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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Mary Oliver died one month ago today...

.... and in honor of this extraordinary woman, who reminds us (in her poem "Flare")

"....When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice
something you have never noticed before,..."

I'm dedicating this post to her. I will confess that it doesn't take "loneliness stalking" to make me "Notice something (I) have never noticed before;" because it is in my nature to notice so called little things, but sometimes it takes a pair of eyes other than mine due to my challenges (understatement) with eyesight.

For instance this past Friday when I was in Central Park, where many were gathered around The Pond to snap pictures of the now famous Mandarin duck (he can be seen in the pictures atop this entry), I was talking with a woman (who identified herself as Becky) about the Mandarin and how his presence has brought so many people — from all walks of life — together.

And we also talked about the other birds who were swimming in the pond on that day including male Wood ducks, Canadian geeseKhaki Campbell ducks, Mallard ducks, Mallard-hybrids, as well as an American coot; all of whom can be seen in the following photos (respectively).

I have seen all of these bird types on a number of occasions. Additionally I have included them in a number of entries here on Blogger; but this past Friday is the first time I realized (thanks to Becky) that the American coot has green legs and feet! This is indicated by an orange arrow that I've superimposed over the next set of pictures.

Upon having the coot's green feet brought to my attention, I immediately thought of Mary Oliver's words, "Notice something you have never noticed before...; " and when I returned home, I looked through her poems to see if I could find one re an American coot; but alas I did not! (If you know of one, dear reader, please contact me.) Writing poetry is not in my skill set but appreciation for the medium is; especially when Mary Oliver is the poet. This is evident in the fact that I have referenced her poems in a post (here on Blogger) about beessquirrels and raccoons;

as well as in posts about birds that I've encountered in Central Park (such as the Great Egret and Cormorants);

and in entries about birds who spend time in my garden (including Cardinals, European starlings and Northern mockingbirds).

Most of the birds referenced here are featured in my three volume book series, Words In Our Beak, where the stories are told from the perspective of Cam (the female cardinal seen in the photograph below).

Words In Our Beak’s goal is to open readers to a simple understanding of the winged world and their environment. Set in a rooftop urban garden in New York City, my story is told in the voice of Cam, a female cardinal, who visits it. Words In Our Beak is directed to children and adults who are curious about birds, and want to learn about them from a unique perspective. The book includes hundreds of images of flora and fauna, links to movies, as well as to informative narratives that have been created by the author; and I hope (like Mary Oliver) they will have an impact on people's lives and cause them to pay attention to "something you have never noticed before..."

And with that, dear reader, on this anniversary of Mary Oliver's death; I'll leave you with two of her poems one about the Great Blue Heron (Heron Rises from the Dark, Summer Pond) who is a bird I encountered in Central Park and one about American Goldfinches (Goldfinches), who have visited my garden.

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself —
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

In the fields
we let them have-
in the fields
we don’t want yet-

where thistles rise
out of the marshlands of spring, and spring open-
each bud
a settlement of riches-

a coin of reddish fire-
the finches
wait for midsummer,
for the long days,

for the brass heat,
for the seeds to begin to form in the hardening thistles,
dazzling as the teeth of mice,
but black,

filling the face of every flower.
Then they drop from the sky.
A buttery gold,
they swing on the thistles, they gather

the silvery down, they carry it
in their finchy beaks
to the edges of the fields,
to the trees,

as though their minds were on fire
with the flower of one perfect idea-
and there they build their nests
and lay their pale-blue eggs,

every year,
and every year
the hatchlings wake in the swaying branches,
in the silver baskets,

and love the world.
Is it necessary to say any more?
Have you heard them singing in the wind, above the final fields?

Have you ever been so happy in your life?

Purchase info for my book series:

Volume One: ISBN: 9780996378529
Book Seller Info:
Barnes & Noble On-Line:
book culture On Columbus (a bookstore on the UWS in NYC):

Volume Two: ISBN: 9780996378536
Book Seller Info:
Barnes & Noble On-Line:

Volume Three: ISBN: 978099637853
Book Seller Info:
Barnes & Noble On-Line:



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