Late April 2015
Some ‘thing’ cries out again and again. It is a haunting, almost terrifying, lament. Or, am I dreaming? Yet, the dream feels real and unending. The veil between the rational world of reality and the imaginative world of illusion is very thin. I wake and realize there is, indeed, a raw, painful wail coming from the woodlands outside my apartment. I sit and listen, trying to discern the nature of the sound. Is it an animal in great distress, a mating call, or a requiem for the dead? Whatever it is Abbey jumps on to the windowsill facing the source of the mournful cry. Placing my head close to hers, believing Abbey’s feline instincts located the mystery, I look out but see nothing; yet the sound is eerily close. I finally stop searching the forest floor for movement and look up through the still-bare trees where a full moon shines its glaring presence through leafless limbs. Without preamble on this calm, cold night, the wind suddenly whips up a fury, transforming slender tree limbs and branches into a balletic flow of night dancers. The wailing stops. The experience is mysterious as well as unearthly: a full moon with nightime wind dancers and an unknown being that cries out a requiem before dark becomes light.
This event woke me earlier than usual, so I fed Abbey while brewing my mug of Scottish breakfast tea. I sat listening for the sound of the criatura. None occurred other than my morning birds, already singing before dawn’s light makes her entrance. With the tea finished and Abbey settled into her morning nap, I gathered up my camera and a warm jacket to take my walk. Winter lingered and I wondered what I might discover in the barren landscape. What we see and do not see in winter and early spring, this interval of contraction and hibernation, is Nature’s framework for the living presences that will be reborn — in their rightful time.
I headed towards the Hudson River. We have a wonderful riverfront in our small village and it never disappoints. The shoreline across from my side looked bereft of life; I thought how some might find the absence of color rather bleak. I know this shoreline and its trees well, for we are old friends. In the moments while I set up my image, I recalled this shorline’s continuing cycles of death, rebirth, and life. I framed and steadied by hand-held camera for the shot. There was beauty in the tranquil, arresting scene: what needs to be here now in order for the soft hues of summer and the explosion of autumnal color to “become.” I was enamored with this unadorned, monochromatic landscape: Nature’s blueprint revealed its soul.
More images emerged as I observed and listened. The abundant birdsong from doves, robins, and crows among many other feathered species were in an uproar. I believe they sensed an impending storm for boundless, darkening cloud formations seemed to extend into infinity as the birds flew to their hidden, safe harbors. The River Walkway, with its iron railing and one of my most-loved weeping willow trees, presented a mere hint of spring about to bloom.
(Note: Upon my return two days later, the willow had morphed into an extravaganza of a bright new green seen only in spring. Her tender leaves were fully open; now cascading down her long, graceful branches. How glorious. How sacred too.)
There is a large, beautiful village home that overlooks The River, and it is a house of many gardens. While it is vacant most of the time, it is well cared for. Since it was currently unoccupied, I decided to look for flowers that may have begun to bloom. I was taken by surprise, though, by this stunning black and white feline. He walked up to me with considerable poise; then sat on the back porch steps. I discovered days later, that his name is Oberon … King of the Faeries, according to myth, and consort so Titania in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Oberon, with a discerning eye, looked at my camera, then me: Of course you will photograph me. That’s why I’m here. Use your camera woman! And so I did.
The house’s gardens revealed spring’s first official offerings in the scent of a grand magnolia tree and her lush, sensuous blossoms; a butter-yellow daffodil; one white daffodil with a hint of apricot at her center; and brazenly colored tulips. These new flowers and blossoms were absolute affirmations of the cycles of life, for just weeks before they lay dormant under brown earth and within barren tree limbs.
The walk was splendid and productive too. When I entered the apartment, Abbey was at the door to greet me. I opened the windows just enough so I could hear more of the birds that are as much my companions as is Abbey. I brewed another cup of tea, but with a furrowed brow: I was still disturbed by the requiem cry of the night. I finally sat with my tea while Abbey settled on my lap, lending me the warmth of her body, and her soothing, reassuring purr. Is there anything better than that?
The Book of Abbey — May 15, 2015
Mom was right about a requiem cry that absolutely, positively raised my hackles! I knew it was an animal because I’m an animal, a feline no less, and I’m supposed to know these things. Well, I won’t spend more time on it other than to confirm that I too heard the lament and, for reasons unknown to me, felt a deep sadness.
Mom wanted to write about death and rebirth — Nature and its cycles. I’m intrigued with these concepts, but she’s deceived herself and you too just a little in this Journal entry.
Here’s the scoop: My feline soul sister, Lily, was put down almost a year and a half ago. Her bones, now ashes, are contained in this small, bejeweled butterfly that sits at the feet of our family Buddha.
Mom performs a morning ritual, blessing our home, me, Lily, others, and now Charlie. Who is Charlie you might ask? Charlie was Mom’s dog for eleven years until darkness and illness entered her life. She could hardly take care of herself, and her sweet Charlie became ill and lonely due to Mom’s absence. It’s a long story and I’m not the one to tell it. BUT, two Angels came into Mom’s life and adopted Charlie. They became good friends and Mom promised Charlie and his new Angel-Moms that she wanted to be there when it was The Time for Charlie to leave this life.
Well, he took his time: the Angel-Moms filled his life with love and an abundance of companionship, not only from them but from their friends too. Charlie eventually became blind, deaf, and could hardly walk in his final years, but soldiered through until it truly was The Time. Oh my, the tears flowed as Mom told the story. She cried into my fur as I licked her hands and fingertips with my sandy tongue to comfort her. The two Angel-Moms, my Mom, and a compassionate vet held and stroked Charlie as his heart beat its last beat. He was seventeen years old, well loved, and cherished by so many. The Angel-Moms and Mom agreed that she would take his ashes, for she knows a beautiful place where she says even God comes to rest. I felt it only appropriate to say my prayer for Charlie, the Angel-Moms, and my Mom.
I have to be honest and tell you that I believe this Journal entry was influenced by Mom’s recent mourning for Charlie and her remembrances of a sweet kitty that had no chance of surviving. Even so, it changes nothing of what Mom has written, for it’s her truth and that comes from her heart.
Now, to sum up: I want to say life is grand. The windows are open, I have much to observe every single day, plenty of food, and my fur is fluffy and shiny. I am one happy kitty.
Until next time,
The mournful cry from the unknown criatura returned two more times until the moon began to wane. Each time I woke but no longer got out of bed to search for it. I have only Abbey, who sought it out the first night, to assure me that it was not an illusion. No one else in my building heard the cry; it remains a mystery.
I know this: A rare occurrence unfolded during a cold, late-April full moon outside my bedroom window. I believe that whatever the criatura was with its piercing cry, it was performing a requiem for the dead. And, where there is death there is rebirth at some point and some place — in its rightful time.
Thank you all who faithfully read and comment on my Photo-Journal Chronicles. I love hearing from you and wish you happiness and peace …