Nature Notes Spring 2011

Greg Armstrong Nature Notes 1 Comment

Female red-winged blackbird

Female red-winged blackbird

My childhood memory of red-winged blackbirds is one of hot sweltering days in the wetlands around my home. I heard a red-winged blackbird singing, just now at the spring equinox, when it was cold and dreary out with some snow still on the ground. My mind had a hard time dealing with a red-winged song in this weather. It just didn’t seem right. However, in fact it is right, since the red-winged blackbirds do come back north early in the spring after a winter in the southern US or Mexico. Come to the monastery to see and hear these wonderful birds that are now with us. It’s funny that those childhood memories can transport me back to a time many years ago, and that the impressions are deeply ingrained in my subconscious until suddenly released by a sound or smell. Delightful! Come and try it out for yourself.

I also heard a huge flock of sand hill cranes flying over the other morning. I don’t have a childhood memory of hearing them, but their primitive sounding honk is wonderful. You can come to Holy Wisdom Monastery to hear these sounds of spring and much more. Whether they transport you back to an earlier day or not will be up to your subconscious. I hope it thrills you in either case.

Spring is a busy time for Paul Boutwell and the many volunteers that work on the land at the monastery. It is time to burn some of the prairies. Planting will happen in several places to finish off the restoration of prairie and rain gardens around the new monastery building. If this type of work brings you closer to God and the beautiful elements of his creation, I am sure Paul would be very pleased to have you join him. Paul by the way is a very sensitive observer of nature and I think you would enjoy his company. Another way of appreciating the natural beauty of Holy Wisdom Monastery is to participate in the many activities of the place including retreats or the spring Community Workday on May 14, 2011. Attending Sunday Assembly worship at 9:00 am on Sundays can be another way of immersing yourself in the beauty of creation. A nice stroll to the top of the hill to overlook the prairie and Lake Mendota, or a jaunt down to Lost Lake to visit the prairie, wetland and pond communities can be wonderful for the spirit before or after Sunday Assembly. This spring would be a good time to visit Holy Wisdom Monastery with the “rebirth” and generosity of nature at its fullest.

For more information on volunteering at Holy Wisdom Monastery contact Jan at (608) 836-1631 x123; or for information on Sunday Assembly contact Lynn at (608) 836-1631 x138.

Comments 1

  1. Thanks for these observations and stories, Greg. The red-wing blackbird song conjures up floods of memories and connections to time and place for me as well. I remember particularly that it was the call of this bird, over the marshlands near our home, that allowed me to really mourn my father’s death several years ago. That call just takes me to a very elemental, sacred and safe place. My first hearing and sighting of the red-wing blackbird this year was, in fact, here at the monastery. A joy to have them back again!

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