This evening, while cleaning out computer files, I encountered a particularly charming collection of letters. Some of these little snippets are more intimate than the average blog, so may seem more tender and sentimental. Others are simply descriptions of living small in the Arctic. Some are pages of journals, letters never mailed. I will post these notes one by one as the spirit moves and as circumstances seem appropriate.
Because the heart has no limit in space or time, use of the word “Letters” refers to those moments of ‘here and now’ observed and sent like birds on the wing. “Home” refers to that circle we draw around my feet here in Kotzebue, and around that place where you rest and read.
In this selection, use of the signature “Railways” is in reference to Oleta Adam’s R&B “Get Here” and ‘being there’ for a friend.
May 21, 2008
Regarding the Anne Lamott shipment, thank you again! I told you I’d never read any of her work, but it eventually dawned on me that I’d been reading one of her books immediately prior to moving back to OTZ. “Bird By Bird” was thoughtfully packed and stored by one of the North Hall gang, didn’t make the journey, so was never finished. Have you read it?
At any rate, you may or may not recall, Ms. Lamott was writing about a small flock of birds sitting on a telephone wire. She was overwhelmed with a writer’s block, not knowing where to begin. She sought the advice of her father, also apparently a writer, who suggested she describe them bird by bird, hence the title. An enchanting story.
The birds ‘who’ sit outside of my bedroom window each morning reminded me of that anecdote, and ushered in a completely new sense of Spring renewal.
Let’s shed some of those old winter feathers too and sing on the wire as long as we can!
Since returning from Portland, I’ve been collecting animal sightings to share with you. Of course, there are the birds returning. Seagulls return first, as soon as there is open water at the edge of the sea ice, between OTZ and Siberia (as a region, Siberia covers approximately 77% of all Russian territory, including the smaller political Russian Federal District).
As soon as the paired Ravens disperse to their respective and hidden nesting sites, the Robins begin to appear. Yes, Robins! I sighted my first Robin of the year just last week. Small sparrows comprise the flock that sings outside my windows each morning. The stripes on their heads are larger than sparrows more familiar to me. Their song is slightly different, an Arctic Sparrow dialect of some sort (more about subtle variations and Darwin’s finches another time). Since spotting the Robin, I’ve also encountered a Loon, Tundra Swans, and ducks of all sorts.
Last week, while walking, I heard the rustle of leaves at the base of a tree and spotted a small vole. Leaves do not dampen and disintegrate beneath the snow here; the snow is so “dry” and like powder blows about. The leaves were still a soft cocoa beige (the color of caribou), dry and dusty. The vole stood out a bit, having a slightly warmer colored coat. In size, shape, texture and color, it reminded me of Gidget as a young pup and of course, I felt the wave of affection for this particular little vole.
Birds are special creatures. They fly; have feathers and scales, ancient coverings. They are vertebrates just like us, yet we cannot fly. How fascinating is THAT to the human psyche? Have you been able to sit and enjoy more of the birds in your yard? How do you think of birds, in the sense of understanding them, observing them, taking them in bird by bird? How is your comical little Roadrunner?
This evening there is a Park Service bird walking tour of Kotzebue. It will begin about 7ish, so as I birdwatch, you may already be sleeping. Love you lots.