Feather Focus

I’ve been trying to write this post about feathers for weeks now, but my brain seems reluctant to string words together.

The world news makes almost everything else seem feather-light and trivial.

But sometimes, I can’t sustain the wide-eyed, wide-angle focus on the state of things. I just have to zoom in on something small and close by … something that has a pattern and seems to make sense of the world for a moment or two.

“Hope” is the the thing with feathers ” by Emily Dickinson is the first thing to float into my mind when thinking of feathers.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

The line that stands out to me the most in this beautiful poem at the current time of reading is “And sings the tune without the words -”

I often wish we could just stop and listen to the wordless tune that nature belts out every day, whether we’re paying attention or not.

Lately, it seems as if words, used so rarely as a means of getting to real understanding, are only getting us into more trouble.

It gets hard to hear the “thing with feathers” amid the Gale of unfiltered information thundering around us.

To avoid adding too many more of my own words to the storm, here are a few feathers to consider in quietness.

A tiny, fingernail-sized mystery feather I found in the garden recently

Greatly magnified Anna’s Hummingbird feathers

Feathers always look best on the bird …

Female Wood Duck feather detail

Male Wood Duck feather detail

Below is a Sooty Grouse tail feather that I found, inexplicably, in our 100% grouse-free urban neighbourhood.

Fabulously blue Steller’s Jay feathers

Proud owner of the electric blue feathers

Red-winged blackbird epaulettes

Crow feathers, newly grown in after the moulting season — just in time for the winter rains

The miracle of Starling feathers

I was actually on the point of abandoning this blog post altogether when I had a visit from Sparky, “the thing with feathers” personified. He gave me a fizzy starling pep talk.

A new print — “Hope is the thing.




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17 thoughts on “Feather Focus

  1. Gorgeous pics and prose, thanks June. This blast of continous rain is welcome. Despite the non-stop rain, my bird bath attracts, and as fall arrives, the robins have come back, who wade, sit, flap, head dunk over and over again. I love my bird bath.

  2. I loved this post. Gazing at these feathers calmed my soul.The photos are really beautiful. And seeing the Starling feathers up close! They are one of my favorite birds to watch, after the crows and ravens of course. They are so cheerful and animated, comical at times. I look forward to seeing them arrive in their little groups, to eat the cracked corn on my patio. Sigh…thank you for focusing today and getting this posted. It made my day.

  3. Thank you for this magnificent posting. calming in these very disturbing times. The fact that you have a couple of ducks in here made me especially joyful as they are my very favorite birds. I was blessed to have a little summer place in PEI for a few years and my 3 amigos, three crows greeting me and alerting me when a fox would come on deck to be fed was a joy I cannot replicate in the big city.
    The last picture of the contrasting feathers is absolutely stunning. I love black and white pictrues, they are so dramatic.
    Thank you for being back with messages of hope.

  4. Wonderful, wonderful feather shots.
    Woodduck feathers are so full of shades of colours.
    Thanks for sharing, June.

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