Last night near 3:00 a.m., a violent thunderstorm—really several—passed our house. The bright flashes and pounding thunder woke me. I used the bathroom and returned to sleep. The storms were farther north and east when the sun broke light on the sky.
I ran my Tuesday routine of 3.1 miles around the 8 o’clock hour. The clear sky and bright sun belied the violence of the previous night. My pace on these runs is easy so when I flushed a robin I noticed the trajectory of flight and that it was a robin. It occurred to me a few steps later that Mary Oliver can write about her experiences in such detail because she sees her robins—really everything in nature—on her repeated walks near her house, stopping often to observe. She takes time to notice and name. I only see one robin and take little notice. Reading Upstream, however, has caused me to reflect on my sight and how I nurture it.
Later in the run and not far from where I startled the robin into flight, I saw an earthworm inching its way onto the the pavement. The damp roadway was only a taste of the drenched top-soil, limited as it is in our part of Georgia, in the yards along the streets. The earthworm still lived with the storms, even if I only noticed the wet road and the bright, clear sky. Seeking refuge, the slinking noodle moved onto the road, where my shoe and the robin wait. The exposure somehow safer than remaining in the ground.
I noticed later in the park near Mercer—where I work—a second robin flash from my path. But this one only managed a short flight into a limb two-feet off the ground in a nearby tree. This robin was different from the one I encountered on the run, or at least I think so. Pregnant with new life waiting for a nest of her own, the second robin signaled spring like the first but with a promise. It occurred to me later that worms in roads do the same thing after rainfalls. Maybe I am beginning to notice Mary Oliver’s world—it has been there all along.