I saw them a week ago
as we drove through Kansas,
long waves of Red-Winged Blackbirds flying
over fields of sorghum.
But I thrilled
yesterday morning
when I heard them,
the first time this autumn,
in the trees between
the farmhouse and the hermitage.
How can the simple, sweet, chippy sound
of a mass of Red-Winged Blackbirds
in the treetops
swell the heart?
It’s a sound familiar.
It’s the sound of community
It’s a sound of winter.
It’s a sound of home,
and for a moment or two,
my heart ached,
for I was packing the car
for a several-day stay
in the city.


For two days
I’d watched three turkey vultures
terribly close to the chickens and guineas,
blithely making their way around the farm,
focused on grabbing seeds from grass
and pecking bugs out of the soil. One turkey
vulture was perched atop the Hackberry tree
at the back door of the farmhouse,
where chickens were busy foraging
in the wildlife plot.
One turkey vulture was atop a power pole
in the goat pen,
where a Cochin rooster spends much of his day.
Both vultures lifted those wide black wings
into the air
when I came near.
And then I saw at least 30 of them,
above the southwest pasture,
circling in the sky,
slowly moving south. I hoped
that as I drove away
those two didn’t return
to snag a snack for the road.

My angst then
at leaving the farm
with so much aerial action—
two Red-Tailed Hawks
have returned this week as well.
I hope they focus on mice
instead of chickens and guineas—
abated somewhat
when I met up with a city friend,
a city friend who lives in a busy
part of the city, and she
described the group of buzzards
above her house. Besides the buzzards
on the wing,
she’s been watching Monarchs
and those yellow butterflies
in her beautiful garden, enjoying
them before they flutter their way
to Mexico.

It’s heart-swelling season,
in country
and city.