92 Comments

I don’t go to church but these beautiful letters that arrive on Sunday mornings feel like sermons to me. Chloe, somehow you capture what’s sacred about life and death and birds. What a balm for the griever’s heart and for all of us who find our churches in nature.

Expand full comment
author

Tina, thank you. Nature is my chosen church, too.

Expand full comment

I feel the same way, what a beautiful way to describe it.

Expand full comment
Apr 28Liked by Chloe Hope

“I do not believe that my life is limited by my mortality—in fact, I am certain that it is enhanced by it. “ thank you for this.

Expand full comment
author

You are so very welcome, Catherine. Thank you, for your support.

Expand full comment

Gorgeous. Here in the American South, the birds we call “Buzzard” is such an interesting foil for yours: a scavenger with talons too weak for killing and no capacity for vocalization - hasn’t even got a syrinx. Death’s mute handmaidens 🖤

Expand full comment
author

Oh, bless them! It amazes me, all the names we share across the pond for birds which are entirely different. Thank you, Kimberly 🤍

Expand full comment

Oh thanks for this comment! I loved this essay (as I always do, this newsletter is one of the true gems of Substack) but grew up in Virginia and kept thinking, “I’ve never heard a buzzard make a sound! What was I doing wrong as a young naturalist?” It never even occurred to me that the same common name was used for vastly different species. Now I get it.

Expand full comment
author

Brian, you're very kind, I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and I apologise sincerely for the confusion. I'm still not up to date on all of the birds which we share-but-don't-share. I've updated the post with a footnote and a link to what the UK Buzzards look and sound like!

Expand full comment

Def not trying to be self promoting here, but as one southern nature nerd to another, I wanted to share a piece on “our” buzzard I wrote bc the first fact that got me going was how they don’t make sound 💚

https://bittersoutherner.com/feature/2022/the-other-buzzard

Expand full comment

What an incredible piece of writing, Kimberly! I’ll be sharing it widely.

Expand full comment

What a wildly kind response, Julie - thank you so much for taking the time to read it. I’d love for you to share Wilson with more folks 💚

Expand full comment

I am so glad you self-promoted... what a beautiful piece of writing. (Please pass my compliments on to the photographer, too, if you're in touch with him.) I loved getting to know, however briefly, your feathered Boo Radley...

Expand full comment

Thanks so much, Brian - I grew very fond of that sweet, strange bird. That photographer was an absolute MAGICIAN. Due to a number of conflicts, he had to photograph Wilson *during* a birds of prey show and still got those shots. Wizard level.

Expand full comment

Thank you, Kimberly for the lovely essay and for introducing me to The Bitter Southerner! I can’t wait to dig in!

Expand full comment

Thanks so much for reading, Linda - Bitter Southerner is a fantastic publication; I was really grateful to get to contribute. Their physical magazines are *gorgeous* and very delicious to read (they're HUGE...feels very indulgent!)

Expand full comment

As always, it's the contrarian detail which captivates me: "David once saw one pin down a Wood Pigeon and rip it’s head clean off, only to leave its beheaded body behind, looking like a fallen member of the 18th century French nobility." Good grief! 🙃 Nature has its own ideas, always. But also: I do love this refuge, this monastic sky you are painting, my dear. 🧡

Expand full comment
author

Haha, I'm surprised you're the only person that mentioned that. I wrote it and wondered, is this too intense?! (I actually left out some detail, so be thankful!) But yes, nature is just doing nature. Love you being here in this funny little refuge ♥️ DF sends love

Expand full comment

love back xo

Expand full comment

"It’s been unseasonably cold here lately, and so we leave tiny bundles of sheep’s wool about the place for the smaller Birds to take and use as nest insulation—we are, after all, neighbours."

And so, in a few unassuming sentences, my friend tells you everything important about the shape of her soul.

Blessings, Chloe

Expand full comment
author

Love to you, David 🤍

Expand full comment
May 2Liked by Chloe Hope

“When the baby Wrens are born and they fledge, every beat of their miniature wings will be testament to the love and the energy that went into their coming into the world. Just as every beat of every wing, and every footstep ever taken, is.” Sigh. More and more, I find myself able to say less and less after reading you. Maybe silence is the next best thing to bird song. 🙏

Expand full comment
author

You are the most kind. And yes, I will take silence or birdsong, any day.

Expand full comment
Apr 28Liked by Chloe Hope

So I copied a few phrases down, wanting to point out the things that called out to me (which, as always, is essentially me just wanting to copy/paste the whole post back to you ;) ) but then my eyes alighted on this most beautiful piece of philosophy around death:

"Just as I know that as my heart took it’s very first beat, my Death was given birth to—it flowered somewhere in the future, where it now stands watching patiently, perhaps even lovingly, as I gradually move ever closer to it. As I move closer to it— I am the one enjoying the privilege of moving through spacetime. My Death is not walking towards me."

This should be part of everyone's self awareness and conscious experience.

Expand full comment
author

Nathan, you're very generous. Thank you. I really do enjoy the image of my Death, opening up and flowering, in unison with the tiny lightening bolt that started my miniature heart (perhaps more than I should, ha!)

Expand full comment

It can only be a good thing :)

Expand full comment
Apr 28Liked by Chloe Hope

Words that can only be born from feeling a beating heart in the palm of your hand. Touching a feathered wing.

Holding hands with a life.♥️

Expand full comment
author

♥️ hoping to hold hands all the way up to when it's time to let go ♥️

Expand full comment

I enjoy your writing, your thoughts, your perspective so much. This is probably my favourite publication. Thanks, Chloe.

Expand full comment
author

Mae, that is very, very lovely to hear. Thank you.

Expand full comment
Apr 29Liked by Chloe Hope

You speak of attempting an "active orientation towards the sacred" and immediately I am transported to the floor of my old duplex where I layed with and held vigil over my dying cat. He would be my first pet loss and he'd taken me through college, marriage, divorce, cross country moves... He was the constant amid my flux. I was terrified of how his death would go. He simply died. My hand on his side felt his leaving. His body felt heavier. More connected to gravity.

But he (Firas) had left. For some reason that I can't explain, it made me feel the most alive I'd ever felt. Touching his migration from here to...where? It was life affirming. It was sacred.

Expand full comment
author

Debi, thank you for sharing about the precious time you spent with Firas. That moment of transition might just be the most sacred of them all... I'm so glad it was life affirming for you.

Expand full comment

debi, yes. I had the same experience with my sweet little miss hissy, aka princess, aka muffy, I was so grateful to be present with her in that grace-filled moment of migration, thank you for this beautiful perfect description Firas what an awesome name

Expand full comment
Apr 28Liked by Chloe Hope

Oh, what a beautiful essay! Myriad worlds, myriad insights. Myriad deep mesnings, yearning love for that which is undefinable, endless journeys through light, through darkness, through bliss and sorrows. Life indomitable, death an illusion.

Expand full comment
author

And what a beautiful comment to accompany it, Michael! Thank you, so very much. Life indomitable, yes, yes...

Expand full comment

What a lovely find to discover this post, your voice is very soothing, thank you for sharing.

Expand full comment
author

Thank you, Susan. Grateful to have you here!

Expand full comment

Breath-taking. Breath-giving. Many bows to your powers of articulation that come from the depth of your connective visioning experience. I thirst. I drink your words. This thank you travels from the cavern within my chest all the way to the bottom of my feet. Yes. Long full sigh releases. Thank you.

Expand full comment
author

Oh, Paul, what a profoundly generous comment. My deep and sincerest thanks meets yours in kind.

Expand full comment

The medium of words -- so terminally awkward- -- yet so full of abundant messaging -- and flight. Kindness at both terminals creates the space of air that bears the wings to effortlessly glide. This is space of yours is such a matching gift.

Expand full comment

You call this bird a buzzard? That looks and sounds like a red tailed hawk to me. Buzzards are akin to vultures in my neck of the woods. Loved this line: “When I am present, I know that my invisible connection to all of life has existed for as long as I have.”

Expand full comment
author

We do, yes! I mentioned in the footnote that this is one of a few Birds who live both sides of the pond but have entirely different identities. Here a Buzzard, there a Vulture...🪶

Expand full comment

Hah! Yes I saw that. At any rate I’m sure the birds couldn’t care less. They’re too busy weaving the threads that embrace us all. Lovely post as always.

Expand full comment
Apr 28Liked by Chloe Hope

I love the wrens so much, and loved your description of their song, impossibly loud for their tiny brave bodies. Thank you for the smile and the reminder I’ll see them soon.

Expand full comment
author

The Wrens really are such a joy, aren't they? Thank you for reading!

Expand full comment
Apr 28Liked by Chloe Hope

"A cosmic web, ever growing. A unifying sense, or knowing. Something we (all beings) share, that gives us drive to hope, to dare ... " Oh the poetry in these lines! Thank you Chloe for the wake-up call.

Expand full comment
author

Sharron, I am very grateful to you for noticing that. Thank you, sincerely, my friend.

Expand full comment