To listen to this post, please click here:Wording the Wordless
How often we seek words for the wordless. There is so much wordlessness in our universe I sometimes feel like the miller’s daughter in Rumplestiltskin: “Spin this impossible heap of straw into gold!” (I’m not complaining, really.)
While last weekend’s storm delivered ample length and breadth and depth of snow, in our neck of the woods it was less weep-eyed blizzard and more happy-handed snowglobe. It kindly slowed and stopped in plenty of time for Saturday dinner guests to arrive and depart in utter confidence.
When Sunday’s blazing blue sky shouted through the windowpanes, I strapped on my cross-country skis and headed into the foot-deep snowscape surrounding our house.
Bright dunes and mesas appeared in the glowing white topography contoured by Saturday’s winds. The snow was fluffy, but so deep that rather than charging around the fields as is my wont, I kept to a small loop, establishing a smooth run, instead of struggling over the acres.
What tells us wordlessly to loop this way and not that? What tells us to look up, just there, just now?
In a moment I was nearly swept off my skis by the surprise, the power and the meaning of a bald eagle circling over our neighbor’s forest and field. Here, sixty miles north of New York City.
I stood gape-jawed, watching the serene, unmistakeable being. I wanted to fetch my husband, but feared that if I moved, the eagle would glide away. If eagle ears were sharp as eagle eyes, the excited thump of my heart might have driven him off. Couldn’t tell my husband, couldn’t call a soul. I thought of you, dear reader, and knew a few days hence you would join me in the moment, but then and there I stood alone and wordless for a full five minutes of wonder.
I shot the picture of my trail this morning. The eagle’s you must picture for yourself here in the rhomboid of blue above our potting shed.
Rumplestiltskin aside, I’ve discovered I cannot help leaving a trail in words anymore that I can help leaving a trail in the snow.
An eagle needs no trail, leaves no trail, wears his own down jacket, needs no skis, no words. I was going to say he needs only a brilliant day and an upward thermal.
But an eagle needs territory. He, too, needs to arrive and depart in utter confidence. How miraculous that so many people have worked so hard to preserve this for him and for us.
I just made a spontaneous donation to the Hudson Highlands Land Trust. You may have some local people you want to thank for gifts in your area. (Or perhaps The Natural Resources Defense Council, The Audubon Society, or Clearwater.) Sometimes the best words for the wordless are actions.
Publishing Update: Spoke with the folks at Holiday House, publisher of my new children’s book, “Forest What Would You Like?”. Turns out the pub date is indeed March 1, the date by which all the reviews should be in. They plan to launch the book that day, and a secondary launch on Earth Day. If you are a Goodreads reader, you should know I will shortly be having a giveaway of the book. When this goes live, I’ll update this blog, Wednesday or not!
A note: I’d like to see this book in arboretums, National Parks, botanic gardens and green places of all kinds. If you have any suggestions I’d be delighted to see them. Many thanks. Incidentally, my ebook “Glad To Be Human” will be coming out, but we’re waiting till after this launch.