Location: Israel

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Branches everywhere

This morning I got up late and lazy. Outside my bedroom window on the high dry branches my eye caught a bird, two birds. Grey with black wings, in England and New England they'd fit the description of a crow in his underwear. In Israel they're called ravens, I'm told. I've seen them inspecting garbage and dropped foodstuffs; this was the first time I'd seen them doing anything in trees besides waiting and watching. I watched. He took tight hold of a twig with his beak and he bent and pulled and pushed. Soon he had broken off a long stiff shoelace.
Chilly February morning. He wasn't collecting kindling; he was obviously collecting material for his nest. I considered the season, the calendar. Next Monday will be Tu B'Shevat. The New Year for Trees. The day, I learned in cheder (Brick Lane Talmud Torah), that the sap rises in the trees. Next week arboreal life will begin its new cycle. So this week the twigs are as dead and dried as they can be: the ideal time for birds to snap them off easily. Good time for the birds to start their nest-building. And the trees are helped by being pruned.
Together the world's works fit and function whether we pay attention or not. I watched one detail of the vast system from my bedroom. The bird seemed to wait until its partner was ready, then flew off. Moments later, the second bird followed, carrying its own twig, flapping and gliding between the apartment blocks.
So the dove, after the Flood, must have grasped in its beak the twig from an olive tree, must have pulled and bent and twisted.


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