even before Al, the chef, bellows down the drive to start breakfast for the guys. I have my cup of coffee and carry one back to the deck and settle in with this journal, keeping an eye on the heron which lifts one stilt-leg tentatively and moves in slowest motion.
Here comes the sun just peaking over the eastern hill. B., I think, is moaning at my left elbow just inside the Temple door. For August it is surprisingly too cold just before dawn in his unheated Garden cabin. Slowly, the sun lights up the west face of Easton Mountain, which reflects in the pond below the first yellow leaves, spotting, also the sparse white birch tree. As the line of golden light descends to the gentle mist, rising up to met it, a crow “caw, caws”, a loon lifts off. I imagine myself, again, at the dawn of time in the old, old but ever reawakening, refreshingly new world of light; of birds and gods and monsters floating through the rose fingers of clouds; of men loving men from Homer’s time of today. I celebrate!! It seems the world of Nature here has no use for the added streams of wispy clouds strung out like loose spaghetti from the 737s streaking across the morning sky and racing the sun from East to West.
Suddenly, I’m shocked and saddened! A catbird just flew into the Temple window, dropped like a stone and died. Breathe………………….breezes………………………other birds singing……………….silence…then the catbird’s tail lifting gently, as if in life, from the pond’s breeze. I watched and waited. After five minutes of sprawled immobility, she sits up primly, tail erect; she faces me directly and silently, silently… as if studying me unafraid; she turns her head aside and twitches. Is she broken… a wing… a leg? Tail flipping, as if trying out her balance and rudder, she’s now standing solidly… and, then, flying blithely off into the trees at the side of the Temple next to the pond.
Will it be that way for me? The afterlife, I mean, with a chuckle and a reawakening, after hitting the wall head on? (But wait, she just returned to the steps on my right, balancing by her tail to whistle, perhaps, …”thanks for not touching me!!”) As I sit back and relax, a sweet smile in my heart, I gaze up at the last quarter of the moon fading in the sky above the peak of the Temple roof, and I KNOW in my soul that I am beginning the last quarter of my life, my last phase.
(Copyright 2007 Frank Crowley) Our thanks to Frank for letting us use this essay, which he wrote in 2006, shortly after his first visit to Easton Mountain.