Tuesday Teatime: On the road and in the air

Tea time on the fly, almost literally. Starbucks’ muffins while driving the Pennsylvania Turnpike, on the way to visit Grandma. We were listening to a book on tape, The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey. No poetry per se, but preparation for reading Shakespeare’s “Richard III.”

Oct. 10

Warm, sunny afternoons are disappearing fast, so we took advantage of this one to have afternoon tea on the deck. Tea sandwiches and cookies, apple juice and tea. Candlelight, even if it is a “bug candle.” Chickadee on the birdbath. Catbird in the dogwood tree. Poetry and prose. And it all turned out to be such a wonderful, connection-filled, CM, Bravewriter “moment.”

I read a couple of poems from Got Geography, which had come from the library that day. My young teenage son worked very hard at not smiling while he read the funny poem he had reluctantly pulled from one of Jack Prelutsky’s wonderful anthologies. Then I read a story poem, “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service, and the hidden smiles turned into outright laughter. (Note to self, maybe Service is someone to look into for poetry for teen boys.)

Another serving of nibbles and then I read “The Knight’s Tale” from Geraldine McCaughrean’s version of The Canterbury Tales. We both agreed; there is a reason why people still read Chaucer; he tells great stories. But we didn’t think the story had much to do with the movie.

Then my son wanted to read to me, from Pete Dunne’s The Art of Pishing. “Pishing” is what birders do, making funny noises to try to entice wild birds to come nearer so you can get a better look at them through your binoculars. Pete Dunne writes very well, and is very funny. We were laughing away when suddenly Dunne introduced the term onomatopoeic. My son reads aloud excellently, but this word was a challenge! And we were presented with a lesson on poetic forms, when we least expected it.

Now, we’ve heard birders “pish” birds. We’ve heard Pete Dunne “pish” birds. We’ve even attempted it ourselves, without much success. But the next day we decided to go for a quick bird walk in the park before the rain came. The park was gray, overcast, and silent. The only sound was a lawnmower at the school nearby. Not a bird to be seen.

One of us, I don’t know which, started “pishing” and suddenly — magic! — birds were everywhere! A flock of Warblers, some kinds we had never seen before. Chickadees. Titmouse. In the distance Blue Jays started screaming and then came flying in to see what was going on. Rain started “spitting,” but for thirty minutes the birds kept coming.

Nature and tea. And poetry and prose. And poetry. And Nature. Connections.

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