What an amazing way to start the day; such nourishment for the soul!! This morning I was sitting in my lanai by 6.45am. It was going to be another day full of brilliant sunshine and very low humidity and I was ready for it. I love the subtle yet clear light and the silence of the early morning.
Within moments of being there it was as though someone had pushed a button. For the next 30 minutes I was treated to my own High-Def, surround sound, 3-D, wide screen live show. And through it all the sun rose higher and the light got rosier.
The Hummingbirds came out in full force. Within minutes there were at least four couples buzzing in and out and over the yard. I know they were couples because each set of two sported one ruby-throated male. It seemed as though there were bright red diamonds flashing about the garden.
The couples dived and rose together in perfect unison, twisting this way and that. Suddenly, they would come to an abrupt hovering halt, facing each other. For a few moments they hung quivering in space about six inches apart and then it seemed as though they leaned in to each other in two or three darting movements, as if exchanging quick kisses. Then off they zoomed for some more madly ecstatic flight.
Meanwhile, in the background, at the birdfeeder on the back fence, Mamma and Papa Cardinal were taking turns at having breakfast. The male, in all his glorious scarlet beauty, would eat then hop up onto the fence and stand guard while his mate had her fill. When she flew back into the tree behind the fence, he would go again to the feeder and eat some more. As she flew down again, he resumed his spot on the fence and gallantly awaited until she finished.
While all this was going on, several Titmice were playing at catch-me-if-you-can in and out of the wrought iron work of the old gazebo. I was sure they were just marking time and waiting for the Cardinals to finish feeding. And in fact, as soon as they flew off, the Titmice descended on the feeder and took their turn.
I had one more unexpected treat in store. After the Titmice had finished at the feeder and the Hummingbirds were taking a well-earned rest from their tactical maneuvers, I went inside to make some tea. As I stepped back out into the lanai I noticed a large black bird on the feeder. It was a very “glistening” black, almost like a raven. Its beak was also black.
He was about the size of a Cardinal, but sleeker, slimmer. It was definitely not as large as a crow. I began ruffling the pages of my “Birds Of North America” by Kenn Kaufman but could not find a match. Then suddenly the bird moved around on the feeder and I was looking at his profile. There on the side of his breast where the wing met his body, was a flash of vivid red underscored by a slash of white.
Once again I checked my book and I believe I found my answer. There amongst the Blackbirds was a species called the Red-winged Blackbird. It was obviously a male which still had not completely acquired his full summer plumage, hence the slash of white. Although the book indicated that these are “abundant and familiar” birds throughout Northern America, this was the first time I had seen one.
By the time my new visitor had left the feeder, everyone else had retired to the trees or moved on to greener pastures. With the exception of a couple of butterflies who went their merry way, dancing from bloom to bloom. What a wonderful gift God has given us with His creation and what a blessing to have so much of it in my small patch of the world.
Toby stopped in his tracks. There, in the middle of the path, lay a shining, gold ring. Toby reached down to pick it up and gasped. A huge diamond sparkled up at him.
“Hey Toby, wait up for me,” shouted a familiar voice behind him.
Toby spun around and forced a smile for his friend Matt. His fingers closed tightly over the ring and he quickly stuffed it down into his pocket.
“What’s wrong Toby?” asked Matt staring intently at Toby’s face.
Toby’s brain was working at warp speed. He needed time to think, time to decide what to do. He looked at the ground and kicked at a stone.
“Nothing,” he replied. “Didn’t want to get up this morning. We’d better hurry or we’ll be late for school.
Toby and Matt had been friends since starting first grade. They had stood on opposite sides of the classroom, two little strangers pulled together by one thing they had in common – bright red hair! They had been inseparable since then.
Toby wanted to tell Matt about the ring, but something stopped him. Later he sat in math class and his fingers touched the smooth metal circle in his pocket. Then they rubbed over the cut surface of the diamond. He knew the ring had to be worth a lot of money.
He knew his mother really wanted an electric sewing machine, and his father had just said the other day how much easier it would be to cut the grass with an electric mower. And Toby himself really wanted that blue and silver mountain bike in the store over on Oak Street……..
“Toby Dawson, perhaps you can tell me what the answer is,” said the teacher.
“I, er…… uhm, I’m sorry Ma’am, but I didn’t hear the question,” stammered Toby. Matt grinned and winked at him. Toby immediately felt guilty about keeping his secret from Matt.
After that Toby forced himself to keep his mind on his work. When the lunch bell rang he grabbed his lunch and raced to the door. He didn’t want to face Matt because he wasn’t sure what to tell him.
Toby went around the back of the school to eat and to think about the ring. As he sat on an empty crate and chewed his sandwich, he heard a male voice above his head.
“I don’t know what to do. The ring was in my pocket so I could take it to the jeweler’s to be cleaned. It must have fallen out, and my wife is going to be so upset. Her father left it to me when he died last year.” The voice sounded desperate.
“Hey Toby!” shouted Matt as he came round the corner. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere. What’s up?”
Toby’s heart felt as heavy as lead. What was happening to him? Here he was keeping secrets from his best friend and hiding from him too. Worse yet, he was a thief!
Toby sat bolt upright. Suddenly, he knew exactly what he needed to do. He glanced quickly at Matt who was standing there with a frown on his face. He decided to tell him everything.
“Matt, I’m sorry I’ve been acting so weird this morning. I had to sort some stuff out in my head. I thought I could do it best on my own. Now I think I’d like your help.”
Toby told Matt all about the ring, and he even confessed that he had been tempted to sell it. Then he showed his friend the ring.
“Wow!” said Matt, his eyes getting big. “You sure could buy lots of nice things with that.” Then, looking puzzled, he said, “But how would you sell it? What would happen if you got caught?”
Toby nodded. “I think I knew all along that I couldn’t keep it or sell it. I guess I needed to hear it from someone else. So, what do you think I should do?”
“Just take it to the principal and tell him you found it,” replied Matt. “Come on, I’ll go with you.”
Toby felt a load lift off his shoulders. The ring may have been a great treasure, but having a friend like Matt was worth a lot more.
I have lived for about thirty years in Italy. The very first visit to that country was to Genoa in December 1963. All I can say is that when I deplaned and my feet touched the tarmac, my soul came home.
I eventually came to live in Italy in 1969. My first home was in a place called Santa Margherita di Pula located in the southern region of the island of Sardinia. This island captured my heart. The sea is turquoise, the beaches are pristine, the rocks are unbelievable, the people are delightful, and the food is incredibly good.
The last four and a half years of my time in Sardinia were spent on the island of La Maddalena. If Sardinia was said to be the crown of Italy, La Maddalena would be the diamond sparkling in that crown. In my post Poetry- Sharing My Love of Sardinia I already described this beautiful island and shared one poem that I wrote in nostalgia after I left. Here is another poem that I wrote during the course of a revisit.
Hot air hanging languidly in a shimmering haze.
Warm brown bodies proffered to the sun,
Splayed on molten sand.
Still waters reflecting glistening gems
Of cool coral edged with mother-of-pearl
Mirrored under translucent turquoise.
Oh island of my heart, my soul, my mind,
Resplendent as a queen you proudly lie
Royally robed in colors warm and bright.
Your elegant form bedecked with dazzling jewels
Enchanting all who dare to gaze upon you,
By nature so generously endowed.
In sharp contrast is the city of Naples. I returned to live in Italy after spending five years back in the UK, and by God-incidence I ended up in Naples. Naples is a wild and chaotic city that lives by its own rules, as do the Neapolitans! It is a city of wide contradictions and immense fascination. There is a saying that goes, “See Naples and die”, meaning that nothing counts after experiencing Naples.
In my previous post Poetry- The Urchin From Naples, I gave some personal insights into this crazy and wonderful city as well as sharing a poem that I wrote before I ever physically visited there. The following poem describes how I felt about it after being there just one week. Naples had “grabbed me by the throat” (this is what the locals say about the effect their city has on some people!l).
Faded ochre, dirty rose,
Clothed in webs of ivy green
Spattered with dust.
Crooked cracks, crusted crannies
Creeping in all directions
On ancient walls.
In bright profusion.
In loud confusion.
City of love and painted passion,
Full of life and sight and sound,
City of song and laughter.
The dust may cling and spread around,
Crimes may take place each day, all day,
But you are throbbing, alive, and gay.
You are a heartbeat unto yourself.
And as you spawn your hopes, your fears
Into your maddening noises streets