Our kitchen patio is shaded by a Japanese Dogwood tree and in the Fall, this tree unloads its berries with a vengeance:
So far, I haven’t had one plop into my morning cup of tea, but at this rate of bombardment I think it’s inevitable. We have to sweep the patio twice a day to clear a path through the mast, and to stay ahead of the rate of rot (these berries are very squishy, and on a warm day they ferment quickly).
If Bibs and I were foragers, we’d make wine out of this stuff. But we don’t, because there’s a rather good wine shop a short walk away and I need the exercise.
I wrote about the Japanese Dogwood in my book Gardens of Awe and Folly . . .
. . . because of an ancient horticultural connection between the northeastern United States and the Land of the Rising Sun and you know me, I likes a good horticultural yarn. (See: page 90 on why the woods of Long Island are no different in make-up, mood, and spirit than any forest on Honshu).
For pre-historical reasons, we here in the northeast states of America share a surprising number of plant species with Japan, one of them being the Dogwood tree. Our native American Dogwood trees have cute little berries. . .
. . . so their seeds can serve as food, to be eaten and
pooped out distributed by smallish birds such as this Cedar Wax Wing:
On the other side of the world, after millions of years of evolving in their own way in Japan, the Dogwood tree’s seeds come packaged inside fat, juicy morsels of fruit . . .
. . . the better to serve as food for its
poopers seed distributors, which is not a bird but a mammal, which we know as the incredibly cute Snow Monkey:
The thing is, the Dogwood tree got to Japan a couple of hundred million years ago, but the Snow Monkey only arrived from Korea about half a million years ago. That’s how smart nature is.
Ah, nature, the passing of the eons and the passing of the seasons. I am writing this on the Hebrew New Year, the Rosh ha Shena, first day of 5778. Also, today is the Last Day of Summer 2017.
How I Spent My Summer
For longtime Dear Readers, it is not news that I adore Blue Jays.
For Blue Jays, Summer on Long Island means Feather Molting Time, which to me means Blue Jay Feather Harvesting Time. I am all about Blue Jay feathers. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when I find a Blue Jay feather. It’s like a miracle. Collecting Blue Jay feathers is what you call an “obsession” with me.
Last Summer (in the wretched 2016) I had one request of the universe: Let me find 50 Blue Jay feathers. This Summer (of the same politically wretched 2017) was very different. This Summer I was all, like, Whatever. I decided to let the universe send me whatever Blue Jay feathers it felt like throwing my way. (The same rule applied: I only collected the Blue Jay feathers that I found on my own acre of Earth. That is, in my front or back yards.)
It was an experiment: Do our thoughts and intentions really manifest in the physical world?
For all of Summer 2016 I made it a point to be very active in my Blue Jay feather harvesting, and I kept a tally of each time and place where my intention of finding 50 Blue Jay feathers was made manifest.
In an average year, I find 9 Blue Jay feathers. By the end of the Summer of 2016 I had found 30 Blue Jay feathers.
Maybe the following photographs will show you why finding a Blue Jay feather is something magical.
Nature, as you’ve probably noticed, is mostly green. So it’s a jolt to peer into the weeds and see something electric blue:
It’s a Blue Jay feather!
Look closely at this photo of clover:
It’s a Blue Jay feather!
Here’s an instance when I was about to put the seat cushion onto my Adirondack chair . . .
. . . and the universe offered me a Blue Jay feather!
I don’t know how I was able to perceive anything out of the ordinary in this patch of grass. . .
. . .but there it was! A little Blue Jay feather!
Yes, I made it a ritual to walk slowly across the property, eyes focused on the earth . . .
. . . or else I would never have seen this Blue Jay feather!
Out on the edge of the back yard, near a baby Spruce tree that we planted as a seed . . .
. . . some kindly bird let me a Blue Jay feather!
Sometimes, it seemed as if the universe was delivering Blue Jay feathers to me personally, like this one on the kitchen patio:
Blue Jay feather!
You don’t have to look very hard when it’s right in front of your eyes in the driveway:
A Blue Jay feather!
This one was ridiculously easy. Top Cat and I were having breakfast on the kitchen patio and I got up to fetch more toast, and voila! A Blue Jay feather!
I help it up against Top Cat’s denim shirt. This is a true blue Blue Jay feather!
That one, above, is also a center tail feather, which is my favorite of all Blue Jay feathers, so I kept hoping I’d find another one. Well, what do you know: in the same place where I had already found a tail feather (first photo above). . .
I found another center tail feather! Blue Jay feather strikes twice!
Lastly, this is my favorite Blue Jay feather find of the Summer. It was, once again, on my driveway:
The camera can’t show how, to a brain attuned to the heart-stopping wonderfulness of the hues of a Blue Jay feather, this little thing glowed like a big, fat, full Blue Moon:
It’s a Blue Jay feather!!
I hope you’re not sick of Blue Jay feathers yet. Because I have to announce the results of my laissez-faire Summer of 2017 Bue Jay feather Harvest;
And here it is:
So, it was a pretty goodyear even though I had disengaged myself from “the process”. But, it’s less than half what I got in the 30-feather Summer of 2016, when I was mindful.
Thank you, Universe. I can tell that You always want me to be happy, but you appreciate it a teeny bit more when I met you halfway.
And that’s what Top Cat and I wish for you all, Dear Readers, as we toast the New Year:
Let the Universe Give You Its Gifts.