Out on a limb
Flight is often on my mind. I’m walking down a path, small birds, probably sparrows, are scattered ahead pecking at the ground. As I get closer, they hop and scuttle a few feet further. We continue until, too close, they fly off in different directions.
If walking softly early or at dusk, a rabbit might appear, grazing on verdant growth. I stop, rabbit freezes other than chewing, watching with one large eye. I blink, and see the tip of the tail disappear into the side brush. Senses are now on full alert. Is that sound a woodpecker chiseling into deep wood for grubs? Now I’m taking the rabbit stance, freeze, listen, look. Often it’s a Downey. If extremely fortunate, could be a Pileated with a mane of scarlet. I call my studio, “The Laughing Woodpecker”. We both share share compulsive behaviors with wood. I lace mine with sly humor.
Other times, walking by water maybe, just maybe, I’ll see a Kingfisher, ever watchful, and then, the dive. It’s the accuracy of the dive which matters most. When carving the semblance of gestures, it is the skill with a knife, chisels, and hand saws that matter.
Sometimes I imagine walking with invisible lines connected to all the birds I see. If only, they could lift me off the ground. I rely on being in my art zone to do that.
I recall a Billy Collins poem about a man walking down a city street with a songbird on a leash, looking at store windows, waiting at crosswalk for the light to change. And then crossing together in a very civilized manner. Imagination takes my mind off leash.
Stan Peterson
Earth day and beyond musings, 2021