Day 4: Feathers

Wednesday, 16th June 2021

Breakfast at sunrise on a lovely balcony, surrounded by birdsong – the day started well. I finished unpacking ALL THE THINGS (including books), composed drafts for travel blog posts, and wrapped up preparations before having a pleasant meeting with the Planning Committee for the upcoming European Summer Research Institute in August.

Seems like I brought a couple of books – here is a small selection …

As the outside temperature rose towards full-fledged pre-summer heat, I started feeling hangry and grumpy. Today was not a good day for doing things. This was meant to be a slow day. I felt tired and ready to rest, but also restless.

In the evening I felt the urge to go for a walk and hunt and gather some food. Delighted that REWE was open until 22:00, I started walking at 21:00 when the sun was still well above the horizon. Strolling past woods and through alleys, I felt a peculiar urge to connect with the trees and other nonhuman beings around me. Moments later, I heard a crow in the distance.

A bird’s feather on the sidewalk caught my attention. I reached down and picked it up. Walking on, a sudden remembrance of the principles of “The Honorable Harvest” from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book “Braiding Sweetgrass” stopped me in my tracks. Did I introduce myself? Did I declare my intention and purpose? Did I ask permission for this gift?

I softly whispered, “My name is Wolfgang. I intend to take this feather for the purpose of being more connected with all of you. Thank you for granting me this gift.”

Walking on, I wondered if that hadn’t still been far too hasty. Had I made a genuine ask, and had I awaited a response, or did I just assume that my wish would be granted?

A few steps later, my entire perception shifted. A thousand sounds filled my ears at once – birds, wind, rustling leaves, distant cars. I beheld my surroundings with sharp acuity – trees, grass, flowers, bushes, stones, houses, windows, cars, clouds, skies, reflections of evening sunlight. I felt the presence of all things animate and inanimate, and myself within.

A typical sunset in Northern Germany. (The photo doesn’t come close to the beauty of the original.)

Shopping at REWE pulled my awareness back into the mundane world. I still generally find it difficult to keep walking in several worlds at once, although it happens more often these days. On the way back home I listened to a couple of songs from Arstidir’s “Nivalis” and Wardruna’s “Kvitravn” album. Unsurprisingly, the latter was met with the appearance of more crows along the path.

I placed the feather next to my bed, remembered the trees, and fell into a deep slumber.

Soundtrack of the day:

Arstidir – “Nivalis” (album), “All Is Well“, “Meanderings
Wardruna – “Kvitravn” (album)

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