Birding: Swainson's Thrush

The first summer I spent in Oregon, I heard this bird. It sang its song from deep in the woods, it sounded like a magical flute. My eastern ears were unaccustomed to this song. It haunted me for years afterwards... Some summers I would wander into the woods after it, getting somewhat lost or finding special places I wouldn't have found otherwise.

One day, after bring fed up of this unknown song bird eluding my sight, I sat down with a bird identification book for the Willamette Valley and poured over every robin sized bird I could find. I only ever caught a glimpse of its shadow high up in the poplar canopy. After looking for what felt like ages, there it was in print, next to a very plain looking brown bird... "Song - series of nasal whistles spiraling upward ... most often identified by distinctive voice ... Often near streams ... Summer migrant ... Secretive."  That was my bird alright.

I have spent most of my life on the east coast, so this elusive bundle of feathers was totally unknown to me. It felt strangely special finally knowing its name, like it was some sort of well kept secret that I was privy to. In a way, I believe it is. No one else that I have talked to has identified the bird.

Did you know that male Swainson's have territorial song battles? Apparently. Like some kind of bird rap battle... They also migrate at night.

The Swainson's Thrush is a keeper of secrets. They are a seekers bird, I believe. You chase and hunt and they lead you to things you would not have found if you hadn't been following their siren like call. There are places in the woods I know of now, thanks to this plain looking  but extraordinary bird.

I've only heard one or two distant calls over the past two weeks. They're heading out for the year and won't be back until about mid-May. They herald the summer and beautiful green things...

Going It Alone: the Solitude of 8 of Cups.

I draw a card for myself every morning. Sometimes to help me better understand a dream, sometimes to guide me through the day... and sometimes they're just there. But sometimes, you see a card you haven't seen in a long time and it touches you. The 8 of Cups did that for me this morning.

Seeking solitude, going it alone. Those were the words that reverberated through my mind.

I think in this day of ever connectedness, smartphones, the internet, everything, true solitude is rare. Some of us seek it and some of us are totally bewildered by the idea. Solitude causes you to examine yourself. Looking within, good, bad, light, shadow is a scary thing. Something we all benefit from experiencing though.

As an introvert I gain much from solitude. It's there that my creativity grows and my batteries recharge. I get cranky if I overextend myself and I have found that, in not expressing my need for solitude misplaced resentment and anger towards those around me develops. It's a bad trait and I have to know when to give myself the time I need to regroup and collect myself. It's like loosing all my organized papers to the wind. It actually took me a long time to realize this. I'm learning how to balance this aspect of my life. This article, Why We Love You But Need to Get Away From You perfectly explains why introverts need to get away. Even if the door is shut, we can still feel you in the other room!

You think that I am impoverishing myself withdrawing from men, but in my solitude I have woven for myself a silken web or chrysalis, and, nymph-like, shall ere long burst forth a more perfect creature, fitted for a higher society.
— Henry D. Thoreau

The other aspect of this card for me is walking your own path. The person in this card is embarking on a journey, a pilgrim, a seeker. They do it alone. Recently in my life, I have had to leave some things behind... a dead co-dependent relationship. One of the driving fears of leaving was whether or not I would be able to survive on my own. 7 years is a long time to develop bad habits and grow lazy in knowing how to take care of some aspects of your life. I knew the day that I decided to call it quits, it would open so many cans, so many worms. But in the end I am better for it and through the suffering and throwing myself into the chaos I would gain more than ever from the experience.

So here I am staff in hand, going it alone.

A Year of Living

The path of poisonous fire is for the real man or woman, who in the fire of Hell turns gentle and understanding; who grows wise through suffering and ordeal, who sees themselves as a warrior ready to accept life no matter what its cost.
— Exu & the Quimbanda of Night and Fire by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold
Gird Point, MT

Gird Point, MT

It's come, a few days short of one year not updating this space. One long ass pause.

It's been good. At the cusp of 30, old man Saturn has made his return and naturally, my life path has been drastically altered, yet somehow parts of it remain the same. Bad relationships dissolved, harsh realities revealed, getting closer to my Self, beautiful new relationships formed. Goodness can be found in destruction. Even after all the shit has burned down, the flowers and grasses will make their return. Fire can hurt, but it can be purifying, fertilizing. A source of renewal and growth.

Dusting off the ash and beginning anew.

Knowing When to Pause.

The days have been filled with avoiding the heat. The earth here is parched and the grasses are dying. You can smell the deep tang of the invasive blackberries in the midday sun, mingling with the loam of the forest, heated pine resin and the sweetness of dried grasses. Briar path days are upon us. I've taken pity on my neighbors dehydrated rose bushes (they've moved out and are gone) and am currently watering them. The plants feel glad. I've noticed the black (Br'er) rabbit family and local hares only come out to graze at dawn and dusk, avoiding the heat. It almost feels as if my little area is holding it's breath for a bout of rain, I think it really is.

There's an odd feeling of burn out I've been dealing with. I don't know if it's burn out, per-say. But I feel like disappearing somewhere for a little while, disconnecting from the internet and stopping the flow of communications. That need to isolate yourself and recharge so you can reconnect. It's hard when you have a lot of real life obligations, when you simply can't turn off the internet and you feel that never ending nagging persistence to be super productive, to get shit done and be awesome consistently, nonstop. Realizing when to pause can be difficult. Knowing when you're just not going to be productive anymore can be hard to recognize sometimes.

I feel like the land, dehydrated and longing for a good nourishing rain. The rains will come inevitably, right now it's a matter of digging deep with these roots to tap into the moist soil far below me.

I pulled the Page of Cups this morning. She's descended to the bottom of the ocean, alone. She uses her intuition to guide herself and she finds answers in the scrying bowl. My need for the element of water is apparent in this card. I think a good spiritual bath is in order, a bath at dusk to remove and a bath as the sun rises to bring in that which I desire.

Let's Go Stargazing.

Since re-watching Agora, my lust for stargazing has been rekindled. It's an indescribable feeling looking into the stars. Oddly enough, it's grounding for me to loose myself in the celestial bodies. Somehow, it manages to put my feet back on the earth and helps me remember my place in the Universe. I find it captivating to know that I've shared the same fixed gaze upon a star as millions of other people, my ancestors, ancient peoples...

Found here

I think this happens to me during the summer. I'm just now beginning to realize there's a bit of a pattern here. In the Pacific Northwest we have cloud cover more often than not, but during the height of summer you can get a good view of the stars even on the edges of Portland light pollution. One of these days I'll cross the Cascade Mountains and out into the scrubby dry land of eastern Oregon, so I can hopefully make out the spine of our galaxy home the Milky Way.

Found here

I've never actually been able to see the stars far from light pollution, or out in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes it shocks me to say that, but I haven't! And it's on my to-do list. Regretfully, it never crossed my mind to look at the night sky while traveling from Iowa to Oregon. Montana, Nevada and Utah all boast some pretty amazing star seeing.

Since I can't just hop in a car (as I do not own one) and run off to the desert I have a few methods of keeping myself star connected...

Sky Map . I can lie out in my backyard and identify the stars as they appear. It's a great tool to train yourself to recognize stars with the naked eye. You'll learn a lot!

If you're not inclined to use your mobile to track the stars, there's an Interactive Star Map I've found. You can use your own location to navigate the sky, wherever you may be, night or day! 

Tonight's Sky is handy if you're wanting to know about up coming celestial events and sightings. It's also handy to help pinpoint star cluster viewing.

Oh! There will be a Perseids meteor shower between August 10th-13th! This year is predicted to be a most dazzling show. The shower will be peaking during the few hours just before dawn. Set your alarm clock!

The stars speak of hope and inspiration, mysteries and the unknown in darkness, of very old and ancient beings. When I gaze up at the heavenly bodies, it is a special kind of trance I can achieve. A heat swirls in my solar plexus, it buzzes and hums and something that I can never quite put my finger on snaps into place. For lack of better words, it is the feeling of the deepest connection, of feeling alive and blessed. Try it sometime. Get lost in the stars and allow all that you can see be a thick blanket of twinkling lights, perhaps you'll discover what I'm talking about.

I'll be soaking up as much of the clear night skies as I can before the rain Gods come back into our fertile valley, covering everything in clouds, mist and life giving rain. While I appreciate both sides of the year, I revel in these summer nights.