Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Share Art: "The Show" from Raven's End, by Ben Gadd

Sharing a passage from Ben Gadd's Raven's End, a novel following a flock of ravens each season in the Rocky Mountains. I learned of this book as its words were featured in the documentary, A Life Ascending. It reminds me to be in awe of nature, be humbled by its elements, and that many life forms, not just we humans, delight in "gifts" of the season. Look upward at the sky and admire the birds in flight. Think of the "show" the trees are putting on. I shall always think of the changing of the leaves as "The Show."

"Across the Bow Valley, a large grove of aspen had come into its fall color. Since every tree in the grove was joined at the roots to every other tree, they all got the word at once - "Do it! Now!" - and they did. They let the chlorophyll in their leaves go from green to colorless, and the yellow carotene, present all the while in the leaves but masked by the green, emerged from hiding. Every aspen in the grove went gloriously gold.

Yes, the Show was on. And it grew better by the day. The evergreens contributed by darkening their needles to afford maximum contrast against the aspen patches, which spattered the foothills with yellow. On the forest floor too, the Show erupted. This was wild-rose country, and countless thousands of rose bushes went from summer green to autumn red. Every rose leaf, half the length of a raven's bill, blushed brighter by the hour.

In flight, the birds could look down to the dots of red, each advertising the rose hips - the fruit of the roses - weighing down the plants. Those rose hips were red and swollen with seeds, good for a bird. Good for Colin and Zack and Molly as the bright-blue days of fall drifted on. They feasted on rose hips and raspberries and gooseberries and all the other gifts of that prickly tribe."

Delighting in cranberry sauce just as birds and bears delight in their findings.

"Black bears ran from one bountiful shrub to the next, eating urgently. They ripped at the fruit-laden boughs with their claws and stuffed the berries in their mouths, leaves and all, chewing only a few times and swallowing hard, driven by a powerful hunger. Each bear had to grow very fat if it was to survive the winter-long sleep that was soon to come.

Overhead, the great migration began. Millions of birds-ducks, geese, robins, sparrows, warblers - followed the eastern edge of the Rockies on their way south. The eagles cruised over the rough gray ridges of the front ranges, while the hawks preferred the rolling green-and-yellow swells of the foothills. Some migrants journeyed west instead of south, across the mountains to the Pacific coast, where they could winter by the sea."

Learn more about Ben Gadd's Raven's End

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