Hope in Feathers
Winter weather invites us to consider the birds.
Famed New England poet Emily Dickinson offers (in #314):
"Hope" is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
Birds are of the soul of nature; they sing their own tune; and they never stop..., as the soulful journey will not. They provide an essential melody of hope.
Ken Kaufman shares with us in A Season On The Wind how warblers and other birds migrate, in oscillating blankets of configuration, at discreet and varying altitudes, through the night's sky, calling their song, while guided by stars. Warblers move through Ohio and often touch down in the Black Swamp near Lake Erie in early May, before crossing the Lake. This creates one of the most concentrated gatherings of warblers in the world.
The Blackpoll Warbler flies from southern Brazil through Ohio to northern Canada. It stays put for a season, lays eggs, rears young, and then turns around and does the samething in reverse, with young in tow. It flies over oceans for four days and three nights, nonstop. It starts out weighing 1 ounce, and arrives weighing half an ounce.
How does it do this? And what a phenomonal force of nature these migrating birds represent. And what can we do to preserve this phenomenon, for these birds are part of a web of connection, which builds on itself and keeps our natural world working. Without the working of our natural world, we can not grow our food. What do we do?
Emma keeps seven different bird feeders supplied with seven different kinds of seed to help local avian residents through the winter. Wouldn't it be compelling if we all did that? Preserving and creating habitat is the most important thing we can do. All agricutlural fields growing monocultures could be required to be encircled by a wildlife buffer. We will be planting 70,000 trees over the next fwo yeas, as we convert 140 acres back into wetlands. Hopefully, that will induce flocks of warblers to stop in for a day of rest.
Scout accompanied me on a walk yesterday, and here he is studying the snow, listening for voles and mice. Periodically he leaps up and dives down, digging furiously. Sometimes he is successful in his pursuit, to his delight, but usually comes up empty.
This stalking is not dissimilar to the activity of Cooper's Hawks we have been observing around the pastures this fall and winter. The hawks are all about, diving and dipping for rodents, as well. One of the benefits of our long rotations, that generate tall grass, is the dense foliage provides cover for rodents, which in turn provides food for raptors. It is quite magnificent to watch the hawks in action; it is a reward for working everyday in adverse weather.
Here Chris has unrolled a bale of hay in Lot A for the two-year-olds. They also have access to a feed bunk of hay, but the unrolled bale creates less competition for feed and gives the stock a dry place to bed-down at night. During bitter weather, these efforts at animal comfort make a difference.
This plate of pink smoked leg-of-lamb was covered in greens of cilantro, Chinese celery, and scallions to generate an exquisite Asian-accented salad. It was executed by Susan's son, Sebastien, who inherited the culinary gene and is always creating wondrous journeys to far lands. It was underlain with a cumin sauce, making for delicious and exotic fare.
On Sunday, we will be at the Madtree Market in Oakley, despite the cold weather. Since our product is frozen, bitter weather is not a limiting factor. And we feel a contract with you to provide these foods, come rain, shine, or blizzard, if at all possible. So, place your orders, and allow us the pleasure of delivering nutrient dense-foods to you despite the cold of winter. In the same vein, we need you to need us, so we can pay our weekly bills. You and we are connected in the web of essential living.
May hope perch in your soul.
Drausin & Susan