Letter from Birdland: Things are pointed in a different way
In Birdland I have changed my point of view. Quite literally. My mother recently gave me her father's desk, and so I have rearranged the furniture. I now sit oriented in a different direction as I write: facing north.
But the most important change is that I now face the window. This is both a distraction and an inspiration, but so far the distraction is minimal. I can see the spring coming in the shoots on the lilac, this morning covered with buds of green and pearls of silver.
The rain glints even though the sun is muffled by the gray sky. A truck passes and disturbs my train of thought — but really only stirs up some other thoughts.
Yesterday at Allerton, where we took the dog to walk, we happened upon the secret grove of ghost lilies. Secret only because it looks like a field of grass right now, but if you take the sidewalk behind the evergreen grove so you're viewing that field of grass from above as we did, you'll see the clandestine springing of 10,000 fleshy blades thrusting up amongst the grass in rank and file.
In another week, the secret will be out. The blades will be 6 inches tall by Friday, up to our knees when we walk again there next week. I'm not really surprised. I knew they were there, and the ghost lilies are struggling up in my own yard, but still, it was a delight to turn the corner and see such a strong sign that spring is impending.
On the equinox, Ellis and I went to Bill's bonfire. My youngest loves the bonfire at the Kalyx Center, has been fascinated with it since he was small.
The Kalyx Center sits surrounded by a walnut grove grown wild. Years ago, Bill moved an old farmhouse onto his land to be used for various educational and community events. Then he moved a barn, piece by piece, to host dancing and potlucks and weddings and all kinds of parties. Or maybe he moved the barn first. It was a long time ago.
For all these years Bill has hosted a bonfire at each corner of the year, so on Wednesday, we drove after sunset through the woods. In the dark, the lane seemed longer than usual, and I wondered, too, that we didn't see any cars or any light.
"Are you sure it's tonight?" Ellis asked, and I laughed.
The road gave a few more twists and then we could see lights twinkling in the distance.
"You see?" I said.
Of course, the cold will keep some folks away. On a fine night, cars are parked down the lane on both sides. In fact, Ellis and his friends helped Bill a few years ago, to clear brush on the sides of the lane for parking. Anyway, we drove on and on and up near the house did see a smattering of cars.
Oh, we ate and talked with old friends and new acquaintances. The kitchen was surprisingly crowded for the few cars outside, and people were lined up to get to the table. The flow was into the kitchen to add a dish to the feast and then around to fill a plate and then back out into the living room to eat. But the warmth of the kitchen drew people back in. There was a fire in the stove in the living room, and a few people on the couch opened the stove and stoked the fire, discussing the best way to make it burn brighter and warmer.
We ate and then, sensing some fidgeting on Ellis' part, we told him to go tell Bill it was time for the bonfire.
What is there to write about the bonfire after all? This time it was not quite as tall or grand as usual, but very lovely as it was built with a lot of evergreens. The lacy needles on the trees gave a textured pattern, and the green added color.
It was a squat, wide shape, not like some of the towering piles of brush and furniture Bill has built in the past. Yet the fire warmed us and gave us an excuse to stand together in a circle under the dark sky and welcome the spring.
Burn in beauty; warm in peace; blessed be.
Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is interested in all the rhythms and patterns of the year. You can read more of her writings at http://www.letterfrombirdland.blogspot.com. Hays can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.