Saturday, January 7, 2012


Five or six Pine Grosbeaks have graced the feeder during the last week or two. The males' bright crimson feathers provide just about the only color outside these days. The trees are draped with white, all of them drooping with the weight of the snow. The sky is a light grey, nearly white. Other visitors include a flock of 10 or more Redpolls, three Grey Jays, a single male Downy Woodpecker, a Hairy Woodpecker pair, a half dozen Boreal Chickadees, and ten or so Black Capped Chickadees. A raven swooped through the feeder area this morning, uninterested in what we have to offer, its mind on other opportunities.

I've been sleeping off a cold, sleeping 12 to 14 hours a day. I dream of flowing water, verdant green fields and woods, and warmth. Obviously not Alaska. People and animal companions long gone from my life visit me in my dreams, proving to me once again that there is a spirit world. That fact continues to elude my acceptance, although I have had so many spirit-visitors, particularly since 1990. Just this past fall, in my temporary office in the windowless sub-basement of Gruening, a spirit shared space with me. I experienced it as small, cat-size or maybe smaller. It would sprint past my right ankle, always the right ankle, just barely brushing my pants. The visits became so routine that the sensation no longer startled me. Months later I mentioned the experiences to a work colleague, who affirmed that she had once kept lab rats in that office, and that the spirit surely was that of a rat. I don't know whether to feel pity for the spirit, thinking that its life was one of torture and pain and even in death can find no release. Or perhaps I should feel elated, believing that the rat-spirit now runs its own mazes, for its own purposes, free from human intervention.

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