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.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Mystery of the Pryor Mountains

I recently went into the Pryor Mountains to show the Big Ice Cave to my husband, Bob.  We spent the entire day up there amidst the profound mystery that fills the thin air on those heights.  These mountains have long been sacred to the Crow Nation, and it is easy to understand why this is.

If you take your time, do not move too fast, and tune in to what the places have to say, you will experience any number of sensations.  For me, it is the absolute knowledge that I am being watched (over) by the presence of all those who have gone before.  There also is that feeling that I am on sacred ground...a powerful thing. 

The most important thing for any traveller on these roads (which are really tracks through the rock that is the mountain) come with respect and a willingness to leave behind the hubbub of everyday living back here on the part of the planet we have dubbed "civilization."  The Pryors offer a world of nature in may climates, desert to forest, and for those lucky enough, they offer a spirit world too.

I am grateful for both.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Magpie Odyssey Book 5 Underway

I am well into the first quarter of the newest book in the Magpie Odyssey series.  In this one, we will follow -- or should I say, we will be pulled along on -- the adventures of Willow Lorrah.  Willow has proven such a strong figure in the previous books that many of my readers have expressed a strong desire to know more about her.  This is not a surprise.  Willow has that sort of influence on any who come to know her.
Problem is, she is not an easy character to write. 
Not because she is not interesting, or because there is not that much to know about her.  On the contrary, she is fascinating.  But since it is my job to capture enough about her to put on paper, I can tell you she is elusive.  When she is prepared for me to write, she makes her presence known, and I write headlong, racing to keep up.  But then she will disappear for days at a time, and there is no way to write anything about her during that time.
It is not that I get writer's block.  I can write pages and pages about anything else.  Just not about Willow.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ferry trip

We have just returned from a trip to northcentral Montana.  It was time to cross the Missouri on the three ferries that still exist for this purpose.  We were able to cross at Carter and Virgelle, but the McClelland ferry was closed on the day we tried to go there.

We opted instead for the Bear Paw Battlefield, a National Historic place that reaches inside your soul and tears a piece of it away.  This is the location of the final six-day seige prior to Chief Joseph's capitulation and surrender.  I don't know if I have ever been in a more haunted place.  It has been kept in as pristine condition as possible, so you can really understand what the Nez Perce people were seeing and feeling.  The little stream and springs still supply water and the grasses still move in the breeze the same way they probably did in that fateful period of 1877.  There is good interpretive literature there, and trimmed and mowed trails allow you to walk in the footsteps of those who were there.  It might be a little out of the way, but every Montanan should see it! 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

From the Magpie Odyssey

Hello, and thank you for joining me at The Magpie Odyssey Blog.

In the aftermath of last night's storm, a family of magpies are busily making the most of the wet ground and cool temperatures.  In a most amazing turn of events, a pair of young parent magpies have raised five (yes, that's right, five) young "pies" in the relative seclusion of my yard.  They have learned to fly here, and are gradually growing tails that will eventually become the length of those their parents have.

For those of you who have followed my book series, "The Magpie Odyssey," you will understand the significance this has to me.  For those who have not, let it be said that these black and white guardians are good luck and that they bring some magic with them when they choose to live nearby.

With them for inspiration, I am well into the writing of my fifth book in the series.  The strong positive response (thanks, readers) to the first four books has been most appreciated, and I am sure readers will find number five to be even more exciting.  This time, we will follow the adventures of Willow, a character who has made some pretty amazing appearances in the past.  She is a demanding personality, and has let me know in no uncertain terms that it is time for her story to be told.  The book is about a year and a half from completion, but it seemed a good time to let you all know that it is underway.

If you are new to the Odyssey, check out my web page at!

Lorretta Lynde