Hard Eyes


There are some things a gray-haired person should not do on a spring morning. Reading Housman’s “Loveliest of Trees,” with its reminder that lost years will not come again, is one of them. While I read the poem gentle rain washed a winter’s accumulation of dust from Chicken Ridge and irrigated the budding lilacs.


Out of on the moraine with the little dog, I did another unwise thing—locked eyes with a Steller jay. Rather than fly to high branch to scold us, the jay settled on a low spruce branch and turned sideways so its eye could bore in on my face. The hard, black marble of the eye reflected no kindness, just scrutiny. Feeling measured and found lacking, I let Aki lead me to the little cashew shaped lake where the glacier seems to rise about a strip of forest. Two mallards and a bufflehead family move slowly down lake from us. But one of the bufflehead young, still in tan and chestnut swung past us. Aki didn’t abuse this trust by charging into the lake. I locked eyes with the young duck and saw defiance, not fear, realized what a poor judge I am of the facial expressions of birds.





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