The Tree Swallow, and blog Takhuk (please scroll to bottom of page to find weekly posts) is where I hope you will find some short pieces of thoughtful reading, and other offerings of mine that may appear from time to time. About things that, like this bird the tree swallow, move quickly. But also, like the tree swallow, remain constant and timeless.
Why Tahkuk? Tahkuk represents the first 6 letters of the Ancient Greek word tahkukinetos which means tree swallow. Translated, the word means, moving quickly. I know nothing of Ancient Greek, by the way. I was just looking for a mysterious word to reflect the mystery of writing, of nature, and of this technology that allows me to share this with you.
When I discovered this Ancient Greek word and its meaning, I knew I had found exactly the right word to capture the theme of my blog, which is dedicated to the exploration of all those things in life that move quickly, yet never really change.
The Tree Swallow is a bird I came to love when I lived in the country. For many years I had a big old poplar tree with wonderfully large and bushy branches next to my deck. This tree with its abundance of leaves was a marvelous source of shade and movement and whispering. It was also a source of clinging white fluff and sticky yellow leaf casings that stained the deck, but those matters could not persuade me to trim the tree because in it every year nested a pair of tree swallows.
While I rarely saw their nest -the tree was very big and leafy and the birds were very secretive about their home – I knew from their zips and whips and in flight rendezvous’ in my yard that soon, there would be eggs in a nest somewhere in that tree and then, a few weeks later, my summer entertainment would begin, and I would take time in early morning or early evening to sit on the deck and watch.
Have you ever seen a family of tree swallows flying together? Their formations, their wing tip to wing tip, beak to tail feathers acrobatics and chasing games through over under roof eaves, deck posts, tree branches,telephone wires is a better show than the Snowbirds and Cirque De Soleil rolled into one.
This pair of tree swallows returned year after year, coming to know the territory and me so well they were willing to execute just a feather’s length from my body their exuberant thrilling stunts many of which I am convinced were just for my own private viewing. I saw their babies learn to fly which took no time at all and for weeks saw them revel in their own freedom and joy diving ducking circling around me,the wooden structures of the deck, and the big old poplar.
Well, these tree swallows completely captured my soul. I can still feel them flying around me, all I need to do is think of them. And when I do, I think of other things, which is why I am here now, writing to you, in case you too, have a bird, or some other charm, that leads your mind down similar paths to mine.
Thanks for reading,
I was born near water and mountains in the summer of 1962. I must have liked being born in summer near water and mountains because summertime, ocean, lake, river, mountains, all, I feel in my skin and bones, in my muscles and blood, in, my, soul. Frequently my mother had to come after me when I escaped naked from our house running toward, no doubt, the nearest creek or patch of rocks or trees. I had two older siblings both whom were as black a sheep as I was. My brother, for example, liked to sneak thumb tacks and June bugs onto the chair of our school teacher and then revel in delight as he watched the man sit down and horror come over his face. My sister kept, on the wall above her bed, a picture of a goats head floating in a pot of soup. This was apparently from a Rolling Stones album cover but nevertheless, it horrified me and made me wonder about my sister. Until she put up a poster of David Cassidy. Then I thought she would be alright. My own forms of entertainment had to do with mountain climbing, swimming, and berry picking in bare feet and a bikini, but sometimes I got tired and would spend an entire summer afternoon sitting on the front lawn of our lake town home waiting for tourists travelling highway 3 to stop and use the pay phone at the store across from our place. After every caller, I would jump on my purple banana seat bike and race across the highway to nab the dime that they sometimes left behind in the slot. Occasionally I would hit the jackpot and a handful of dimes would tumble out when I pumped the release. This was nirvana. I could buy a Coffee Crisp and a bag of salt and vinegar chips and a Grape Crush all at the same time. Then, in June, 1973 I moved to the north and exited childhood. I didn’t re-enter it until much later, when I had my own children. That’s when I learned that when you’re an adult, you don’t have to act like one every day. Just most days. When I wasn’t acting like an adult, or when I was, I was also running a business teaching studying politicking reading writing playing slo-pitch and later, when there was more time, hiking and travelling. Now those children are grown, and I, like all of us, have stories to tell. Some of us are driven to tell them. I am one of the driven.
My writing roots are, as far as I can tell, deep in my genetic code where no mad scientist can go. I believe this of all writers because if it were possible to manipulate the genes that make us writers we would all be lined up to get the ‘let me sleep, let me stop’ modification treatment.
Of course, I am happy to be a writer. I just wish it was easier. And, I wish it didn’t come with so much risk. What if I accidentally offend someone? What if I accidentally give away my deepest secrets? I didn’t worry about these things when I was a kid writing short stories and poems and keeping diaries and writing love letters to Scott Decembrini. But now, of course, that I am trying to become a published writer, I do worry about them. So I say now, my apologies if you are offended by anything I write or anything you learn about me that you would rather not have known.
Like some of us must sing, some of us must minister, some of us must come to the rescue, I must write. Like we all must eat and drink and breath, I must write. Being a true Canadian, again, I apologize.
Style is an elusive concept and therefore difficult to describe, especially if it is your own you are contemplating for a website piece like this. In fact, it is too elusive for words. Instead, I can say that, when I am writing, I am seeing hearing smelling feeling the story and that is what drives my words and sentences. Often, what I’m seeing hearing smelling feeling is intensely painful or intensely beautiful and therefore very personal. At those times, I enter the secret back room of Truth. And Truth is of course, a powerful place. After I have written those kinds of passages, I must find the courage to keep on the page what I have written.
I know if I fail to find the courage and try to pawn off the dishonest on my editor, she will call me on it straight up. Since I don’t want to waste her time, I try to face it on my own. I go back to the place, very early in the morning when even the birds are still sleeping, and I give over my soul to whatever Truth it is that I am supposed to get down on the page.
This is my approach to writing. To tell the truth.