Reub's journey

08 April 2012

Juxtapositions right now

There's a strange vibe that surrounds this season. I mean, when else would I possibly blunder onto a mysterious scene like this? What other time of year is such a mix of light and dark, beginnings and endings?

It's not changing the subject to say that the turkey vultures are back. To tell you the truth I'm happy to see them, these intelligent, misunderstood animals who leave before the weather gets cold and return now to soar and play in the warm thermals high above.

Through a screen of fragile alder tree catkins I watched a vulture sunning his wings atop a snag, soaking up the rare spring sunshine with all of his might. Seeing these enormous carrion-eaters above the quickening April landscape is a strange life-death juxtaposition.

Life and death all at once: how very very Easter-ish. Like this pile of slash that somebody dumped in the woods behind our house over the winter.

The cherry branches strewn in a heap on the ground have no idea that they're dead. They're in full bloom, and I gathered an armful to take home.

The edge between light and dark is never so poignant as it is right now, on the cusp of spring.

Still, citizen sparrow, this vulture which you call
Unnatural, let him but lumber again to air
Over the rotten office, let him bear
The carrion ballast up, and at the tall
Tip of the sky lie cruising. 
Then you'll see
That no more beautiful bird is in heaven's height,

No wider more placid wings, no watchfuller flight;
He shoulders nature there, the frightfully free,

The naked-headed one. Pardon him, you
Who dart in the orchard aisles, for it is he
Devours death, mocks mutability,
Has heart to make an end, keeps nature new.
From "Still, Citizen Sparrow" by Richard Wilbur


  1. a lost maiden in your first shot? waiting for her knight in shining armor?

  2. You are so on it, Kerry! Oh yeah. It's Passoverish, too, very much so! I posted a link to the OnBeing show this morning, about a man whose garden is the literal expression of exactly what you've so beautifully described.

    I saw a bunch of turkey vultures yesterday when I got out of town for a few hours. They are graceful - wobbly, but graceful. Thank god for them!

    And you!

  3. Wow, shades of Julia Margaret Cameron in the first shot.

  4. Beautiful images, the cherry blossoms that don't know they're dead.

  5. What an interesting collection of images. I'd love to know the story behind the first one and for goodness sake.. dead branches blooming? Too wonderful.

  6. twg: When I first saw her off in the distance I thought she was a princess, I did!

    Reya,Beginnings and endings are inextricable aren't they?

    I LOVE it that you say thank god for vultures, and then me, too: coolest compliment ever.

    Snow: Yeah there's definitely a 19th-century look to that photo. I don't know much about Julia Margaret Cameron...was there a fascination with the Arthurian legends going on with her?

    Laoch: Thanks!

    Ellen: I just looked at them this morning, and they're still blooming, weirdly beautiful.

    Hilary: I thought the woman in white was all alone out there, but turns out there was somebody (obscured in the bushes) either filming or photographing her. Some kind of photo shoot? Student film project? Dramatic senior photo? I don't know.

  7. I LOVE the one of the vulture with wings spread, faded in the background

  8. oh my! how lovely this all is
    as I read I kept saying Yes!, that's how I feel
    only you describe it better

    thanks for visiting me :)
    and brava to you too

  9. So snow leopard is being kind to you now?

    Whatever you do, don't go for lion, you won't want to sit up in a cloud somewhere and unable to get back down to earth. Down to those beautiful cherry blossoms who don't know they're meant to be dead and gone.

  10. Lovely images and prose! Congratulations on your POTW.

  11. ALRN: Thanks! I almost deleted that one from the camera, thinking it was a loser.

    Pauline, Dianne, Karen: Thank you! You're all so nice.

    Friko: I was determined not to bore everybody by continually going on about my computer travails. But since you bring it up: Snow Leopard and I are getting along just fine, but only after scrubbing ourselves clean of every remnant of Tiger (in doing so I learned a lot, and did not have to go to outside help). I thought about jumping to Lion, but no. I didn't do that even though a close family member is an expert in cloud computing. We'll wait and see what the next big cat is.

  12. Hi: Visiting via Hilary! Great photos and an enjoyable visit!!


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