In the deep of last night, I woke with a south wind rushing over the ridge behind our house. In my sleep, I’d been dreaming of howling wolves in the moonlight, and when I opened the balcony door to stave off the wolves from my household, a strange warmth blew in over the snow. In the moonlight, I saw only the bare sticks of blueberry bushes, the hydrangea with its papery blossoms, long since dead yet stubbornly hanging on. Persistent.
With the wind murmuring like the sea, I lay reading Anthony Doerr’s memoir about living in Rome with his wife and two infant sons. In that ancient city, he watched flocks of starlings rise and dive in enormous flocks, while he held a baby, the little one drinking milk. Afterward, the book closed, I lay thinking of the pigeons I’d studied not long ago, weaving in and out of a slate-shingled church steeple in Montpelier. I’d stood alone on the library steps, admiring the ribbons of flight, and then I simply closed my eyes and listened to the cooing.
Knowingly or not, we all stand there… reading the omens of the birds. The real question, the one that keeps me coming back to this railing, night after night, is Why do they bother to be so beautiful?
Starling, earthling. How little we understand, Nero had a starling that spoke Greek and Latin, Mozart kept a starling in a cage beside his piano.
–– Anthony Doerr, Four Seasons in Rome