Thursday, August 8, 2013

May the Circle be Unbroken

Early this week, our circle of three Lynde Elders was changed forever.  For my entire life, my brother Stan and my sister Chris have been shining stars who flanked me on either side.  I always felt safe and solid, knowing they were there, and I leaned on them many times.  We all knew there would come a time when one of us would leave this place and go to the Other Side.  But for more than sixty-five years, we stood as almost a singular entity.

Those of you who know all of us understand why we were the way we were.  Growing up in the remote reaches of eastern Montana, in the foothills and the heights of the Big Horn Mountains, we only had each other for long stretches of time.  That kind of history draws you close and binds you together in a way that few siblings ever experience.  And we loved our history. 

Somewhere between two and three o'clock on Tuesday morning, Stan departed.  Cancer showed all of us that we are not immortal in this existence, and he slipped from our hands as softly as silk.  He left a huge footprint on this earth and in our lives.  Nothing ever will be the same.  Of course, we are sad and a little lost.  But we also are lucky that we had all those years together.

Now there is a ripple in the atmosphere that surrounds me and my sister.  We are two instead of three.  And yet...the Circle is unbroken, held together with love and memory.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Willow" Launch -- Fun!

We had a great Launch of "Willow: The Magpie Odyssey V" on October 16 at the Wingate by Windham here in Helena.  All told, about fifty people came to help us celebrate and get the new book on its way.  "Willow" is a book that has been a long time coming, but there never was any doubt that it would be written.  Between the fact that Willow Lorrah continued to appear at will (hers, not mine) in every book of The Magpie Odyssey series and the multiple requests from readers to know more about her, the book took on a life of its own.
As the author, I am eager to hear what her audience has to say about her now that her story is more completely told.  Readers, you will have the chance to see the impact her life has on the future of Aisling, another favorite character from the next generation of the Lorrah family.  You'll find the ride to be a real roller-coaster of emotions and danger, punctuated with humor at Willow's unabashed dash through life.  Feel free to let me know what you think!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

"Willow" -- The Magpie Odyssey V

"Willow" - The Magpie Odyssey V

I can't believe it was February when last I posted to this blog.  I can only attribute this to the fact that I was consumed with getting The Magpie Odyssey V ready for production.  It has gone off to the publisher and the galleys are back for editing.  Now I can tell you that it is simply called "Willow" and it tells the story of that elusive woman who has haunted most of the previous books in the series.  For those of you who follow such things, Willow is the younger, irrepressible sister of Mike Lorrah.  She has appeared at will (Her will, not mine) at various times throughout the story of the Lorrahs.  This Montana ranch family boasts four generations on the Crow Indian Reservation, and has a long history of Irish Old Religion practices supplemented by Crow Indian medicine.  The Magpie Odyssey series has traced the parallels between the two cultures and their beliefs while telling the story of the Lorrahs' deep friendships with tribal members. 

Willow always defied the traditional role that had been expected of her, and this tale of her adventures serves to enlighten one of the younger Lorrah family members.  Aisling Lorrah is the great-great niece of Willow, and when she undertakes some family history research for a University class project, she learns much about this ancestor -- but more about herself.  How the lives and experiences of these two women weave together will make a great ride for any reader.  There is mystery, magic, and danger in this new book.

Willow would not have it any other way.

Note:  Publication is expected later in the summer.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Magpies in Snow

The lightest snow has been sifting down all day today in our mountainside neighborhood.  Several very fluffed up magpies showed up this afternoon, checking the crab apple tree and the chokecherries for fruity snacks.  At the same time, they found it entertaining to talk incessantly to the three deer who came into the yard.  Sometimes it appeared that the conversation was very earnest, but mostly the birds seemed to like landing right at the noses of their four-legged dining companions. For a while, I was not sure what they were trying to do, but then I noted that the deer were pawing in the snow for fruit that had dropped to the ground and been covered, and the 'pies were waiting until it was revealed.  Then they would snatch it from under the deers' noses and fly up in the tree to eat it.  Great way to get someone else to do the work for you.  This went on for about a half hour, and then both the deer and the birds seemed satisfied. The deer left and the magpies treated themselves to a splash in my heated birdbath.   There is never a dull moment here when it comes to my black and white friends.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Thought

It's an unseasonably warm Christmas Eve, perhaps a gift to those who traveled to be with loved ones a distance away.  For me, a day spent peacefully with my brother and sister-in-law and their family, enjoying watching the excitement of my great-niece and nephew as they work very hard at "waiting" for tomorrow's big event.  Everything was quiet around the town and the magpies had only a few comments to make as they surveyed the branches of my flowering crab apple tree.  While it is dormant for the winter, it has many freeze-dried apples on its twigs, and they are a favorite of my black-and-white friends. (They are best eaten from the tree, since the mule deer have devoured anything that fell to the ground.)  The magpies seemed to have a leisurely day, soaring here and there rather than intently pursuing possible food sources.  Life is so much better for them when there is no snow. 
I stepped outside to tell them that it is nearly the new year, but this seemed to be of little importance to them.  All they know is that the days are now a little longer, and that is good for hunting and gathering.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to each and every one of them and to you, as well.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Magpie Funeral

Yesterday, a single magpie sat on the edge of the birdbath near my north door.  Its calls were singular and insistent, as if it wanted someone to hear it.  When I first looked outside, I did not see what it was trying to say, but a glance to one side and down on the ground at the base of the chokecherry trees answered my question.  Another magpie was there, lying still on the ground. 

Once I was outside, the single magpie sat in the branches above my head, watching and waiting, while I looked at its fallen companion.  The second magpie had died in the shelter of the trees, and there was no sign of what had caused its death. 

I gathered up the still-iridescent body in a cloth from the garage and carried it to where I had bagged leaves and twigs from the yard.  Still under the watchful eye of the bird who called me, I nestled the body of its friend in this resting place and closed the bag.  Apparently satisfied with this solution, the other magpie rose into the sky and flew away as I watched. 

It was a haunting moment that will stay with me for a while.

One for sorrow.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

An Autumn Game

Well it had to five magpie babies have grown up...almost.  On the surface, they now have glossy feathers, and long tails.  Their voices have changed from the higher pitched begging for food from their parents to normal magpie voices.  But they still have some of their juvenile activities.

A few weeks ago, I caught them playing  a game in front of the lilac the detriment of my flower bed.  One of them would swoop down, land on the walk and pluck the biggest marigold blossom off the plant.  With it firmly grasped in his beak, he (she?) would then fly off, leading the others in a frantic airborne game of Keep Away.

I have never seen magpies do this before, and it certainly left the flowers very much the worse for the wear.  They kept it up for about three weeks, off and on, and then quit the whole endeavor as suddenly as they began.  They have moved on to the sport is teasing the young squirrels who live in my trees.  The squirrel "kids" don't seem to fact, they run from the magpies, but if the birds stop chasing them, the squirrels turn and come back to find out why.

The magpies are a constant source of entertainment, and I am glad they stay for the winter.  When other birds have vanished toward the south, I know I can depend upon these hardy spirits to occupy the trees and talk among themselves.  All while wearing little bird tuxedos.  Amazing.