Sometime in the last few days all the big leaf maples turned from tired green to soft pumpkin gold. As the skies faded to infinite shades of gray, the space between above and below began to glow with the light of thousands and thousands of leaves in their last moments of glory.
Jays, both Steller's and Scrub, are the predominant birds in the yard right now. Raucous, imitative, fractious creatures whose flight pattern is balletic. Flap, flap, soar - with tail feathers fanned behind like a mermaid's tail - repeated over and over until they land with firm confidence in a tree or on the ground.
Mostly invisible just a few weeks ago, the jays now spark against the lowering clouds like leftover slices of the summer sky. In some mythology jays are bestowed the ability to link the heavens and the earth. In my yard they weave through big leaf maples, silk cyan ribbons whose blue vibrance makes the gold of the leaves intensify even more.
I can't seem to take my eyes off these magnificent birds, and something about the explosion of color when blue shimmers across gold tickles my awareness. I've been watching jays for weeks now, spotting them far in the distance with an inner nod to their distinct silhouette. I find myself watching them dip from tree to tree, all of my senses, not just sight, responding deeply to the flashes of blue. Their ratchety chatter frequently breaks through whatever fog of concentration has me in its thrall.
Are they trying to tell me something? Had Bald Eagles been gathering in my yard for weeks, I would have paid attention immediately. New messengers for a new life?
Before seeking outside wisdom, I explore my own response to these jays. The words flow as easily as their flight: happy, confident, fearless.
Research reveals many other symbolic traits, all of which sing power: clarity, voice, assertion, curiosity, truth, endurance, patience, loyalty, vision, strength. And it offers these meanings, which sooth a heart hurt that grows with each new rejection and each new day of no clear direction: My visiting jays apparently are here to "teach me how to develop great talent." They represent "a time of greater resourcefulness and adaptability" and remind me there will be "ample opportunities to develop and use my abilities."
Unlike many of the other birds in my yard, the jays don't leave for the winter. They'll be here during the long dark cold months reminding me of our connection when I forget where to find my light.
And for good measure, one of the primary symbolic meanings of the maple tree: Balance.
photos from Flickr