Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Kiss of the Bat

My mom used to say, "Creatures are talking to us all of the time. Are we listening?"

I listen. Last night, sitting on our dock as night settled in, there was no sound. Then the hoarse rasp of an anhinga. That is, a snakebird. Long undulant neck, long sharp beak. She nests in our paperwood trees and you can see her black sleek form against the whiter trunks. Silence.

Then the whirr of wings and something light and furry, something unknown lands on my left cheek. I feel a touch of softness. Then more whirr, and it -- whatever it is -- is gone. "What was that?"

Lorry says, "It was the largest moth I've ever seen." I'd seen it too, very briefly, and thought it was a hummingbird. But it was, in reality, the moth they call Bat in Jamaica. It kissed my cheek and hummed away into the night. I remembered Frost's line: "For once, then, something."

Last spring I mentioned a long black snake sliding up to where I sat on the dock. It kept coming. I thought it would stop. It didn't. It came right up to my big toe and sort of tasted it with its forked tongue. I got a good tickly feeling. And remembered my Navajo friend Jay telling me that he'd seen medicine men "toe herding rattlesnakes."

Once in New Mexico I was awakened by a magpie. I thought I was dreaming but when I opened my eyes there was a large black and white bird on my chest. For some reason I thought it was a she, and when I was awake enough to sit up, I did, and she flew to the open window. I followed her outside. She flew from juniper to juniper. Finally I came to the place where she wanted me to see something. Her nest. The wind had blown it down and her nestlings were scattered about on the juniper and pinon needles. I got my ladder and put the nest and the nestlings into the tree they had fallen from.

That is my story. Listen to all great and small. Believe your dreams. Feel more, talk less. Love everything, even pain, sorrow, bewilderment. Move along with your life, have no grudges. Above all, be kind and think of others instead of yourself.


  1. Thanks, Gerry. You bring magic to everything you touch and gave us a heart opening blessing to guide us into the New Year.