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  • Writer's pictureYolande Snaith

Walk With Me - Feather Finding, Reading, UK, September 2021

Words and images form my walks and interactions with nature and the environment.

I have become fascinated with feathers since my son died, and like many people who have lost a loved one, I happen upon them daily in mysterious and uncanny ways. I collect these tender gifts of love from my feathered friends, that land in my life from dimensions of time and space that I can never reach, tree top heights that I can never touch. My precious son flew too high in his momentary madness, desperation, confusion, naivety, and internal pain. But like so many teenagers and young adults, a dangerous sense of invincibility cost him his life.

I am reminded of Icarus, the young boy who flew too high with the wings fashioned from wax and feathers that his father made for him. Warned not to fly too high because the heat of the sun would melt the wax, or too low as the sea water would clog the feathers, Icarus took a great risk. His young adventurous and fearless spirit cost him his life when he flew too close to the sun and fell into the sea and drowned. This ancient Greek myth is renowned as a metaphor for all young boys who are unable to make the transition from boyhood into manhood. Like so many young men today who experiment with ‘getting high’, blind to the dangers of the potentially deadly drugs that are so available on the streets these days.

I never see them fall, but so many times I find them, right there in my path, fresh from the sky, perfectly shaped and formed, often in poignant synchronicity with my thoughts, or in time with the end of a verse I am singing. I read them as profound punctuations of linear time, gifts from an imaginal realm of radial time and space that speak to me like little love notes.

Is it just that I notice them now or are there more feathers falling than ever before? I see them everywhere, scattered like markers of flight paths, mapping aerial journeys of timeless angels. I see them mixed in with the drifts of windswept leaves, twigs and litter at the side of pavements, or in the gutters, strewn over parks and gardens, or strategically placed along the path waiting for me, specifically for me, I like to believe.

I see leaves falling, but never a feather. Not once. When do they fall? How do they find the earth so invisibly, like some secret phenomenon of feather shedding that only occurs during the blink of my eye, or a brief glance in another direction. Perhaps they only fall in darkness and rest in the light. Perhaps they don't fall, but are surreptitiously ejected when the bird momentarily lands, like shooting arrows at short range onto the earth.

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