Farewells – Part 1

The mockingbirds sing and display, their aerial ballets worthy of the finest stages across the globe and their diverse songs reminiscent of the finest works of Mozart.  The first purple martin arrived yesterday, a vanguard leading the way for many others to follow, and soon they will fill the days with profound beauty.  The merlin waded into the crystal river and began its long swim northward, putting behind it this cold season in the south and setting its eyes on love to be found in another place and at another time.  The mourning doves pour upon the sunrise their woeful dirge until my eyes water at the sadness of the sound, yet to them it is not sad but joyous, a plaintive call that seeks to warm the heart of another.

Even as more snow is forecast next week, nature prepares her children for the season that is to come.  An eclectic celebration of dance and music.  The building of nests and the starting of families.  The putting on of fine colors and patterns, the best dress available, the finest suit.  And her migrating offspring begin their journeys.  While many will leave, many more will arrive.  Yet it is the farewells which cut us deeply, not the hellos.

So in honor of the endings that now beset us and the beginnings they foretell, I offer this brief series in celebration of the lives with whom I’ve shared a brief moment this winter, the faces that will now pass into memory as new faces take their place.  And because I believe no life is complete without reading it, I will include the divine words of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet alongside the beauty of that which even now passes into history.

Farewell to you and the youth I have spent with you.

Yellow-rumped warbler (a.k.a. myrtle warbler or Audubon’s warbler; Dendroica coronata) perched in a bush (2010_02_06_049418)

It was but yesterday we met in a dream.

Cedar waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) perched on a branch (2010_02_06_049331)

You have sung to me in my aloneness, and I of your longings have built a tower in the sky.

Brown creeper (Certhia americana) climbing the side of a tree (2010_02_07_049537)

But now our sleep has fled and our dream is over, and it is no longer dawn.

A mated pair of northern pintails (Anas acuta) swimming in the bay (2010_01_24_048844)

The noontide is upon us and our half waking has turned to fuller day, and we must part.

Song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) perched in winter reeds (2010_01_12_048009)

If in the twilight of memory we should meet once more, we shall speak again together and you shall sing to me a deeper song.

Ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis) standing on a submerged log (2009_12_20_045591)

And if our hands should meet in another dream we shall build another tower in the sky.

— — — — — — — — — —

For those looking to fill your weekend not with farewells but with hellos, I turn your attention to these delectable blog carnivals.

Friday Ark #283: Steve ushers critters aboard the ark throughout the weekend, so visit now and visit often.  Through Sunday you will find a growing collection of marvels both great and small.

I and the Birds #119: The Cult of Birds: I cannot recommend enough that you visit Laura’s edition of this bird carnival.  She is someone I look up to as a writer, a naturalist, a feeler of emotions.  Her edition of this celebration of all things winged is the preeminent presentation that should not be missed.

An Inordinate Fondness #1 – Inaugural Issue: A man for whom I have developed a sincere admiration and great fondness, Ted MacRae offers up the inaugural edition of a carnival celebrating the largest group of animals on the planet: beetles.  His passion manifests clearly in this festival, and he sets the bar high for future versions that no doubt will struggle to meet this standard.


[1] Juvenile yellow-rumped warbler (a.k.a. myrtle warbler or Audubon’s warbler; Dendroica coronata)

[2] Subadult cedar waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

[3] Brown creeper (Certhia americana)

[4] Mated pair of northern pintails (Anas acuta)

[5] Song sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

[6] Ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis)

10 thoughts on “Farewells – Part 1”

  1. I’m always sad as winter draws to a close. Some of my favorite birds are seasonal friends. This year brought huge flocks of robins and red-winged blackbirds into our field and our woods. I hope that the brown thrasher decides to stay–he’s become a real favorite.

  2. I feel the same way, Joy. Winter visitors feel like beloved guests. I hate to see them leave. I know the world will explode with other life that returns and that comes out of winter hiding, but seasonal migrants are the highlight of cold weather.

    You live in North Central Texas (somewhere around the DFW metroplex), right? Brown thrashers are year-round residents, so I have my fingers crossed that your winter visitor is actually a new resident who’s claimed that territory. They are such delightful birds!

    1. Thank you, Jill! Those two shots were taken nearly side by side. I sat on a fallen tree for a few hours and had all sorts of critters move in close. As long as I didn’t shuffle in my seat too much, they didn’t worry about me.

  3. Thank you for identifying our “little green birds” as orange crowned warblers, tho we have never seen the orange crown. We have enjoyed watching them eat dozens of blocks of suet. The kinglets and yellow rumps feed on the ground, eating what the warblers drop. This morning we were honored by a flock of cedar wax wings, no doubt the most beautiful of all birds.

    1. I’m tickled that the photo helped you ID a bird, Shirley. I’ve been observing orange-crowned warblers for twenty-something years but have never seen the orange crown. As far as I know, it’s many times more difficult to see than the red crest on a ruby-crowned kinglet. And it sounds like you have a fantastic display of birds visiting your yard. What a delight!

  4. The Waxwing, especially, took my breath away.

    Oh, to sit for hours. It’s a gift, Jason. I’m such a squirmer. Maybe in another life I’ll be able to just. sit. still.

    1. You’re too kind, Jain. Thank you!

      I can sit for hours letting nature move around me. That’s not to say I don’t take long meandering walks, because I do. Sometimes I’m like a spring wound up too tight and unable to stop moving. But other times I just want to sit, let the world drift by at its own pace, and see what hides in the stillness. And I’ve found that’s often a good way to let wildlife move in close.

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