When the snow looks like blood

Harry Drabik

You know the time of year when the snow beneath the mountain ash looks like a massacre site for hundreds of pigeons. In the harsh of winter birds mob the mountain ash for a messy feast the birds saved for a time when calories would be much in need to get them through the lean times now and to come. In local folk lore it used to be said bird piggishness on mountain ash berries was so they’d get drunk on the fermented berries. This seemed plausible and could be true, but I can’t recall ever seeing an inebriate member of the tweet clans. Birds often fly into windows (a one bird one-time thing for the most part), but that’s more bad judgement and ill luck than the effect of a booze berry buzz. I’d suppose the wildlife biologists (probable scotch drinkers) have a good handle on this bird behavior and could tell us the exact nutritional value served by dry on the tree ash berry serves the avian group in this season. I’m not knowledgeable on any of that, but I know damn sure it’s mid-January when the snow under the ash looks a bloody carnage.

A new sign from the human wildlife is something I never observed before, but I have to say it is an impressive and chilling site to see a grown person fight tears and in some cases blubber like their pet pup died at the mention of Inauguration Day. A case of dashed hopes is apparently more painful than the shingles. Anyone ever having measles has the shingles lurking dormant in them until something aggravates the bug and sets it off. Dashed hopes, I suspect, come in their worst form when brought on and aggravated by a classic case of Hope Springs Eternal. The Green Party did that, more than less, with a campaign more popular than their political party. But when it came to a Hail Mary the Green religion didn’t have the theological flight to get airborne to save the political day. For those sore afflicted by inauguration sorrow it will be grim, sad, agony every time a particular five letter name not beginning in O is mentioned. The grief process is long and uphill. I rather wish the Hail Mary effort by the Greens would have worked to provide relief from four years of tear and anguish floods. Course, then the other side would be doing it so there’s really no cure except calm and sensibility Americans seem to lose sight of whenever they hear a scheme to save the world starting with the Middle East.

Blood red snow and the inauguration seemed to go together this week. I’m not always so lucky having a celestial alignment of events good as that combo. That pair seem a timely fit I could talk of in a way that wasn’t too mean or cruel, at least toward birds. For me that’s a start as I’m not infrequently told to lighten up and not be so preachy or negative. Most often this means the person saying this wants me to shut up and or agree with their position; agreement being the favored option. It’s not an easy thing, you know, being nicely positive about ignorance or banal expression, however heartfelt. Well, I’m working on it. The other day I attempted (with limited result) a form of soothing observation about a brusquely opinionated person who deserves almost any name you’d hurl at them. But I was restrained. I was nice. I smiled with the best mock sincerity in me and said cheerily that the individual was an impressive example of an anal vent. Well, they are, and happily with less odor. But it does bother me to have used four words where one would do. Economy is important in expression. But sometimes a person has to yield to a better angle of judgment. The risk is that others won’t get the message and will only become confused, or more confused as the case may have it. This occurred recently when the local weekly paper used the word plethora. There’s not a scrap of local coloring in that word. Several are said to have refused further subscription if the paper was turning high faultin’. Another segment held that plethora was part of the anatomy more than less sexual but not at all erotic. It’s interesting to encounter what people think.

What people think and how we respond to others’ thoughts is not a new concern. Miss Emily Dickinson, an American poet on the short list of those I honor most, wrote “Much Madness is Divinest Sense.” On one level the poem is about the majority and those who dissent. You should do this poem on your own and see for yourself, but I’ve always admired the economical end lines about those who demure being straightway handled with a chain. In a different sense I borrow and use the idea of some things needing to be handled with (on) a chain. A sturdy chain and not a stretchy or easily cut rope is what is needed for handling some emotional topics. It’s easier and often more appealing to let an emotion run wild, but chains of self-restraint are worth cultivating as a balance for emotional leaps. A flight of emotion can be wondrous, but the greatest leap still begins with a fixed jump off point and will come down on an equally solid landing area. All the things we do as humans are mixes of fancy and practicality or what others might term faith and the world. Much Madness is Divinest Sense, and I feel sorrow for those who look at Inauguration Day with set conclusions that block opportunities and perceptions from being seen AND felt. Much Madness is to find joy where you’re told to see none. Much Madness is demure knowing others will straightway hold you mad and seek to chain you to their bleak and properly correct conclusions. Much Madness is applying chains and casting them off. Much Madness is life itself.