Red in Tooth and Claw— and Feathers


[“Clawfoot Bathtub, Scrap”, Somerville, MA]

After the violent winter we had, one of my greatest pleasures these days is to sit on my deck with a cup of coffee and my journal and to wake up slowly to the bustling, preening, greening world of my back yard, my tiny patch of “the grace of the world”:**

A couple of days ago, though, my backyard was anything but pastoral or gracious. In a Norway maple, hidden by leaves, feathered warriors squabbled over territory—or, perhaps, a female bird. What drama! What a ruckus!  When those birds finally decided to do battle in the air, not one, not two, but THREE brightly plumed cardinals took flight. I wish you could have seen how magnificent they were!

And I remembered a bit from a recent New Yorker article in which American novelist Nell Zink, an avid bird-watcher who lives in Europe, had this to say: “I saw a cardinal when I was in Brooklyn and I was almost moved to tears.” What stirred her was the fact that a creature so brilliant could survive in plain sight. “I was, like, I can’t believe this thing is legal. I can’t believe this thing is in the wild. How did this happen, how has someone not killed them all? They’re so conspicuous. They’re gorgeous. How can they still be alive?”

She’s right. It’s a miracle—and a blessing.


by Wendell Berry

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


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1 Comment

  1. Dear Patricia,

    Hi, there, Patricia, my so, so very dearly special and precious white friend and sister who you are For Always so, so very much indeed!!!!!!! I just so love this very beautiful and lovely blog post article of yours which is so moving, touching, and heartfelt, sister!!!!!! I, too, love our marvelous birds in all of their sharp and vibrant variety!!!!! I like to look out of my living room window drinking my hot mug of coffee and enjoying the spectacular sight of all of the birds flying around the front yard of my apartment complex, and I even sometimes sit outside on our patio and enjoy the sheer joyous sight of all of the multi-colored birds flying to and fro from here to there, sisterfriend!!!!!! Patricia, it is very much indeed a huge miracle that our blazing red cardinals have survived-I love this so because I love our cardinals so, so very much and in fact I love all birds, my friend!!!!!!! Birds are so, so very precious and just so dear creatures of our Good God Spirit!!!!! I just daily enjoy the concert these variety of birds give as they sweetly sing and chirp, sisterfriend!!!!!!

    I used to know someone who moved out of town and didn’t stay in contact with me who hated birds!!!!!! I was just so horrified and shocked by this!!!!! I remember when birds were scurrying around from ground to air she would angrily wave her hands and shout at these poor birds, scaring the dearest and darling birds so much!!!!! How in the world could she, or anyone else for that matter, hate and dislike these magnificent creatures of our Good God?!!!!!!! I just don’t understand this at all, sister!!!!!!! I have the Spirit of Peace, Wellness, and Wholeness come over me when look at these so, so very dearest and darling birds!!!!! I love their cute and adorable, melodious singing and chirping and just inspires me so and lifts up my spirits, Patricia!!!!!! The poem you contributed, sister, by our Wendell Berry just complements your superbly super blog post article to the very heights of perfection, my precious white sisterfriend, Patricia!!!!!

    My precious white sister, Patricia, please have a wondrously wonderful Wednesday and rest of your week, and may all of your days be so, so very especially blessed!!!!!! I thank-you so for this great gift and a blessing of this greatly grand blog post article of yours, as I know your other very grateful and appreciative readers do as well, my white friend!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my white sister, Patricia, with Peace and Love To You For Always, my white sisterfriend, with Blessings and Even More Blessings To You For Always,

    Your Christian lesbian black sisterfriend For Always in solidarity, Sherry Gordon

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