friends, myth, nature, relationships

shot down . stuck fast . dark flight

just when i think it’s too much to bear . . . when my life seems turned on its ear, snaking about on a twisted, circular track and i feel like curling in on myself . . . i go back to the beginning as i end again.

i have been absent. from everything (including here and my photography as well) except work, which i have been doing quite a bit of.

my eight-year relationship recently self-destructed. and i’m just going to make it plain for you and for me . . . mostly, i am profoundly heartbroken, numbed and utterly daunted by the idea of dating, taking meals, movies and sleeping alone, weary of having to explain myself and learn someone new, having to relearn myself, afraid of being disappointed, dreading the whole “this-is-what-i’m-about-how-’bout-you” exercise, farting in front of someone new, being naked, learning a new kiss. it all horrifies me and i don’t even want to begin. i had a man i love dearly, i had a house, i had two cats together. i planted my tree there, i buried my cat there. i planted my heart there in the woods and let it cover the ground like ivy.

Brooks, my long-term boyfriend broke up with me. and to tell you how it all went down, and on my 33rd birthday would read so utterly clichΓ© and rife with melodrama that i wish were NOT my life to report. Well – i have entered my Jesus year – he was 33 when he was crucified.

damn if it isn’t always the worst timing, the wrong thing said, the poor choices, the little misunderstandings that just chip away at things, until you can no longer see the good and the way through something or someone. there are things he thinks he needs to do for himself, and sadly – he wants to do them alone.

i met him when i was 25, online and through email. i didn’t even know what he looked like before we started speaking and growing close. he sent me pictures a book and a bottle of wine. he took me places i have never seen. he taught me so much about so many things natural and mechanical. i moved my whole life from Detroit, Michigan to be here with him in Maryland. we went through his Crohn’s disease (which he still endures), dead pets, funerals, vacations, all the things you can imagine, and we weathered my leaving twice while we were building a house to get some sanity and space from living in close quarters with his parents, and then, a monstrously stupid wasteful affair on my part. there are some things a relationship cannot survive, i suppose. people suffer their self-esteem, people stop forgiving, people build walls.

i would like to chalk it up to an early mid-life crisis on his part or humanity’s new short-attention span with love and excitement, and a case for those who don’t know how to commit and invest in people when they have fear of death, fear of confrontation, fear of friendship, fear of settling for the not-quite best sex/lover/relationship/etc. (insert fictional mind meld illusory mental/emotional state here). clearly the compromises he felt he had to make in order to be with me were too great. this is simply it. i just wish it felt better to say to myself and not cry every time i think of his absence. there are not enough pillows on this bed or friends i can talk to that make up for the empty space.

and i will leave it all at that. as he has reminded me it was NOT all goodness and light, though the love and loss of it has changed me profoundly and the memories of how it all began, how many many things we shared as friends, how THAT friendship is perhaps the only salvageable part. there is so much i could write, and i have, but it is largely personal and i will not trouble anyone’s eyes or conscience with it here. i am spilling out over the edges as it is . . . even the camera i shoot with, a gift from him, serves as a reminder.

i am living in Annapolis, Maryland. right downtown in the Historic District. it’s a nice house on the water, i rent it with two male roommates one of whom is Jason. mostly – i have the house to myself as Jason visits his girlfriend Jean quite a bit and works a lot, and Andrew, well he’s a handsome young man of i think 22, and he is gone quite a bit also, for various jet-setting to Chicago and New York, early work hours and socializing. so it’s mostly me and Odin just hanging out at home, purring and snuggling in, trying to get some sleep, eating lightly only for sustenance and hoping to adjust. there is a nice pair of windows in my room on the 3rd floor, my ivy plant is happy here, new leaves have erupted where dead spiny limbs were and i am able to crawl out my window and get onto the slanted roof to a platform area where i can look out across the neighborhood. it’s nice for sunning and watching the people, birds, and gardens.

what i have come to see is that nature continues to frighten and amaze me though i am no longer in my beloved forest . . . where all good elves belong. still i learn things like the will to fight, resilience, the inevitability and impartiality of death and my persistent love for all things great and small.

my last batch of moth eggs collapsed – they never hatched, perhaps not the product of a successful mating, which seems a terrible metaphor for the course of things lately, but no matter. i may still find some other specimens to raise and get interested in.

i watched two blackbirds trounce a mouse with their needled talons on a gravel path as the mouse interrupted their feeding and scavenging. i intervened and they took flight.

i watched a small sparrow fly too low before the eyes of traffic only to be batted pitifully against headlights and fall to the side of the road like a stone.

i see countless butterflies flittering with all of their might to make it across the lanes of whooshing traffic, dashed and left flapping like shutters, tiny cyclone trapdoors on the hot pavement, stuck like confetti fallout after a New Year’s kiss delivered to a perfect stranger.

Eastern Box Turtle peeking out

but i picked up a Painted Box Turtle, burnt ochre shell with starburst splashed and neon orange scales and head, with cherry red eyes. he was walking in the middle of the road, certain to be crushed. he rode on the floor of my passenger seat until i released him into the woods – but not before taking his picture . . .

Eastern Box Turtle

on from turtles and NOT to the rabbit, but the mouse . . . i know – they are rodents and vermin and potentially carry disease and reproduce and ruin food storage and clothes, but i loathe the sticky supposedly non-toxic glue traps that catch mice – or more i should remark they don’t so much “catch” as mangle and rip a creature limb from limb as they try to escape losing fur and feet if they DO manage to escape. i don’t know – i prefer “SNAP!” you’re dead than starvation and thirst and drowning in your own feces and struggle as you get more and more bound and twisted.

so, i am a bad employee – i saved a mouse from one of these grotesque things. i was setting up an adjacent dining room when i thought “eww, i better stash that trap so the guests don’t see it.” and upon picking it up, it stirred wildly and fluttered out of my hand and i screamed a bit. i wondered about what kind of unholy fucking cockroach/insect/mothra/beast might be twitching inside with 60,000 legs and pincers and fangs. i kicked it a bit across the room in the direction of the trash, then finally got brave got down on the ground and looked inside.

it was a tiny grey mouse, stuck with its little nose down, its whiskers bleeding, its mouth stuck open, tail behind it on display, feet tangled awkwardly below it in unnatural positions, stuck fast by its furry side and not escaping but still very much alive. what was i supposed to do? put it in a corner and ignore it (denial), put it out of its misery by bludgeoning it (personal), or worse – throwing it away (neglectful). so i took it to the sink in the nearby bathroom and turned on a small trickle of warm water, which it greedily lapped, working its mouth and blinking up at me. this gave it the energy to start squirming more, but i tried to keep it still so it didn’t rip itself apart.

i began by peeling the tail away and trying to unstuck the feet and head so it could close its mouth. then i went about dampening the trap with water and soap to loosen the glue, tearing off bits and pieces of the trap rather than trying to peel the mouse away by its loose body parts, which i was afraid would damage organs and break legs.

this took a good 10 minutes or so near the end of which the mouse became more excited, realizing it was being helped and was better able to move. once i had it free, its front paw a bit favored, perhaps stiff or injured, it scrambled and spun in a circular track in the sink basin. it nipped me ever so slightly, but grew calm as i scooped it up in a pile of paper towel. it curled into a little crescent, breathed quickly and i cupped it in my hands, cooed at it a bit to be calm, which it did and grew very still as i carried it outside to the huge bush i had seen mice in and out of before.

i put it down in the mulch and it appeared as if that one leg may have been broken, but it looked around and scampered off inside, ducking down into a little hole. somehow – i felt such a deep sympathy for this creature, stuck against its will, wanting to be removed, wanting to move. i can only hope it will heal or at least, die on its own terms.

Two nites ago i was out in the backyard here, a wild tangled overgrowth of hastas and ivy and low hanging branches looking over into the soft lights in my neighbor’s garden. The neighbor is a bed and breakfast called The Charles Inn as we live on Charles Street. it also has the window where i shot this cat photo:

While looking over in the garden with its fountains and stones and wonderful flowers, i saw a little orange flicker – the glow of an eye, something in flight. It was 11 at nite and all i could think was BAT! But no – you wouldn’t believe it – it was a hummingbird of all things . . . at NITE! i thought they went into torpor to keep warm and still in the dark and only flew in the sunlight, but here it was, a ruby-throated hummingbird darting aimlessly about, trying to find its way into the nectar caves. Turns out, i read that they don’t have a sense of smell. But more interesting is their affinity for the color RED . . .

The Ruby Throated Hummingbird is Maryland’s native species. It weighs only a tenth of an ounce and is attracted to nectar supplied by native plants or attentive homeowners. The flowers hummingbirds use for nectar sources have evolved with them. To attract a hummingbird, a flower must be red, bloom in the daytime, be rich in nectar and lack any sort of landing pad thereby eliminating competition from other birds. They like red so much in fact that folks in Louisiana hang lots of red Christmas ribbon, red surveyor’s tape, and other red items around their yards to be sure hummingbirds won’t pass them by. Some believe the hummingbirds fly down pathways (like roads) and have trails of red leading from the road into their house which must be an incredible spectacle!

My nitetime sighting sent me on a journey to discover myths and faerie tales about the hummingbird of which i found a nice handful and all of them Native American . . .

A Mayan legend says the hummingbird is actually the sun in disguise, and he is trying to seduce a beautiful woman, who is the moon.

Another Mayan legend says the first two hummingbirds were created from the small feather scraps left over from the construction of other birds. The god who made them was so pleased he had an elaborate wedding ceremony for them. First butterflies marked out a room, then flower petals fell on the ground to make a carpet; spiders spun webs to make a bridal pathway, then the sun sent down rays which caused the tiny groom to glow with dazzling reds and greens. The wedding guests noticed that whenever he turned away from the sun, he became drab again like the original gray feathers from which he was made.

A third Mayan legend speaks of a hummingbird piercing the tongue of ancient kings. When the blood was poured on sacred scrolls and burned, divine ancestors appeared in the smoke.

There is a legend from the Jatibonicu Taino Tribal Nation of Puerto Rico about a young woman and a young man, who were from rival tribes. Like Romeo and Juliet, they fell in love, precipitating the intense criticism of their family and friends. Nevertheless, the two of them found a way to escape both time and culture. One became a hummingbird and the other a red flower.

To the Chayma people of Trinidad, hummers are dead ancestors, so there is a taboo against harming them. An extinct Caribbean tribe called the Arawacs thought it was Hummingbird who brought tobacco. They called him the Doctor Bird.

Hopi and Zuni legends tell of hummingbirds intervening on behalf of humans, convincing the gods to bring rain. Because of this, people from these tribes often paint hummingbirds on water jars.

There is a legend from Mexico about a Taroscan Indian woman who was taught how to weave beautiful baskets by a grateful hummingbird to whom she had given sugar water during a drought. These baskets are now used in Day of the Dead Festivals.

The Pueblo Indians have hummingbird dances and use hummingbird feathers in rituals to bring rain. Pueblo shamans use hummingbirds as couriers to send gifts to the Great Mother who lives beneath the earth. To many of the Pueblo, the hummingbird is a tobacco bird. In one myth Hummingbird gets smoke from Caterpillar, the guardian of the tobacco plant, which is a nice Alice In Wonderland segue!

Another Pueblo story tells of a demon who is blinded after losing a bet with the sun. In anger he spews out hot lava. The earth catches fire. A hummingbird then saves the beautiful land of people and animals by gathering clouds from the four directions. Hummingbird uses rain from these clouds to put out the flames. This legend says the bright colors on a hummingbird’s throat came after he fled through the rainbow in search of rain clouds.

A Mojave, and my most favorite legend tells of a primordial time when people lived in an underground world of darkness. They send a hummingbird up to look for light. High above them the little bird found a twisted path to the sunlit upper world where people now live.

It is a place i hope to arrive at soon myself . . .

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