do any of you out there remember reading that wonderful novel green mansions as a child, or young adult? remember that lingering feeling afterwards, when you would look up into the surrounding trees, if you were lucky and had the lushness of them, as i did, growing up? remember thinking that the green canopies of all those leaves provided a protective ceiling for you, one that sunlight filtered through in different varying shades of yellow and green, and warmed your arms and legs in dappled spots, and welcomed you to lie down in the grass and look up, up, up? well?
i've been remember- ing a lot this week. summer seems to have suddenly draped herself over the mountains here on firefly road, which is fine and good by me; she just caught me by surprise, really, as we'd had such a long spell of cold nights and mornings with a lot of grey, rainy afternoons in between. which brings all that green into the trees, so suddenly and splendidly. a few nights back, roy and i joined friends up into the woods once it got completely dark for a viewing of the blue ghosts - appalachian lightning bugs that are as tiny as gnats, lovely little things that hover and dip and swirl about over the forest floor, not blinking off and on but staying lit for what seemed like minutes at a time with a bluish or whitish light - making them seem like little fairies were carrying candles there all about us as we sat on rocks there in the dark. we could actually watch as one would stay in one spot and one or two would fly up to "visit" with it. this was truly magic, i'm telling you - as is the way that the regular lightning bugs are making the woods across from our deck sparkle and shimmer like christmas trees, now that warmer evenings are here. no wonder they named this country lane firefly road!
what has had me truly looking upward of late, early in the mornings and last thing at dusk, is a beautiful birdsong, one that is ellusive and ethereal, and sounds like something - as my friend tommy says - played on a magical crystal flute. no bird is ever seen. and i know my birds that visit this house: all too well do i know the redundant phoebe, calling her name over and over and over again just outside my bedroom window from dawn until dusk (PHOEbe, PHOEbe, PHOEbe she cries, until i want to bang on the window and yell, yes, honey, dammit, i hear you!), the fussbudget wren, the hummingbirds, cardinals, bluebirds, chickadee, and oh, those wonderfully wise and raucous crows. but what song drew me out into the last of the day, what one lone mysterious bird was singing in the woods there, hidden, deep in the midst of all that green?
out came the bird book. i have this one marvelous dated one from 1936, birds of america, 8" x 11", over two inches thick and full of color plates - a real door stopper. i lugged it home from a library used book store, overjoyed with my treasure, and have referred to it on numerous occasions throughout these recent years. the archaic wording is dear, and i enjoy putting on the tea kettle when combing through its ample pages. listen to the description of what i discovered is a wood thrush haunting me with those mysterious, incredibly beautiful melodies each and every morning and evening:
"...the wood thrush is unlike any other woodsdwelling member of his famous family in the respect that, though deep woods are his natural and generally preferred abiding place, he frequently makes his home near human habitations. he seems never to become domesticated in the degree that the robins and the bluebirds do and his demeanor is always more shy and retiring than theirs. nevertheless he is often found conducting his family affairs in the shade trees or shrubbery very near the homes of men. he is the handsomest member of his tribe, and has withal the most elegant manners....it is generally too fanciful to find resemblances between bird notes and spoken words, but no one with an ear for time and tune can deny that bird songs may - by coincidence, of course - repeat known musical phrases. so sane and accurate an observer as herbert k. job finds in the phrase of the wood thrush a distinct suggestion of "the opening appeal in weber's "invitation to the dance', and again the 'sweetly solemn thought' of handel's 'largo' from 'xerxes.'"
well. i don't know about all of that, but i do agree with thoreau, who wrote this: "whenever a man hears it he is young, and Nature is in her spring; wherever he hears it, it is a new world and a free country, and the gates of heaven are not shut against him."
i haven't been able to write about what i've been feeling for the past week - haven't known what to say, how to say it. then today when i was finishing up a necklace, once again i was taken by how much my emotions are caught up and captured in the work that i create. the back of the little fern frame simply says "hide and seek". this particular piece is off tomorrow to the gallery of the mountains in asheville's historical grove park inn, where it will hopefully find its way to someone who continues to lie down beneath green mansions, in soft grasses, while she listens to the wood thrush calling her into the magical night.