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Reflections in the Silver Cup

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA IX

People disparagingly call them "flying rats," and they do have some deplorable habits. Their babies are incredibly ugly. But there is beauty in the iridescence around their necks. And on Saturday evening I saw four of them, flying in pairs to join ten or so birds on a highwire. Two landed, and two went on wheeling. I watched them sail. Sail away. And back again. One on the wire—I swear she saw me watching—took off, made a gracious loop, and then came straight toward me. For a moment I thought she was going to land on my head. She stopped on the parapet of the building above me and gazed at me. I gazed back. Communion.

 

I've never disliked pigeons. They are little beings, too. They are part of urban ecology—cleaning up after humans who leave their unfinished food lying around. So who's to blame?

 

And one flew down to me on Saturday night when I was feeling all the feels––a little lonely, teary when the show I'd been binge-watching ended on such tender human notes, bereft that those virtual companions were gone from me. Wanting some company for a while. I give thanks to that one pigeon who saw me and dove down to hello me. Pigeon love.

 

"We know ourselves to be made from this earth. We know this earth is made from our bodies. For we see ourselves. And we are nature. We are nature seeing nature. We are nature with a concept of nature. Nature weeping. Nature speaking of nature to nature.

 

The red-winged blackbird flies in us, in our inner sight. We see the arc of her flight. We measure the ellipse. We predict its climax. We are amazed. We are moved. We fly. We watch her wings negotiate the wind, the substance of the air, its elements and the elements of those elements, and count those elements found in other beings, the se urchin's sting, ink, this paper, our bones, the flesh of our tongues with which we make the sound "blackbird," the ear with which we hear, the eye which travels the arc of her flight. And yet the blackbird does not fly in us but in somewhere else free of our minds, and now even free of our sight, flying in the path of her own will."

 

            ~ Susan Griffin

 

 

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LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA VIII

Great root seeking life at Canyon de Chelly

The presence of the life force all around us ceaselessly amazes me. Plants that appear dead revive with a little water and cutting back. Trees in the Southwest send forth astounding root systems to gather moisture from a crack in the rocks. Media most commonly present the rising death toll from COVID-19, but the percentage of recoveries far outstrips the deaths: 79% of people with confirmed cases are recovering, which means 21% die (Worldometer Corona Virus Statistics). Both numbers are probably higher, because these figures only reflect confirmed cases. It is a human survival strategy to note the negative—a holdover from the flight/fight response in our long-ago ancestors. I don't ignore the seriousness of this pandemic, and that is probably why media continue mostly to emphasize the deaths—to keep us alert and careful. But I am choosing hope, also—noting daily the numbers and stories of recovery. Noting the vast majority of people I know who are staying home and otherwise using smart precautions.

 

I am also, because it is spring, noticing the prodigious resurgence of life, as the trees green and green and green, the tiny purple flowers most consider weeds burst into the sunlight. Cambodians wait until spring to celebrate the New Year, which will be on April 14-16 this year, although it won't be celebrated due to strict quarantine observation [edited]. Because newness of life is so evident in this season, humans have ever celebrated the return of life in springtime—the lunar New Year, Easter, Beltane. Maybe with greater verve this year than in many years, we are grateful for life that comes on the heels of winter and also follows death.

 

Sometimes new life in the natural world is cradled in the death of another being, as in "The Rabbit," by Mary Oliver from Three Rivers Poetry Journal.

 

THE RABBIT

 

Scatterghost,

it can't float away.

And the rain, everybody's brother,

won't help. And the wind all these days

flying like ten crazy sisters everywhere

can't seem to do a thing. No one but me,

and my hands like fire,

to lift him to a last burrow. I wait

 

days while the body opens and begins

to boil. I remember

 

the leaping in the moonlight, and can't touch it,

wanting it miraculously to heal

and spring up

joyful. But finally

 

I do. And the day after I've shoveled

the earth over, in a field nearby

 

I find a small bird's nest lined pale

and silvery and the chicks—

 

are you listening, death?—warm in the rabbit's fur.

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LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA VII

Teec Nos Pos in the Navajo Nation

I've been posting some tidbits about the helpers I've seen in these times. There are businesses that are helping their employees and businesses helping health professionals and businesses stepping up to create ventilators and protective gear. Let us sing praises to the helpers everywhere.

 

Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX ) is the company that distributes the audio version of my book, To Drink from the Silver Cup to Audible, iTunes and Amazon. To help their authors, including me, during the pandemic they are increasing our royalties by an additional 5% during April, May, and June. 5% may not sound like much, but it will be if lots of people purchase audiobooks during this time.

 

John T. Price, memoirist, essayist, nature writer and creative writing professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO), had this to say about the text version of To Drink from the Silver Cup: "From Navajo dwellings in New Mexico to Scandinavia to the evangelical Midwest, Anna Redsand's beautiful, heroic story is for anyone who has ever felt outcast from a community they love and tossed into the desert of doubt and despair. Here you will find spiritual hope embodied, and the promise that, no matter where we are lost, it is possible to find our way home to new communities of faith, compassion, healing, and belonging."

 

After he read the book and wrote that blurb, John heard me read at UNO, and afterwards he said, "Reading your book was wonderful, but hearing you read gave me a completely different experience of it."

 

So this post is a request for your help. If you haven't heard me read To Drink from the Silver Cup, now could be the time. Or if you know someone––anyone––who would enjoy hearing it, if you need something to listen to while you work out or go for walks, in the time of Corona, please consider helping me and buying the audio version. Add to my take, and support the workers at ACX, who are supporting their authors.

 

Go to the iTunes Store in the iTunes app on your phone or computer.

 

Or get the book on Audible at:

 https://www.amazon.com

 

A grateful thank you in advance.

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LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA VI

I brought down the trash last evening and sat in my RAV for a few minutes to let the battery charge up. Getting out I felt my love for the RAV and my longing to go somewhere with it, live in it for a while again. And then I walked the perimeter of the parking lot. It didn't matter that it's a parking lot filled with cars and dumpsters, because there was all the pink and the baby blue and the slate blue—everywhere, except in the west. There the gold and the tangerine. The sky. So I walked backwards for a while to joy in the sundown there. And the granite upthrusts of the mountains were dusky rose, and I felt so blessed to be here, to witness this unbearable beauty. And people moving in their cars through the lot waved to me and that, too, was a blessing.

 

THE SUN

~ Mary Oliver from New and Selected Poems: Volume I

 

Have you ever seen

anything

in your life

more wonderful

 

than the way the sun,

every evening,

relaxed and easy,

floats toward the horizon

 

and into the clouds or the hills,

or the rumpled sea,

and is gone—

and how it slides again

 

out of the blackness,

every morning,

on the other side of the world,

like a red flower

 

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,

say, on a morning in early summer,

at its perfect imperial distance—

and have you ever felt for anything

 

such wild love—

do you think there is anywhere, in any language,

a word billowing enough

for the pleasure

 

that fills you,

as the sun

reaches out

as it warms you

 

as you stand there,

empty-handed—

or have you too

turned from this world—

 

or have you too

gone crazy

for power,

for things?

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