A Crossbill In Wayward Gales

Call little crossbill, lost on the winter gale; though your flock is gone.

Punctuate every furlong with your merry voice.

Despair not little crossbill, lost on the winter gale;

For if I can hear you as you wing, there is hope your fellows might too.



“Red Crossbill” ¬©Jacob S. Spendelow. Used with permission.

Recently I experienced an uncommon sighting of a red crossbill. Uncommon bird sightings aren’t actually that uncommon during regional high winds or storms, yet it still felt a treat to be reacquainted with one of my favorite rufous little finches.

It quickly became apparent that the fellow was lost and separated from his flock. There wasn’t even a sign of the mixed species flocks that sometimes form during winters.  The buffeted crossbill began to call for his companions, and words filled my mind. A wish to encourage him touched me, even though I try to observe behaviors with detached objectivity. Of course the best I could do was chase him to a higher branch so cats wouldn’t be tempted by the attention he drew to himself.  Forgive me for being sentimental this time.

Click here for more information about red crossbills. The sounds I heard were the call, not the song, which you can listen to thanks to Cornell Labs.

The Inner Hearth

 Desolation is not the grating and abrasive sand of an expansive desert; nor is it the merciless sun as it bleaches bones.

Desolation is not the acrid and stagnant water of a dank swamp; nor is it the trees’ weak perspiration as it drips and echoes.

Desolation is not the vast and barren sea, full of salt and brine; nor is it the minuscule waves as they lap and tease of far-away winds.

Nay, desolation is this house of a heart, with all ready to make a home.

It is the late summer sun filtering through the shade, the spectacle of a sunset. It’s the glory of the Milky Way, the miracle of the universe.

It is a hearth warmed and a kettle heated.

Indeed, desolation is this house of a heart: furnished and ready, with no occupant to share but for one’s own shadow as it pivots with the arc of time.