In the shapeliness of a life, habit plays its sovereign role… Most people take action by habit in small things more often than in important things, for it’s the simple matters that get done readily, while the more somber and interesting, taking more effort and being more complex, often must wait for another day. Thus, we could improve ourselves quite well by habit, by its judicious assistance, but it’s more likely that habits rule us.

How do you start the morning?  Are you soothed by routine?


I head to the porch. Coffee, book, osprey.

‘My’ osprey is a creature of habit, just like me. It has a favorite perch and lets me know when it arrives. (Crank up the volume.)

I’m fairly certain that it is part of a breeding pair. A superb fisher, it likes this snag with commanding views of the lagoon.

It draws attention to itself  by emitting a series of plaintive staccato whistles. Osprey as poet. Circling high, hovering low, doing a little sky dancing.

Morning coffee, osprey. And Mary Oliver ~ poet as witness. Her work is loving the world, her words so fervid you feel rooted beside her.  Oliver casts her “thoughts upon the object”, as Emerson urged poets to do.


The Osprey     (Mary Oliver)

This morning
an osprey
with its narrow
black-and-white face

and its cupidinous eyes
leaned down
from a leafy tree
to look into the lake – it looked

a long time, then its powerful
shoulders punched out a little
and it fell,
it rippled down

into the water –
then it rose, carrying,
in the clips of its feet,
a slim and limber

silver fish, a scrim
of red rubies
on its flashing sides.
All of this

was wonderful
to look at,
so I simply stood there,
in the blue morning,

Then I walked away.
Beauty is my work,
but not my only work –

when the fish was gone forever
and the bird was miles away,
I came back

and stood on the shore, thinking –
and if you think
thinking is a mild exercise,

I mean, I was swimming for my life –
and I was thundering this way and that way
in my shirt of feathers –
and I could not resolve anything long enough

to become one thing
except this: the imaginer.
It was inescapable
as over and over it flung me,

without pause or mercy it flung me
to both sides of the beautiful water –
to both sides
of the knife.


I’m such a fan of Mary Oliver, the imaginer. Just type her name in our blog search box. See what I mean?


Oliver lives just south of me. We’ll probably never meet. But I know what to do with some of my wild and precious life.


Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.
Toni 1/2/16

2 thoughts on ““Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I’ve got an answer for you, Mary Oliver.

  1. Mary Oliver is one of my favourite poets too. I shall never meet her either as I live on the other side of the world but that doesn’t stop my reading everything about her. I’ve never seen an osprey but thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my favorites, Toni. I love that thought of yours, too, about needing only to stand wherever you are to be blessed.
    PS I’ve watched the Osprey do what Mary Oliver describes and then shift the fish so that it can fly with aerodynamic efficiency, the fish going head to tail rather than sideways.


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