A visual symphony, and a month to be savored

Sat, 01/31/2015 - 9:15am


     It was a visual symphony. The light came up slowly and the stage was revealed:  a twisted bony armature of grey. The trunk, smooth and substantial, gave way to branches like arms with elbows and wrists, and then to a halo of twigged filigree. My old, and alas, declining, shad tree reappears each morning, as a grey on grey silhouette. Then, you discern the subtle and soft movement of song sparrows: low and center stage. Ahhh, they are like the first movement of flannel clarinets: one moment only the stage, and then, in the next moment, a building of soft power. From where did they come? One, two, three, … six? – no, just four. Now, there are at least seven – or maybe just the same first three. They are the woodwinds, providing depth and a baseline for the performance.

     Lighter notes are added: airy and flittery piccolos of goldfinch and a Carolina wren flute, together they add the promise of excitement.

     An unseen flourishing baton builds a cacophony of activity. To the goldfinch and song sparrows the percussive chickadees add staccato to the scene. This visual symphony is coalesced into a rich and resonate movement by the cello trio of mourning doves.

     Abruptly, the orchestra turns operatic, when the set is cleared by the villainous appearance of a Coopers hawk, swooping across the stage.

     As the avian thespians resume their places, the choreography re-sets. Then, each in their time, the beauty of the stage is punctuated by the specialty ensembles. The drama of a cardinal French horn appears, flourishes, and then – impossibly – fades. It is out performed by the downy woodpecker’s xylophonic syncopation, which, in turn, is overtaken by a cymbal-crashing crescendo of blue jays displacing seed and performer alike.

     As the house lights, of full morning, come up, the frenetic beat gives way to a quiet last movement: a duo of white-throated sparrows. They move among the scattered seed, and are a peaceful hum against the curtain of snow falling on a pewter grey pond, turning ruff edges, glassine white.

       Although the ocean view in February can be cold and harsh, beauty and evidence of a building warmer season is to be found embedded in each week. The first week of February sets the stage for discerning the advent of spring with natural facts and ancient lore. On February 1st sunrise (6:57a.m.) will be before 7a.m., at last, and sunset (5:01p.m.) will be after 5p.m. And, of course, this promise of longer daylight has been cheered with celebrations of Ground Hog Day and Candlemas for ages.

In February look for signs of budding new life: an early woodcock may call, or mating barn owls may cavort. And, what will be the first new blossom of the year? Each year, full winter is celebrated in the yard by the whimsically beautiful, and fragrant, first blooms of witch hazel.

February is a month to be savored; it is the cordial of winter.

     Join the Ocean View Foundation as it savors the symphony and cordials of February, with the following activities and “earthmarks":

Feb. 3 - Full snow moon,

Feb. 10 – Crazy-as-a-Coot Bird Walk, 8a.m.,

Feb. 18 - Perigee new moon with attendant super tides,

Feb. 19 – Chinese New Year of the goat,

Feb. 24 - Film & Soup Feb., 6:30p.m. at the Island Free Library,

Feb. 25 – Crazy-as-a-Coot Bird Walk, 8a.m.,

Feb. 26 - Feb. Vacation Day Trip to the Pequot Museum,