Sunday, February 15, 2009

SUNDAY MORNING

Sunday morning. But not yet a “sun” day—though by the look of things, that’s what will soon occur. For now, however, it is still dark, still early, with only a faint glow to the east and a wash of stars overhead. I send the dog out with an admonition to stay in the yard. Then I head back into the kitchen and make a pot of coffee—the first coffee I’ve made in several weeks. For whatever reason, I shift between coffee and tea as my morning drink, sometimes alternating back and forth almost daily, though usually staying with one or the other for a week or two before switching back. This seemed like a coffee morning. It takes only a few minutes to boil a kettle of water, pour it over the ground coffee, wait the proper time, and push the plunger in the French press. Between these small tasks I kept peering out the front-room window, keeping tabs on both the dog and the dawn; the former uncharacteristically followed my orders, the latter heeded only the effects of planetary rotation. With mug of hot coffee in hand, I stepped outside, onto the deck. Cold, a brisk 22-degrees according to the thermometer by the front door. The half-disc moon, bright and silvery, was sneaking westward through the skeletal tops of the sycamores across the river. The river itself, down a couple of feet from a few days ago, was an opaque greenish-brown in the burgeoning light. I checked the seed feeders, and suet cadges—full enough—then dipped a scoop of cracked corn from the bin on the deck, and scattered this golden breakfast out for the sparrows and doves and cardinals that I knew would soon be arriving. A lone Canada goose came hustling downriver, honking loudly with every wingbeat. I’d heard a flock of geese go over while I was making my coffee. Perhaps this straggler simply overslept and missed the pre-dawn departure flight with his buddies. In my experience, there’s usually one invariably tardy member of any group—whether we’re talking people or geese. The sun was up now and starting to varnish the ranks of leaning sycamores along the river. This wasn’t one of those spectacularly colorful dawns, where the eastern sky is filled with pink and orange, purple and turquoise, and a dozen hues in between; just the ordinary miracle of another morning, one more day in our unknown allotment, a day to use as we see fit. Nevertheless, all days and dawns are special, and the white-barked sycamore trunks and crowns glowed a rich gold in the new-born light, a victory gift of light over darkness. The light had stirred the birds. Titmice were whistling, and cardinals. Several nuthatches were already on the big box elder by the front door, yank-yanking in nasal glee. A Carolina wren was tuning up from the cedar thicket. The feeders began serving their first customers. Sunday mornings seem especially holy to me. I grew up in a church-going family, and we went to services every Sunday morning. I don’t go as often nowadays as I should…and I not only feel guilty about that lapse, but I miss it when I fail to attend. I love the old hymns. Love the quiet warmth of prayer, and the message of hope eternal in the sermon. I love just being in the sacred space of the building itself. Life is such a wondrous gift, even when things are hard and we’re struggling with pains and troubles. Each new day is precious. I know this every time I stand on my little piece of riverbank and watch the sparkle of morning light on the water, or see the golden sun reflecting off the sycamores. My own heart soars with the traveling geese and sings with the bright music of dawn’s birds. I am so very blessed. So I say this before Almighty God, as deeply and honestly as I know how, fully aware that I'm unworthy of such treasures, grateful and humbled almost to tears…thank you.

14 comments:

Jenn Jilks said...

It *is* a beautiful day, is it not?

We did church, sang in th choir. I don't miss those days, but do laud them.

But I disagree, Grizzly.
We're all worthy.
We each have value.
We are all perfect and allowed to make mistakes.
God don't make no junk.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

We each have our own beliefs, of course. And you're right in that we all have value. But I do not view my relationship with God as one based on my worth, but rather His grace.

I see days as gifts, filled with beauty, and birdsong, and treasures galore. And I try to make the best I can of each and every one.

giggles said...

Grace, indeed..and therefore worthy.... I believe these gifts are not mutually exclusive....

I expect you do your best (most of the time...?) and I also believe that effort is all that is needed.

Roll call: Cracked corn has brought several flickers to graze. And my daughter and hubby saw a hawk dive after something in the field of our back yard. They were not sure which kind of hawk, but did say it was rather large- my guess would be a red-tailed. My neighbor spoke of having a nest this spring. She said they were as noisy as all get out, until the fledglings learned how to hunt on their own! (I heard nary a sound, nor saw nary a sight of any of that process....bummer...gotta pay more attention this year!)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Goggles…

I believe in worth as value, though not in worthiness to the point of earning or deserving. I do try, and often fail—and worse, fail knowingly, by choice. Which is why I'm glad my faith is based on grace rather than accomplishment or effort.

I had a flicker in the yard yesterday. They're not rare, but mildly uncommon; at least I seldom see them. And they're almost as wild as the pileated woodpeckers—though I did get a pretty good photo of the flicker last week, and will use it in an upcoming post. No decent pileated shot yet. :-(

I've never had a redtail in the yard; just the Cooper's. But I see plenty of redtails soaring, and there's nest not far upstream; it's almost time for them to begin nesting. I just saw in the news yesterday that a pair of bald eagles are building a nest not too far from here—maybe twenty-five minutes away—and that the pair are accompanied by two other eagles which are thought to be last year's offspring. That will be really neat. Most of Ohio's nesting eagles are either up along Lake Erie or along the Ohio and Scioto rivers.

giggles said...

Eagles??? WOW!!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

Wow, indeed!

Eagles are expanding their range and numbers in this part of the country, but slowly. I've seen a few pass overhead hereabouts, or linger for a few days to fish a lake or big pond—but you have to go back quite a few decades to see a record of them nesting in the county. Though I've heard rumors…

I hope they stay and raise young; I hope their offspring return; and I hope to one day see an eagle soar over my home here on the river, and to know that it's not a traveler but a resident.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

My own heart soars with the birds also. Each little humdrum task is somehow roseated with specialness.

(Well - most of them - I haven't quite got to feeling ecstatic about writing cheques for bills yet. But the grumpiness doesn't last as long as it used to!)

Your photo is really atmospheric.

KGMom said...

You kept Sabbath with your morning musings.
The sermon today in our church--keeping Sabbath--the need to set aside time to reflect, to contemplate, to calm one's self.
The riverside location sounds lovely.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Raph…

I do "soar" with birds sometimes, in heart and spirit, anyway, if not flesh. I've occasionally wondered why this feeling is so imaginatively common—why don't we leap from treetop to treetop with squirrels, graze with woodchucks, trill with toads, buzz with bees, or swim with fishes? It must be the flight itself, the ability of loosening earthly bonds and setting ourselves in the sky, above ir all, free to follow. There is a magic to flight as a natural act—without machinery or the contrivance even of a nylon "wing"—that touches something in so many of us, maybe everyone.

Every now and then I dream of flying, of soaring, and it is the most wonderful dream sensation. I guess we all would like to know what that feels like first hand.

Re. the photo, that's just how it looks most mornings—sun in the tops of the sycamores, shadows in the lower woods of the island, the dark river slipping along. BTW, the river is down another couple of feet since yesterday; the rapids are reappearing and it is noisier.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

I did keep Sabbath in a way, I guess, though it is pretty much my usual morning routine. But I love the mornings more and more the older I get. I hate missing a sunrise. I so enjoy that transition from dark to light, even on rainy days when it's like the day just seeps in in drips and dribbles, a graying up illumination that's too gradual and too dim at its finish to be considered noteworthy.

It is lovely here. Not a "showpiece" home or anywhere close. Just a 1500 square foot cottage of Indiana limestone, 17-inch thick walls, built mostly in 1919. There are enough DYI jobs needed to keep me busy for decades. An extra fifty grand would help. A long rectangle of land with the river forming the western edge lengthwise. I have about an acre if you count the 50-feet of underwater streambed the deed says is mine and the taxman charges me for, but which I only get to walk upon in those months when the water is at normal pool and I'm wading for smallmouth bass.

But birds and critters aplenty, and plenty of green walls in season to fool you into thinking you're "out there."

The Weaver of Grass said...

I do so love your writing, Scribe - I am there with you as I read about your sunday morning - and I am absolutely green with envy that you get cardinals on your bird feeder - I have only ever seen in (in Alberquerque last year) - they are so beautiful. You make it all sound idyllic - thank you.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

Thank you so very much for your comments. I'm glad you read and enjoy these pieces,

It isn't idyllic…although it is really nice. But "if I had my d'ruthers" as my mother used to say, I would put this cottage and its riverine setting far, far out in the country—far enough that to have a meal at a fast-food restaurant would take an hour's drive each way and cost more for the gasoline to get there than the food.

Your farm sounds pretty idyllic to me.

Our redbirds (northern cardinals) are indeed beautiful, and so common that I'm sure we take them way too much for granted. As a bit of trivia, I believe they are the most popular pick for "official state bird" among the states—probably because they are common, distinctive with that crest, and look so good on logos, brochures, and vehicle license tags.

Again, thank you.

Gail said...

Hi -

I happened by - from one blog to another. Your site and picturesque words are inspiring, manly and gentle and real.
I live a simple and humble life - with many precious gifts to behold.

Peace and light
Gail

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Thank you for your kind words.

I'm just a guy who tries to write as best I can on a given day, to do so with honesty and joy, and to write about what I see and think and feel. I like to have fun at this. And I too try and live humbly, simply, and with full awareness and gratitude for all that I've been given.

I hope you visit regularly. You are always welcome.