A Promise of Tomorrows

AS AN AVID AND LIFELONG CONSUMER AND USER OF COLLECTIVE (OR GROUP) NOUNS and peering over the brink of a looming – and I sincerely hope – a welcoming New Year, I thought I would eschew dwelling on a flight of yesterdays or a twinkling of todays and opt for a promise of tomorrows – they may be as promising as you may so desire and pray for!

But first things first: paramount on my to-do list year-end is to drain a swamp of junk mail that clogs my primary account, short of my changing it altogether. Thankfully, a bromide of greeting cards will be behind me as well as the hectic holiday shopping season, which for many – including myself – meant avoiding the perilous quicksand of credit cards without at least enjoying some level of gratification from using them.

Back in India, at this or at any other time of the year, one is faced in its metropolises with a strangle of city dwellers, a Calcutta of panhandlers, a charge of taxis, or a lurch of buses.

Leaving daily urban life aside, you can always opt for the charm of the open countryside, at home or abroad. Out in the field, you may awaken to a prattle of parrots or a ubiquity of sparrows doing what comes naturally in their early morning awakening.

As for me, I prefer to watch birds in flight, such as an exaltation of larks, or a murmuration of starling – an unmatched phenomenon in Nature worldwide!

Then again, who cannot admire a radiance of cardinals (left),  or a swoop of swallows (below)

And back in India, a visitor to that haven of wild life may witness invariably the wonder of the South Asian avian world – an ostentation of peacocks in all their colorful splendor!
Coming from a family of sportsmen, I became familiar early on with a variety of birds in the wild. I couldn’t bear going out shooting for game for the dinner pot with my father and elder brother, but I did help the local village beaters out in the field with flushing out the feathered creatures, be they a covey of partridge, a sourde of mallards (male wild duck), a spring of teal, a nye of pheasants, or a team of ducks.

On the strictly four-footed animal side, I can still recall my father rattling off a ream of collectives while out on shikar (hunting): a streak of tigers, a pride of lions, or a leap of leopards – each tripping off his tongue and each accompanied by some bone-chilling account of an encounter with at least one of those particularly dangerous denizens of the jungle during his annual hunting expeditions in the Terai forest in India’s Northeast.

An Exaltation of Larks by James Lipton; My own Field Diaries of 1974-75 include the poem below that I wrote in Ranchi, Bihar, India in 1975 during an annual holiday with my family.

                   MURMURATION OF STARLING
                       I  Six o’clock sun–up
                          and the dawn seeing 
                          beeswarms of startled

                          starling, fling and flip
                          like an upswinging
                          dark and unbridled
                          wave of winged words past
                          the swift, swirling mist.

                       II A chitter–chatter
                          of rude excitement
                          rides the vibrant air
                          the very moment

                          of wheeling, whirling;
                          each pirouette being
                          executed with
                          skill and perfect truth

                          against alternate
                          patches of off–white
                          nimbus and sky–blue.
                          Then – in answer to
                          a prearranged code –
                          the mighty, fluid

                          murmuration drops
                          earthwards like a stone
                          on the standing crops
                          of ripening corn:                           

                    III With one last brush–stroke
                          – worked upon the bleak

                          Western horizon –
                          the skyscape Whistlers
                          take to field colors
                          of arboreal brown

                          and green, leaving that
                          once motile canvas
                          of heaven lifeless,
                          bare and desolate.

                                    Ranchi, Bihar, India (1975)

Dear Readers,

You number over 62,000 since January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, on the eve of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work the next twelve months.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

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