The San Juans are obscured by mist and fog, and there’s a steady drizzle over the prow of the property. The ocean is grey, unsettled, and a cold wind breezes over the rocks at the base of the cliff. Waves lap the stones, too, of the Living Rock Island across the bay. A congregation of sea birds gather on the rock watching for feed out on the water. Tangled masses of bull kelp and driftwood bob and disappear.
I’m outside to leave a bit of bread for a raven. I can feel the chill air through my clothes. A freighter moves through the murk on the far side of Boundary Pass. I can’t see it, only a pair of bow and stern lights and the low distant rumble of its engines. If I look hard between the lights, I can discern its dark shape moving east through the Pass. Cargo from Incheon, Korea, maybe, or Yokohama.
A bit of bread for a raven
A seagull rises up on the wind from the rocks below. It knows I have bread, but it’s not for him. The raven’s been waiting patiently in the Garry Oak above the house for the past half hour. He calls with harsh clucking noises, watching the patio’s front door, willing to offer food. Watches as I spread the crumbs on the small table at the edge of the cliff.
It’s a muted world today. Grey clouds, grey water, an indistinct horizon. Not like the clear days of summer, where “you’ll feel part of every mountain, sea and shore” and “the glow of your being outshines every star.” 1 I’m feeling indistinct, not really at home outside, but drawn to it nevertheless.
No hurry for the season to end
We’re told it’s getting lighter, these early days of February, that Spring will be here soon. And then it will be Summer, and all will be right in the world again. But I’m in no great hurry for this season to end. As much as I feel wistful when the Summer changes to Fall, I inevitably fall in love with these subdued Winter days, the low clouds, the drizzle. I’m drawn to the cliffside and the churn of ocean and driftwood. No summer breeze caresses my face, rather a sharp tousle from the wind. Air in my lungs seems more soothing, restful. I can’t stay outside for long, though, and turn to go inside. I hope the season lasts another while yet.
Ravens don’t like being watched as they try to fill their mouths. No raven ever told me that, but they get skittish when I turn to watch them swoop in for the crumbs. They must be self-conscious, I imagine, trying to stuff as many bits of bread into their beaks as possible. A dance of futility. Three big chunks of bread don’t seem like much … there must be room for one more! And when they open their beaks for the fourth, the other three fall out. Start again! It might take three or four attempts before they realize that three pieces are the maximum payload.
Time to dream
“I wish that damned human would go away!” I imagine them thinking. “He’s a nice guy and all that, but I wish he’d get outta my face! He’s making me nervous!”
I won’t look until I’m inside the house, but I’ll soon be distracted. I’ll make some toast and sit down by the fire. But there’s a cup of coffee on the counter, the kitchen is warming up.
That’s enough work for now. I feel sleepy. There are bread books to look at. Time to dream.
If you liked this theme, read the Happy Monk blog post, “Praise the Rain” from December 2020.
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Cinnamon-Raisin bread, an enduring Happy Monk favourite. And here’s proof of Mildrith’s (the wood-fired oven) recent health check, as she just baked 41 loaves of this (and another 40 of Seed Feast) with lots of heat left to spare. Long live Mildrith and long live Cinnamon-Raisin bread!
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