Thursday, January 1, 2009

Pearl Grey

I found out a girlfriend is facing a very tough road. It's not path I would wish on anyone. For now we have each other at least, for a little comfort and commiseration. I mentioned my new theory about life, that it is meant to have dark and bright moments; that's the beauty of it. As an artist, I've learned that the brights are brighter because we have the shadows to highlight how beautiful the good bits can be.

My girlfriend laughed and reminded me that God might be listening. He might just help us get our wish. I quickly wished rather for the beauty of "pearl grey" in her life. She agreed, saying that one of her goals is to face her situation with "equanimity". What a fine word.

The beauty of monochrome brought to mind an image I saw out the greyhound window as hubby and I travelled back from Calgary. It was twilight, and the dimming light shaded the snowy fields with the same blue as the sky. I watched this deep blue form from ground to horizon, all the same, except for a faint line of shadow of trees. Beautiful. This picture is the closest that google granted me.

I am borrowing the picture from

Just today I got an excited call from my granddaughter and daughter about a sighting of an impressive grey bird that flocked in to our neighbourhood. While I was slaving away at work, they were taking a much-needed break at home. My daughter described a large flock of birds, brown, with bits of yellow and their heads tipped with red. "They have a nice call too, mom." I answered reflexively, "Cedar Waxwings. They come here for the Mountain Ash berries." There are very few birds who stay behind for the winter, and fewer still who travel in large flocks. I would say the birds are more a beautiful washed grey than a brown. They are another example of the beauty of monochrome.

Cedar Waxwings congregate to tough out our winters together. Chicadees, too, stay our winter in little flocks, calling out in their ever cheerful way where food might be found.

You can listen to the Cedar Waxwing's call here, and one of the Chicadee's calls here. As an aside, Chicadees have some of the most sophisticated calls in the natural world.

You might wonder why a bird would choose to stay for our winters instead of migrating south like so many others. For one thing, they have fewer predators to worry about. They also don't have to expend a great amount of energy on the trip. Instead, they focus on getting through the winter together, hunting out the best places to visit for their energy needs. It seems to me that a bird choosing to tough it out here would also by necessity be a community. And be as cheerful as it could be under the circumstances.

We need each other to cheer ourselves up, to keep going, to make it through. I had another incident today that made me wonder if our cruel weather is responsible for making Canadians so polite. I'll talk about that next.