holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Through the big church windows we watched a black dog on a long chain chasing its tail. The priest elevated the thinnest cummunion wafers I had ever seen, as thin as parchment. The faithful lined up to drink wine from the same cup, a white cloth circling the rim after each sip.

On the drive out to the graveyard, the guy I rode with told me how he went to jail once for stealing apples from the state prison, & was discharged a few days early for refusing to eat.

At the graveside ceremony, the deacon splashed holy water on the wrong marker at first. The widow read the inscription & was astonished to discover the name of her best friend.

We gathered afterwards at the home of the deceased, where the church provided food & the family provided alcohol. Most of the rest of us only brought bons mots and funny stories, but a fiddler & a jazz singer brought their songs, which they performed separately: instrument without voice, voice without instrument, & both without the man for whom they performed.

Questions about birds

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

What made the stork ancestor of New World vultures forsake its obstretrics practice for the morgue?


Where does the wood thrush store its silver bells when it flies south for the winter?


Did the old trout learn how to lurk from studying ospreys?


Is it the excess of sky following a clearcut that gives cerulean warblers the blues?


If jewelweeds were never ensorceled by a hummingbird’s wand, would they still turn into touch-me-nots?


How many swallows does it take to make a summer?


Do winter wrens come back from the dead to haunt the enemies of clutter?


When a flock of grackles pivots around a hawk, are they trying to drive it mad?


Why do goldfinches go to all the trouble of building watertight nests if they never go boating?


What does a 25-pound wild turkey know about flying that a 3-pound chicken does not?


Would bitterns burp as loudly if they didn’t swallow frogs?


How do we know the loopy displays of male woodcocks aren’t aimed at the earthworms?


Does the cardinal attacking his reflection in the window learn to hate the color red?


Is the drumming grouse testing the air for ripeness, the way we thump melons?


What does the scarlet tanager see in our boring northern forests to justify an annual fight all the way from South America?


How many paper girls will it take to save the Japanese crane?


Two of my favorite books by Pablo Neruda are The Art of Birds and The Book of Questions. I wanted to try and write something in the style of both. I’ve crossposted a hyperlinked version to The Clade.

Economy, ecology, and trees

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

A quick post to point readers to three exciting things happening today:

  • Qarrtsiluni announces the theme of its summer issue: Economy.

    Whatever medium you choose to work in, be it words, photography, music or video, make economy earn its keep to deliver a piece that nails thought, character, place or plot. As Anne Carson wrote in Economy of the Unlost, “Economy is a trope of intellectual, aesthetic and moral value.”

  • The Clade — a brand-new group environmental blog — spreads its wings.

    Who are our contributors? You are. The whole point of this experiment in reinventing environmental journalism is to put you behind the wheel. You need not be a journalist, nor an expert, nor an activist: if you care about the environment and you have something to say, we want you on board.

  • The Festival of the Trees celebrates Beltane at Orchards Forever.

    Beltane was originally a fertility festival, and what better inspiration for love and romance than trees festooned in delicate, fragrant blossoms?