Birds give wings to hope

Old sailors assure us that the sun, now at its lowest elevation of the year, will cross the yard-arm of the season as of noon today and continue its voyage across unchartered seas.

Some people never escape the concrete walls of civilization, but others find an association with the more enduring qualities of the world. Perhaps such thinking began during those shadowy years when, in the days of Halcyon, a Greek goddess whose husband, determinedly sailing against her wishes, drowned during a wintery gale. Upon sighting his remains, she jumped off a seawall to miraculously discover she could fly.

In their sympathy, the pitying gods transformed both lovers into the kingfisher birds, then commanded Aeolus, god of the winds, to calm the waves for seven consecutive days of winter solstice, permitting the two to safely brood and fledge their young.

Birds are animals with feathers that the master architect of life, in seeking beauty and variety in his works, created from reptiles, then granted them the ability to fly, successful beyond mortals’ dreams. Can life hold more beauty than bluebird wings flashing in the morning sun, or redbirds in full feather, feasting on scarlet holly berries in new-fallen snow, perhaps a scattering of snowy ibis, their curved gold bill probing the sandy soils?

Poet Robert Service insisted that the exquisite lonesome beauty in the calling of a loon, or of wild geese winging across darkened moonlit skies, remain beyond comparison.

Birds come in about 8,600 species, ranging from the soaring eagle, or vulture, to the hovering dart of hummingbird, red-winged blackbird, innumerable starling to the pelican and deep-sea diving cormorant.

Halcyon days, peaceful heaven-inspired days when all becomes tranquil and calm and bright, signal the ending of another year. A new season awaits, bearing an unfaltering promise that the gates of hope shall remain open as long as our birds continue to fly.