even the smallest thing

2.19.21 ~ white-throated sparrow, Birch Plain Creek

One can only hide from the cold for so long. One’s mind needs to be outdoors! One’s spirit needs simple things. It snowed most of the day on Thursday and Friday and when I woke up at 4 a.m. Saturday morning there were still flurries dancing around. We went for a walk in the scattered snow showers on Friday, with about five inches of the white stuff on the ground. Not wanting to drive anywhere, we walked in the woods and along the creek behind our condo complex.

I spotted a new bird, for me, a white-throated sparrow! She was not cooperating about posing very much but I was happy to get the above picture. One musn’t be greedy. I wonder what she was eating.

left over from a city-wide Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt
mourning dove

A mourning dove landed on a branch and eyed me. I thanked her for letting me see the coloring under her tail. Another new thing for me to see. And then she knocked some snow off the branch — yes dear little dove, I did see you do that. 😉

mourning dove knocking snow off the branch
waiting for spring

The creek was mostly frozen over. Tim spotted three gulls out on the ice. Two waiting for an opportunity and one devouring a fish. One always wonders who stole it from who…

great black-backed gull, first winter
it looks cold out there on the ice
winter survival

How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing —
each stone, blossom, child —
is held in place. …

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
(Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God)

somebody’s tracks
Birch Plain Creek

My mood improved 100% by the time we returned home. Pretty flurries just continued floating through the sky all morning and afternoon, until dark, still there every time I looked up from my book. I have finished reading The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden and have started on The Girl in the Tower, the second book in the Winternight trilogy. Perfect books for winter.

Birch Plain Creek

24 thoughts on “even the smallest thing”

  1. That bird kicking snow off the branch may be one of my most loved photos. She obviously did that for you – right? you had the camera clear, and she did that little kick – I love this, Barbara. What more is, this tale lifts my spirit too. I love your clear glance, Barb – your ability to SEE what is presented. What a gift that is – to everyone in our presence.
    I just ordered The bear and the nightingale, too. And I am definitely taking the hint to learn to fall – I will go for the slow and delicious fall-variety, where one has time to enjoy the landscape while falling – like a down .
    I will also start to look at the underside of tails. I think she had a field day with you. Maybe you will meet again – please share in the blog

    1. I’m so happy you loved my sweet, playful mourning dove, Leelah! 💙 I’m pretty sure she did kick the snow off her branch for my benefit. 🙂 I have a special relationship with mourning doves. They started showing up in my life after my mother died in 1991 and I take their presence as messages from my mother. They used to keep me company when I was gardening and they often come visit me on my balcony. This was the first one who came to me in the woods. If you click on “mourning dove” in my tags below the post you will see some of the other pictures I have gotten of them over the years.

      I hope you enjoy the book! I was enchanted by all the house and barn spirits in the story. Have you ever read “Kristin Lavransdatter”?

    1. Thanks, Frank! It seems I have to test my mettle every few days since the cold is getting to me this winter. 🙂 Apparently we have 13 kinds of new world sparrows native to New England, and the ubiquitous house sparrow from Europe, brought here in 1851…

  2. Good morning–and isn’t it amazing how going outside can shift a low mood so thoroughly? I find my low days correspond sometimes to a refusal or reluctance to go outside. Yesterday spent a bit of time out there and felt so much more cheerful. Also–mourning doves always remind me of my mom and downstate Michigan. We have them here, but not so many as down in the Thumb.

    1. Good morning, my friend! It is amazing what some fresh air and even a little exercise can do for a mood. 🙂 I’ve been listening to a mourning dove cooing outside for about an hour now, and the sun has not even risen. I wonder what it is about them that reminds us of our mothers? I love the whistling sound their wings make when they take off flying. Wishing you a mourning dove sighting soon!

  3. I love your mourning dove. I never get such a clear view of them here. They fly off as soon as they hear or see me coming. Thank you for the Rilke, too. Kathy mentioned you and the books. I’ve added them to my reading list. The trilogy sounds like something I would really enjoy. So, thank you for that, too. 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Robin! I guess I’m lucky then that the mourning doves around here aren’t afraid to come close to me. Now that I’ve got one cooing outside I wonder if they’re starting to build nests – maybe that’s why the snow needed to be removed from the branch. 😉 I hope you’ll enjoy reading the books — wonderful for wintertime!

  4. Wonderful winter pictures. Would love to see our snow go away and be able to go for a ride. Did go out very early this morning and photograph a lovely sunrise.

    1. Thank you, Peggy! Happy you got out to photograph the sunrise — there’s something special about winter sunrises… A Sunday drive (on snow-cleared roads) through the countryside does sound wonderful. 🙂

  5. Thank for taking us on your winter wonderland walk! I love the poem, the birds posing, looking for treats, showing themselves to you as you crunched along on the snowing paths.
    Truthfully I haven’t been out of the building in weeks. I don’t have winter gear to walk in the snow and freezing temperatures!

    1. You’re welcome, Jeff! I’m so sorry to hear you haven’t been able to get outside. I haven’t been out as often as I had anticipated this winter, even though I do have all I need to bundle up and keep warm, the bone-chilling cold still manages to get through all the layers and keeps our walks short! You must be looking forward to spring.

  6. I’m giggling over that dove kicking snow off the branch! It, too, has probably had its fill of Old Man Winter and is thinking it’s time for Spring. But how wonderful to get outside again, despite the weather. I can see how that would brighten your day!

    1. She did seem to have a little impishness in her kick. 🙃 It’s funny, after so much complaining about getting no snow in January we’ve been getting nothing but cold and snow in February. Lately I am hearing more songbirds calling so I hope that means spring is just around the corner…

  7. My, it looks cold, glad to hear you both braved it to get outside, as nature always rewards one way or another! 🙂 Congrats on your new bird, Barbara, always a joy to see, even more so capture a new one!

    1. Thank you, Donna! I’m glad I tried to get a picture of the sparrow because it did seem a little different from the other sparrows around here. But I needed help from my Facebook group to identify it. A little gift from nature. 🙂

  8. Learning to fall is a lovely idea. Thank you Rilke. I suppose the little sparrow you photographed knows that intuitively, but I must be prodded to remember that.

    1. Me, too, Ally. What would we do without poetry and little birds to remind us about what’s important and what simple ideas work for us as we go about our lives…

  9. Your cold, snowy and icy weather looks like ours does … or I should say “did” as the past two days were very mile and melted most of that snow. I declared (to myself) that the eight-inch snowfall and follow-up inch or so daily snowfalls would be with us until April. I am surprised and pleased that most of the snow is gone, but the snow and ice melt and now cooler temps today has left ice on the Park trail in its wake. Grrr. I like how your gull is on the water – it looks very cold and where did he get that big fish that he is pondering just how to eat it? I never noticed a Mourning Dove’s tailfeathers from below either. How peaceful their cooing is, just delightful on a frosty cold morning like this. Footsteps in the snow, a barren-looking landscape, all things we will soon forget about once Summer’s warm and sunny days arrive.

    1. It’s warmed up around here, too, since that very cold walk. Wednesday it was downright spring-like and we took a long walk out in the woods which I will post about tomorrow. We should be getting out again today. 🙂 Rain coming for the weekend. That black ice can be a problem. We were planning to walk Tuesday but there was too much black ice on the roads and we decided against it. Accidents everywhere… The ice wasn’t covering the whole creek so there were still spots for the gulls to go fishing. Or he could have got his meal from the ocean and flew it up here to eat it. The past few mornings I’ve had a mourning dove cooing outside nearby for a couple of hours starting about 4 a.m. Since I wake up too early anyway it’s comforting to have the company…

      1. It has cleared up here … on roads and sidewalks anyway. But the Park, even after three warmish days, remains slick with black ice and lumpy ice. It will be 50 degrees on Sunday, but tonight we are getting rain. Depending on how cold it is at 4:00 a.m. when the rain arrives, it may come as freezing rain. Happily later in the day it will warm up. I prefer walking in the morning hours, so likely will use the morning/day to get my tax stuff compiled. That was quite a large fish your gull had. He took it to somewhere that he needn’t share with others. It is soothing listening to a mourning dove and it is a good companion to join you at 4:00 a.m. I have the robins in the backyard singing away at 4:00 a.m. and the sparrows in the pyracantha bush beneath the bathroom window. They all sing the same time.

        1. It’s interesting how black ice can linger in some cold spots without enough sun or in little valleys and dips. I hope your weather continues to warm up. I saw a map predicting precipitation this year and it looks like your area will be wetter than average. We prefer morning walks, too. I had to look up pyracantha bush to picture the flowers and berries. Very pretty. That’s one of the joys of spring arriving, all those different kinds of birds singing! Enjoy!

          1. Yes, that black ice is pesky and I have slid on it as early as mid-October in some places on the perimeter path. We got to 50 today Barbara – that was great and very blue skies. The pyracantha is beautiful when it has its berries which are bright orange, but it is thorny and no fun to prune. This one is actually three small bushes which have grown together, as wide as a section of chain-link fence and almost as tall as the house. I have used the expression “Spring Sing, Spring Fling and Spring Bling” as a title or description in my blog for that first day when you walk around with birds singing, bare arms (flinging off your sweater or coat) and the flowering trees all come out at once (bling). I hope Winter is done but we can only hope.

          2. 50! Yay! It must have felt like a heat wave. 🙂 We’re supposed to be getting a one day cold snap on Tuesday…

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