Just before his death in 2001, my grandfather told me that he wished he could visit Rattray Marsh one more time. I thought of him this morning as I walked about here though icy temperatures and a mostly still frozen marsh kept bird numbers low.
We were walking the Humber Trail and watching the mallards from the walking bridge that crosses the Humber when we saw this fellow swim across the Humber. We didn’t know that skunks could swim. The mallards were a bit aggressive towards him until he turned around and started after them, at which time the mallards decided not to take him on. Being city dwellers, we didn’t know skunks could swim.
Rain-glaze on snow. Mud and ice and snow.
Coyotes feed themselves on gaunt dreams of spring. Then
what comes slowly suddenly he sees.
Light hovers longer in the southern sky.
Brooks uncover themselves. Alders redden.
Grosbeaks’ beaks turn green. Chickadee finds the song
he lost last November, and blue jay abandons
argument and gluttony. He cranes his neck,
bobs his mitered head; he bounces on a naked branch
But, like all winter’s keepers
he speaks his dream before
he sees the fact.
Did you hear a phoebe?
And he out again and walking on the earth,
in the air, in the sun, ankle deep in mud. – David Budbill (1940-2016)