Wednesday, January 6, 2010


It's a new year and, although unscientific, I've been combing my neighborhood searching for auspicious signs for a favorable year ahead. According to this definition I should be looking for birds:

1596 (implied in auspiciously), "of good omen," from L. auspicium "divination by observing the flight of birds," from auspex (gen. auspicis) "augur," lit. "one who takes signs from the flight of birds, "from *awi-spek- "observer of birds," from *awi- "bird" + *spek- "to see." connection between birds and omens also is in Gk. oionos "bird of prey, bird of omen, omen," and ornis "bird," which also could mean "omen...." 

Inspired by the eight auspicious signs of Buddhism—1) a conch shell, 2) a lotus, 3) a wheel 4) a parasol, 5) an endless knot, 6) a pair of golden fishes (shouldn't that be birds?), 7) a banner proclaiming victory, 8) a treasure vase— I have compiled eight auspicious signs that have to do with flight— birds and otherwise—for the new year. (Please keep in mind the futility of capturing small flying objects with a point and shoot camera):

1) Tiny migrating yellow birds in the backyard lemon tree

2) A gaggle of birds, both large and small, in the front yard birdbath

3) Dozens of bees rattling the agave plants (auspiciously good, since bees foretell favorable environmental conditions, i.e., more bees, less pollution):    

 A bee doing the moon walk

4) Two crows cackling overhead, sounding like ping pong balls bouncing off the canyon walls

 5) Tom flies to OK on Monday, zipping through security in 19 minutes. By coincidence it's 19 degrees in Tulsa when he arrives. Here's the extended forecast for Maya's arrival on Friday (brrrrr):

36/ 11°F


17/ 5°F
Partly Cloudy


16/ 3°F
Partly Cloudy


24/ 11°F


40/ 25°F
Partly Cloudy

6) Mekko packing for the DR (Dominican Republic) on Monday, not waiting until the last minute (only the last hour):

This picture of Mekko in his marigold bedroom reminds me of my favorite picture of my mother (l.) when she was young. Notice how they both face the camera with an easy grace. I took the other photo (r.) when I was an art student in Philadelphia many moons ago. My mother posed without complaint.

7) As for auspiciousness, I'm not sure this counts...well, let me stop here for a minute.
Ever since an ex-girlfriend of my brother's questioned me, I've been somewhat confused as to how some people (especially above mentioned ex-girlfriend) interpret the word "auspicious." We think of it as a favorable sign, a good omen, the stars aligned to bring good luck; but in certain circumstances, one might construe it to mean something else, something sinister, a foreboding sign. I imagine this happens when the "sign" in question is connected to an unwelcome memory/event, and thus, the good omen is taken for something bad. For instance, here at the Rat's Nest we're all relatively healthy and we hope to stay that way throughout the new year, but we know so many people who are not, which burdens us. I'm thinking now of my neighbor who was whisked away by ambulance on Monday.

But she's home today and feeling much better after needed medical intervention, so... was the ambulance parked in front of her house an auspicious sign, or something we don't want to think about in 2010?

8) And last but not least...
the best omen for the new year had nothing to do with flight, but with repetition, the second full moon of December, appearing at the height of the winter solstice. And even though Charles F. is still searching for the true meaning of 'blue moon,' I consider this an auspicious sign indeed.

2009 Blue Moon


  1. I thank you for this catalogue of auspiciousness. (is that a word?) blue moon is in and of itself auspicious. 19 degrees and 19 minutes also good, plus the moon walking bee, and Mekko in the marigold bedroom. I like how you draw in so many parts of your life into this investigation-- neighbors, home life, and we won't talk politics.

    here the snow drifts are high, the stars are bright, the sun is wan and the people are tiring of winter but I'm not!

    love, L

  2. Of all auspicious signs, I say with Twelfth Night's Viola: Prove true, Imagination, O prove true...".