Merlita Mornings And Musings

Until they leave later this month, Redwing Blackbirds have a place in my early fall routine. They crowd an open feeder to gobble up sunflower seeds just as soon as it is light in the mornings. My fellow farmgirl friend, Michele, makes a wood & screen feeder and she gave one to me; she said it would likely attract birds that do not normally come to a feeder.

So many things to cover this week! It feels like harvest time all the way around. Nature produced a bounty to prepare us for the coming winter. Let’s see if we can make a place in the ‘pantry’ for alllllll that I have to share with you in this installment.

“O blackbird! Sing me something well. While the neighbors shoo the round, I keep smooth plates of fruitful ground, where thou may warble, eat and dwell.” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

Blackbirds have been in my view and on my mind of late. If you’re a MaryJanesFarm sisterhood member, you might have noticed the pattern for the pin pillow (top photo) in the current edition of the online newsletter, the Cluck. If you’re not yet a member, you can do so by visiting the MJF sisterhood connection webpage — simply click on the banner at the top of this page and it will take you there. Then, follow the instructions in the second paragraph.

Little Merlita

A red-winged Merlita graces my tree,

A sprite little fellow as ever could be,

His eyes: so alert, his feathers: so black;

Long is his tail, so glossy his back,

He feasts in a tray of sunflower seeds,

An October journey hurries the need,

First is his kin to hint that autumn is nigh,

They make dot-to-dot puzzles in afternoon skies,

Then, one frosty morning,

Merlita leaves us to the frost and the gale,

His hasty departure is a harbinger tale.

~ Shery Jespersen

This time of year, late bloomers are the last hurrah of summer. Grapes have ripened. Most of the flowers are weary and have gone or will soon go to seed. Nests in trees and shrubs are vacant. A few butterflies remain, the bumblebees in their fur coats are reluctant to give up on summer. Plus, clouds of blackbirds gather on fences. Gypsies believe crows are wise. True, they are exceptionally intelligent birds. They also believe it is good luck to have a colony of blackbirds on your property. I’m not a believer of luck, but I love seeing blackbirds making their summer home in the reeds all along the creek behind us.

This past week held somber moments for millions of Americans. We observed the 10th anniversary of the tragedies of September 11th, 2001. I sought out and watched every televised program I could on the subject. Perhaps many of you did the same. I especially enjoyed the documentary film, “Rebirth”. Recovery, rebuilding, healing and hope was the theme. From my doorstep to New York City is 1,800 miles, but my heart was standing with the families at ground zero as they read the names at the new memorial park. All week, my thoughts often traveled back to 9/11.

Now, you may think this odd, but the blackbirds all around me became part of my 9/11 thought processing. And, I know that what came to me was intended to be shared. The really good “stuff” is never of my own creation. Every good and perfect “gift” is from above. And, when there is a string or a cluster of them, it is confirmed (in my mind), especially so when I don’t look for them and they just seem to fall together like colorful fall leaves perfectly layed down … beautifully and timely.

The first thing that came to me was a Bible verse in Genesis … when the Lord sent a crow and a dove away from Noah’s ark to look for signs of life (hope for all onboard). The crow never returned. The dove brought back an olive branch (a symbol of peace). Good news on both counts! I think it is sad that black birds and crows somehow became bearers of bad tidings and symbols of darkness when just the opposite is true.

Crows are especially delightful birds. They mate for life, are excellent parents and even younger siblings take care of their baby sisters & brothers. There is nothing sinister or doomy about them. I think I received a heaven sent message in support of this right in my own backyard. Blackbirds and doves sat side by side on the morning of 9/11 on our back fence near the birdfeeder. The words encouragement and peace came to mind … much like the old passage from scripture. Coincidence? Not to me.

So, then there is more: I’ve had these songs saved on my desktop for this blog for over a month. The signifigance was initially superficial. I was just rolling with a theme. Then, 9/11 approached and when I revisited the songs and the lyrics, I sat here humbled. They’re eerily and perfectly fitting. First, one of the most poetic songs every composed by the Beatles: Blackbird. When I listened to it, I thought of the young woman in “Rebirth” who grieved so long for her lost fiancee`… and for all the 9/11 families who have struggled with trying to make peace with a future that no longer includes lost loved ones.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night,

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

All your life,

You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Black bird singing in the dead of night,

Take these sunken eyes and learn to see

All your life,

You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackbird fly … Blackbird fly …

Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night,

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

All your life,

You were only waiting for this moment to arise,

You were only waiting for this moment to arise.


Arise … and do what? Live again, hope again, feel joy again, laugh again from way down deep, praise again, feeling the light of morning within again. “Blackbird singing in the dead of night – take these broken wings and learn to fly”; there is a striking paradox. Learning to fly with ‘broken wings’? Isn’t that what living with grief is like? “You were only waiting for this moment to arise.” In grief, we wait and long for relief even when reluctant to let it go. “Blackbird fly into the light of a dark black night.” Is there light in the dark? I’ll let those of you who have seen it answer that.

And, after the darkness comes mourning … and morning. This next song, Morning Has Broken, was made famous by Cat Stevens, but did you know it is a hymn?? I didn’t. But, when I re-listened to it, oh yes, it fits all the requirements. Again, our friend the blackbird is featured.

Morning has broken, like the first morning,

Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.

Praise for the singing, praise for the morning,

Praise for them springing fresh from the word.

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven,

Like the first dew fall on the first grass.

Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,

Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning,

Born of the one light Eden saw play.

Praise with elation, praise every morning,

God’s re-creation of the new day.

Cool the gray clouds roll, peaking the mountains,

Gull in her free flight, swooping the skies.

Praise for the mystery, misting the morning,

Behind the shadow, waiting to shine.

I am the sunrise, warming the heavens,

Spilling my warm glow over the earth.

Praise for the brightness of this new morning,

Filling my spirit with Your great love.

Mine is a turning, mine is a new life,

Mine is a journey closer to You.

Praise for the sweet glimpse, caught in a moment,

Joy breathing deeply, dancing in flight.


Broken wings do heal and dance in flight again.

And so, I left this most recent September 11th with a new outlook. Our nation has grieved with 3,000 broken-hearted families for 10 long years. The water of the memorial waterfalls in the trade tower footprints mimics a million fallen tears. But, now the ‘sound of many waters’ is more like healing ‘holy’ water … living love in liquid form … which, if ya think about it, is exactly what water really is.

The end of summer. On one hand, I hate to see her go, but I’m fickle too. Autumn is my favorite season! September is when the sky is half summer and half fall. Hints of change are coming little by little. Recently, I was “on assignment” for an upcoming MJF article and it required a drive through the nearby Black Hills. I left early so that I would have time to take a little walk here & there. Come with me, the path is marked in the top middle photo …

Some things are more fun shared with friends, but I also love being all by myself in the middle of Mother Nature. Do you? I don’t feel alone. I feel wholeness and entirely ‘uncrowded’. Ahhh, but I had to get going and on to my appointment. I can’t tell you about the what of it, but I’ll sneak you a teaser or 2 :o)

Back to the ‘end of summer’. While running errands the other day, I brought my pickup to a halt when I layed eyes on a statue in downtown Newcastle. I drive by the “Prairie Flowers” statue all the time, but on this day the ‘lady’ was in a perfect setting! White and purple coneflowers were in full bloom and this barefoot, bronze farmgirl was surrounded by wildflowers. I took pictures to share with you … and then went on my way … stopping also at a farmer’s market. The sweet fragrance of Woonsocket melons filled my truck the rest of the day.

Moving right along … I did tell you I had a lot to share! Every second weekend in September, our little town hosts a “fall festival”. This year, it was the day before September 11th. Craft vendors lined the city park’s pathway. The focus, however, is a class car show – “Show & Shine”. Even the cars held symbolism for me. From rust, ruin and ‘death’ … old cars were given new life by way of tender, loving care. I admit to coveting on a grand scale. The photos of these FABulous cars don’t need wordy embellishment … so, here they are:

Above & below: farmgirl pals, Lisa and Judy. Lisa (with her grand daughter) was selling her ‘gourmet’ paper goods while Judy was selling garden produce and baked goods on behalf of the senior citizen’s center.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch :o) … summer is winding down here too. A couple of weeks ago, we finished hauling hay home. One evening, we went out and loaded the last of it with the help of a couple of friends. I drove the truck while the boys stacked bales. We like to have small stash of small square bales to feed our horses here at home when the weather is particularly bad … as in WINDY. Trying to pitch loose hay off of a round bale in the wind is futile and really annoying!

I was reminded the other day that it is also cocklebur season. Ugh. Makes horse grooming more of a challenge. Here is “Ribbon” sporting her most recent hair accessory.

My farmgirl friend, Anita, tells me she’ll have a bumper crop of pumpkins this year. They’re presently lying ‘in state’ getting bigger and orangey-er … just waiting for a ‘face’ or a pie plate. Open wide the gate to fall … here we come. Until we meet again, enjoy it in your little corner of the world … and thank you again for stopping by for a farmgirl fix!

  1. karen bates says:

    Wow, just love this post…I have a new appreciation for blackbirds…of which, I have many in their flocks around my property.

    This is a time of bounty and I thank you for showing me the wonderful beauty (in photos) of this time.

  2. Ann says:

    That cloth bird at the beginning of your post really caught my eye as well as your lovely vignette. I will go back to the Cluck site and look for this pattern. As always, your photos are stunning. I did not know this about blackbirds. I just wish they weren’t so raucous in the mornings around my house! Sometimes it would be nice to sleep in!

  3. Lori Nichols says:

    ALL of my favorite blackbird references … thank you Shery for your words and your insight and for reminding us that without the black, dark and shadows of creation, the light would never shine so bright….

  4. Bambi says:

    What a great post! In the photos of your Black Hills drive, can you tell me what the plant is in the first frame. (green with purple edges) Thank you for all the effort you put into your posts, I always look forward to reading them. Keep up the good work!

  5. Brenda says:

    Shery, what a wonderful post. We had a ton of red winged blackbirds in the area I grew up. But not here. We do have a lot of crows, large groups of them that make a lot of noise at us when we walk through the woods or work in our back garden. I will look at them differently after reading your post. Happy Fall Shery!

  6. Betty Benesi says:

    We have many black birds and crows as well. The crows particularly have become more abundent the last few years and have pushed out the blue jays. Very few jays around anymore. Both really squawky (SP). The Black bird song has a particular meaning for me as well. It was on the radio when I found out one of my horses, Ruby had been put down.
    She was a profoundly disturbed little horse who I loved dearly, but could never ride. She was pretty and playful but I always felt that life had not been particulary good to her. So at last she could fly.

  7. Janet says:

    Yours is the only one of the blogs I truly enjoy and this one took the cake. Thanks for sharing all of what you enjoy. Just wish we could be neighbors….

  8. Grace~katmom says:

    Hey Shery,
    Karen Bates (above) is a dear friend of mine and we will be camping next weekend….hurry & get a lil vintage trailer & come join us….then we can sit around the firepit, museing and sharing life’s adventures.
    Happy Autumn from my side of the State to yours.

  9. Julia Hursh says:

    Oh, how I enjoyed the writings and pictures you shared!!:) We live on a remote ranch in the Chihuahuan Desert in far west Texas…. so I just loved seeing a different part of our country. Thanks for sharing your life and surroundings. May you and yours have a blessed day – Happy trails – J

  10. Brenda says:

    Shery, just found your blog for the first time today. How wonderfully insightful you are. Reading your words of encouragement and viewing the stunning photography have given me a feeling of excitement to start my day. Oh, I miss my farm. I long to experience the abundance of life that each day offers when one lives on a farm. I think it’s time I make this dream into a reality again and shop for a little land. You’re an inspiration.

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