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In November…birds

“In November, some birds move away and some birds stay. The air is full of good-byes and well-wishes. The birds who are leaving look very serious. No silly spring chirping now. They have long journeys and must watch where they are going. The staying birds are serious, too, for cold times lie ahead. Hard times. All berries will be treasures.”
― Cynthia Rylant, In November

When on a Summer’s Morn

WHEN ON A SUMMER’S MORN

By William Henry Davies

.

When on a summer’s morn I wake,
And open my two eyes,
Out to the clear, born-singing rills
My bird-like spirit flies.

To hear the Blackbird, Cuckoo, Thrush,
Or any bird in song;
And common leaves that hum all day
Without a throat or tongue.

And when Time strikes the hour for sleep,
Back in my room alone,
My heart has many a sweet bird’s song —
And one that’s all my own.

Perseverance

PERSEVERANCE

By R.S.S. Andros

 

         A swallow in the spring

Came to our granary, and ‘neath the eaves

Essayed to make a nest, and there did bring

         Wet earth and straw and leaves.

 

         Day after day she toiled

With patient art, but ere her work was crowned,

Some sad mishap the tiny fabric spoiled,

         And dashed it to the ground.

 

         She found the ruin wrought,

But not cast down, forth from the place she flew,

And with her mate fresh earth and grasses brought

         And built her nest anew.

 

         But scarcely had she placed

The last soft feather on its ample floor,

When wicked hand, or chance, again laid waste

         And wrought the ruin o’er.

 

         But still her heart she kept,

And toiled again, — and last night, hearing calls,

I looked, — and lo!  three little swallows slept

         Within the earth-made walls.

 

         What truth is here, O man!

Hath hope been smitten in its early dawn?

Have clouds o’ercast thy purpose, trust, or plan?

         Have faith, and struggle on!

Laundromat art in London

We also visited London during our vacation.  Mid-way through the trip I found myself needing to wash a load of clothes so I went to a nearby laundromat.  When I entered the laundromat I was surprised and delighted to find original artwork on the wall featuring chickens and ducks, which included instructions for how to use the washers and driers.  Very whimsical and also quite clever.  Art is everywhere, you just have to look for it.  Here are some pictures of the artwork.

Sort out clothes, separate colours from whites

Sort out clothes, separate colours from whites

Shut door firmly

Shut door firmly

Add soap powder in A and B, fabric conditioner in C

Add soap powder in A and B, fabric conditioner in C

Select programme

Select programme

Insert money to start machine

Insert money to start machine

Remove clothes when operating light turns off

Remove clothes when operating light turns off

Put in drier

Put in drier

Ducks

DUCKS

By F.W. Harvey

I.

From troubles of the world
I turn to ducks,
Beautiful comical things
Sleeping or curled
Their heads beneath white wings
By water cool,
Or finding curious things
To eat in various mucks
Beneath the pool,
Tails uppermost, or waddling
Sailor-like on the shores
Of ponds, or paddling
– Left! Right! – with fanlike feet
Which are for steady oars
When they (white galleys) float
Each bird a boat
Rippling at will the sweet
Wide waterway…
When night is fallen you creep
Upstairs, but drakes and dillies
Nest with pale water-stars,
Moonbeams and shadow bars,
And water-lilies:
Fearful too much to sleep
Since they’ve no locks
To click against the teeth
Of weasel and fox.
And warm beneath
Are eggs of cloudy green
Whence hungry rats and lean
Would stealthily suck
New life, but for the mien
The bold ferocious mien
Of the mother-duck.

II.

Yes, ducks are valiant things
On nests of twigs and straws,
And ducks are soothy things
And lovely on the lake
When that the sunlight draws
Thereon their pictures dim
In colours cool.
And when beneath the pool
They dabble, and when they swim
And make their rippling rings,
0 ducks are beautiful things!
But ducks are comical things:-
As comical as you.
Quack!
They waddle round, they do.
They eat all sorts of things,
And then they quack.
By barn and stable and stack
They wander at their will,
But if you go too near
They look at you through black
Small topaz-tinted eyes
And wish you ill.
Triangular and clear
They leave their curious track
In mud at the water’s edge,
And there amid the sedge
And slime they gobble and peer
Saying ‘Quack! quack!’

III.

When God had finished the stars and whirl of coloured suns
He turned His mind from big things to fashion little ones;
Beautiful tiny things (like daisies) He made, and then
He made the comical ones in case the minds of men
Should stiffen and become
Dull, humourless and glum,
And so forgetful of their Maker be
As to take even themselves – quite seriously.
Caterpillars and cats are lively and excellent puns:
All God’s jokes are good – even the practical ones!
And as for the duck, I think God must have smiled a bit
Seeing those bright eyes blink on the day He fashioned it.
And he’s probably laughing still at the sound that came
out of its bill!

Duck portraits by Muriel McDonald