Saturday, July 26, 2008

rooks in the garden


There are rooks in my garden. Big, raven-feathered McCaw-like creatures who waddle and cackle near the old dog roses that I transplanted several years ago, and grow anywhere in any conditions. It’s both disappointing and tremendous that these wild roses only bloom once in the summer, sometime around the 4th of July declaring their own independence from my gardener’s insistent desires. They are fleeting, simple in their design—five pink petals with yellow fringed centers—and they last only for a moment. Now, at the end of July they are nearly all turned to rosehips. But why am I talking about the roses? I meant to be talking about the rooks.

The rooks vie for our attention. They are competitive by nature, surly and sulky like grade school bullies. How can they compete with the pretty sweet-songed yellow finches that pose in the apple trees? Or with the swooping, comedic swallows who line up their children on our roof for daily flying lessons sending our two black-haired cats into gnashing frenzies, their fur shivering in anticipation? We cannot even remember the rooks when confronted with the flashes of color from the orange-breasted oriole who shows off close to where we sit in the morning for tea. Rooks? What rooks?

So the rooks create noise where there is not color, or daintiness, or sonnet-like poetry. They create guffaws of noise, and sometimes draw out emotion by sounding like howling cats, or terrified children. The rooks, unable to dazzle, associate themselves with mystery and portent. I think of the young adult novel by Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising; I think of a long-time ago when my husband and I used to own a bakery and I would deliver bread to a store with a back entry off a thick wood, and the rooks would collect every evening in the bare trees overhead like a gathering storm. The melancholic stockman told me they came every night, it was the rooks’ nature, and he felt in communion with them; I think of the rook who landed once near my brother-in-law who was laying on the soft green of a university lawn, and giddy, or drunk on crab-apples, sauntered over and climbed up onto my brother-in-laws chest, standing there, playing king-of-the-hill and looking my brother-in-law square in the eye.

This morning the rooks have settled near the garden, one on the dark fence calling throatily. I wonder if something has died. I grab my camera to try and catch him lording over those roses. But as if he senses me standing and staring from the kitchen window, he leaps up and is gone from the frame, (maybe I can see a whisper of his wing?), proving that you cannot capture on film messengers from the world of spirits.

--Deirdre

2 comments:

David said...

Sitting here in the middle of the flat lands of Michigan, I can easily transport myself to your stoop looking out at your garden. Such a special place for me. Every visit is special. I am very jealous of the rooks, bees and insects that visit you both daily. Whether in the middle of the summer months harvesting of the vegetables and herbs you will turn into magic or during a February snow storm drinking an espresso, the sounds and solitude equal the beauty of each hug I get from you both. Serenity. David

Deirdre and Caleb said...

David, Thanks for all your good thoughts! They are so appreciated and make it worth the blogging....Where are you in Michigan?

Thanks so much,
Deirdre