It snowed on my birthday this year, which seemed strangely appropriate. It’s been a long winter, and I’ve not traveled far, but instead stayed in New York, where the parks that fill with snow offer some silence and solace. But I have missed the chance to get away. Recently, the little burning lamp lights I saw across a lake in Central Park piled with drifts illuminated some small part of my mourning heart. This is the first winter that I’ve felt consistently cold, bone-chilled, in places that I love and have visited many times before. My feet froze while eagle watching at Croton Point (and there were no eagles), and I ran back to the train with arms outstretched, seeking to recover. The Hudson River was solid and silent and foreboding. I felt ice in my veins, perhaps, for the first time and it felt like a kind of loss because the most austere season has always represented a kind of renewal for me.
Since the start of the year, four starlings have made their way into my apartment. They each arrived in the morning, and I’d hear their rustling and curiosity. Once, I listened while a starling sang its mimicked warble, and I was astonished because the world the starling inhabited at that moment was geometric and reflective. It was a prison. I caught the birds one by one as they arrived, and felt them quiet under the darkness of a covering I threw over their tiny anxious bodies. I could not imagine how I had once attempted to free them through a chase and an open window. Stillness and observation was all that I needed. Also, this was the year that a mourning dove flew headlong into a glass window as I looked at the blue sky one morning, and this week, I found a small translucent egg on my sill beside an abandoned nest. I am so quiet in my apartment, but something must have frightened the nesting pair and I was sorry. The egg left behind resembles one of the smooth stones that fill the empty spaces in my apartment, all jumbled together with sea glass and petrified wood and shells that we once said could serve as goblets.