No Man is an Island, and Sometimes Going to an Island is a Good Reminder

photoWe had this adventure, my man and I. Went to an island. A lovely one called Puerto Rico. We spent a week on that beautiful piece of Caribbean land and enjoyed the break from our everyday Real Life, the immersion in nature and its marvelous native birds and insects and flora and the wash of its rolling waves on luxuriant green shores.

The quiet was exceedingly welcome.

But our reason for the trip wasn’t isolation and retreat. We went for the wedding of dear friends. And the wedding of a Puerto Rican woman with a big, loving family and a lot of friends to a North American man bringing his own contingent of supporters from Canada and the US is not a place to go and lie low with the covers pulled up over one’s head.

As if it weren’t already too warm and humid to be curled up under a duvet.

So we had the fantastic experience of being drawn into this jolly, joyous gathering and treated like more members of the extended family, and along with our enjoyment of being on that wonderful island, we had the perfect reminder of what’s so great about being surrounded by dear and tremendous people and how the pleasures of the place, the travel, the newness and beauties not previously experienced, all are enhanced so richly by the good company.

It’s why I spend so much time in the good company of my blogging and blog-reading companions, of course, but as always, it takes a change of scenery to remind me of what I should already know. It’s good to be home, and all the more so when I’ve been away. Here, I am once again awash in a sea of friends and loved ones, and I am doubly glad.

Vulture Culture

Bird-watching is easy in countryside where there’s a lot of flat land, a lot of sky and plenty of clumps of brush or trees here and there for roosting and cover. Our recent expedition to Texas Hill Country was a great occasion for it, especially since the fences, power poles and trees that line freeways are both the perfect lookout points and display pedestals for local hawks and grackles and doves. Most distinctively regional among those winged wonders catching my eye as we drove down and back were the marvelous black vultures.

I love watching them, from the graceful, majestic soaring swoops and loops they draw across the broad planes of the sky to their awkward huddling in flocks on the massive transformer towers, to those rare and delightful closeups where I can get a better look at their funny mix of magnificent feathered eagle-like bodies with those wrinkly, wizened looking little heads and their bold hooked beaks. The sudden whuff-whuff as a large bird, unseen above my head on its light-pole perch, dove over me in a low arc to switch poles was like being fanned by the wing of a passing angel the other day. Clearly my intrusion on its territory wasn’t so distressing to the buzzard either, as he opted to land on the next post over and then sat surveying our party placidly even when my husband and I came and stood directly below to gaze on the magnificent creature. He felt exceedingly well fitted for the place, letting the cold drafts ruffle his feathers just a little as he sat gazing out at Canyon Lake under the lowering skies of the first of the year.

I call that a very good Texas omen.digital painting from a photo

Stratospheric Eventualities

Calm and measureless heights of azure Texas sky

Rise streaked with silent foaming white,

The broad hot blue patterned with these delicate

Ambling clouds that stretch to cover great distance at

A leisurely, attenuated speed, always slipping noiselessly

Across branch-tops, over the brazen sun, and into

The realms of seeming outer space, asleep

Though it should be at lazy midday
digital painting from a photoSuddenly this easy traffic is crossed

By a soaring, circling pair of

Dark metallic wings, the steely black of one

Great vulture passing through to catch

The updrafts and to cycle down, surveying

His kingdom plat by plat—he’s joined, soon enough,

By would-be kings, the other buzzard princes of

The wide blue air, who comb the same

Field of clouds with their own

Gunmetal-dark brace of wings
digital painting from a photoAnd after a time, these too are scattered abroad at the dash

Of two, then three, sharp triangles of louder, faster, sterner steel,

As fighter jets flash by in succession,

Pull together into a tight

Formation from their first sharp linear slash, and make

A single force with which they will unzip

The sometime quiet of that great wide skydigital painting from a photo