Sunday, May 5, 2013

Casualties of Spring

T.S. Eliot said, April is the cruelest month. I tend to agree. Amidst all the bloom and greening of the earth, surrounded by the sounds and smells we had forgotten from a year ago, and the brush of a spring breeze on our newly bared skin, there are casualties.

On a bright afternoon, just out of reach of laughter, tea and friendship, a mouse lay dead on the sun dappled walkway of my friend's house. It's hard to know what had caused its demise with no outward signs of injury. Was it just his time or perhaps a wandering cat having a bad day scared it to death.

A few days later, while backing my car out of the garage, I noticed a silvery patch among last year's tattered leaves. It was a tiny body of a chickadee, new feathers poking out and tiny wings spread ready for a flight it would never experience. The two inch long chick was a good distance from the birdhouse that had so recently become occupied, and I have to wonder how it had gotten to the opening and fallen so far from home. The next day, the nesting material was clogging the entrance hole, maybe from an effort to clean out the failed nest.

I have always felt it a waste of a life not to pay homage to a wild thing that has died, so they both made their way to my freezer. I know this isn't a pleasant idea for some of you but it allows me to study and sketch an animal that might not be accessible to me otherwise. With each line I draw, I learn more and honor the beauty before me.

I am hoping there isn't another casualty waiting for me to discover. My faithful friend Silver hasn't been around for days, leaving his supper uneaten for the blackbirds to squabble over the next morning. He's an old fellow and perhaps just too tired to continue making his rounds, but I miss him. He has been a constant in my life for years, a friend I looked forward to visiting with when I couldn't sleep in the wee hours of the morning. But maybe April hasn't been that cruel.

Spring also brings promises, and I know there will be another chickadee family in the birdhouse with babies to listen to and peek at through the entry hole. And mice will continue to race across the driveway, their cheeks stuffed with sunflower seeds to take home to their families. Hopefully there will be another Silver to court a friendship or Silver himself will return with wonderful tales of his adventures to share with me under the stars.

There's something about those two words: hope and spring. Oh yes, I remember, hope springs eternal.

"I dwell in Possibility."    Emily Dickinson


  1. "Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way". - John Muir

  2. Thank you for that. So very true.