ruffled feathers

It is the character of a brave and resolute man not to be ruffled by adversity
and not to desert his post.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

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(time for molting / a cardinal looking worse for the wear /Julie Cook / 2016)

Now is the time for the Faithful to be both brave and resolute…
for doubt and complacency have blanketed reality.

No longer do we know what is truth or fallacy…
As loud voices are vying for supremacy.

But we have been warned, long before now, that false prophets will abound.
There will be those who come and go offering promises that can’t be kept.
As we’ve been lulled into ignoring honesty

We’ve readily traded Truth for the satisfaction of self…
while the masses have not a clue.

There is neither time nor season to waste…
The stage is set, the events have begun,
yet everyone is too busy posing for the selfies of the egocentric.

Speak up you who hold the Faith.
Stand firm and hold your ground….
Because if you don’t, no one else will…
as all will have been for naught…

You don’t think so?
You don’t agree?
You don’t wish to be an alarmist?
You don’t want to appear intolerant, ignorant or uninformed…

Trouble is…
you don’t have the time to wait and wonder if…

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How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?

Proverbs 6:9

Flown the coop

“Those who have courage and faith shall never perish in misery”
Anne Frank

Amazement awaits us at every corner.
James Broughton

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(the house wren’s empty nest on the tractor, under the tarp / Julie Cook / 2016)

Amazing…
on so many different levels…
simply amazing…

Let’s take a small diversion from the current reign of havoc, or is that rain of havoc, or merely both….anywhooo….

Away from the havoc which has been beset upon us in these most recent of days..diverting ourselves away in which to wander…

Wandering away ever so slightly from that which is directly in front of our eyes…to that which is somewhat removed…
Blessedly and amazingly removed.

Yet, we must take note, it is to be no less, simply amazing.

And maybe since it is somewhat removed, tucked away and elusive in nature…
it is all of that, and so much more, which adds to the sheer amazingness of it all…

Let us now wander away to the world of the amazing…

On Sunday, 3 days ago, this empty jumble of leaves, with the giant hollowed out hole in the middle, was a dizzying beehive of activity.

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The stakes were high.
For there were five hungry mouthes which had to be fed.
We were all made keenly aware of this one important fact.
Life was suddenly all a flutter, literally.

Squawking and screeching two very busy parents hunted, pecked, chirped, sung, guarded, protected and fiercely chased away any friend or foe from the home of their 5 tiny offspring.

Not only had they labored to construct, dare we say craft, this amazing conglomeration of sticks,
leaves, feathers and fuzz…
they had selected a most safe, protected and hidden site in which to set up house.

Birds are amazing that way.

They worked tirelessly almost undetected…all but for the presence of a busy bee bird who could be seen darting, scurrying ad flitting here and there.
Eggs were silently laid and kept warm…unbeknownst to the unsuspecting nearby humans.

Yet all of that changed at hatching time.

Nonstop, two parents labored in order to gather enough food to raise up their alienesque brood.
Five oversized beaks flapped open, as 10 bulbous closed orbs protruding from wobbly heads,
continued to develop.

There would be silence…then as soon as a parent neared,
the inharmonic din of chatter began.
It was as if the sound translated into a clamoring repetitiveness of
“feed me, feed me, feed me…feed us… NOW”)

Then this past Sunday the nervous frenzy reached a crescendo.
As the tiny aliens mysteriously sprouted feathers as heads began to match bodies as wings took shape.
The parents were now worked into a fevered pitch as babies, turned fledglings, were soon to spread their wings. Mom and Dad were keen to create a safe zone, free of humans, cats and others
as their children would need some room to roam…safe yet free.

And just like that, it is…..now over.

“Did they fly away??” you pensively ask.

Well… I truthfully can’t say.

It’s as if one day they were there and the next day they just weren’t…

We’re they ready?

I’d like to think so.

As birds and their Divine Creator are each amazing that way….

The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing

Zephaniah 3:17

Haste

“Gentlemen, why in heaven’s name this haste?
You have time enough.
Ages and ages lie before you.
Why sacrifice the present to the future,
fancying that you will be happier when your fields teem with wealth and your cities with people?
In Europe we have cities wealthier and more populous than yours, and we are not happy.
You dream of your posterity;
but your posterity will look back to yours as the golden age, and envy those who first burst into this silent, splendid nature, who first lifted up their axes upon these tall trees,
and lined these waters with busy wharves.
Why, then, seek to complete in a few decades what the other nations of the world took thousands of years over in the older continents?
Why, in your hurry to subdue and utilize nature, squander her splendid gifts?
Why hasten the advent of that threatening day when the vacant spaces of the continent shall all have been filled, and the poverty or discontent of the older States shall find no outlet?
You have opportunities such as mankind has never had before,
and may never have again.
Your work is great and noble;
it is done for a future longer and vaster than our conceptions can embrace.
Why not make its outlines and beginnings worthy of these destinies,
the thought of which gilds your hopes and elevates your purposes?”

Lord James Bryce

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(Autumn in Cade Cove / Julie Cook / 2015)

Lord Bryce was the British Ambassador to the United States from 1907-1913.
He witnessed first hand the advent of the American Industrial Revolution.
A time of almost unchecked growth and development by an overtly zealous people.
The seemingly vast natural resources, which for a time appeared to be almost limitless, were in actuality, being gobbled up at an alarming rate.

Timber, land, crops and even animals were not to be spared during the boom of American growth and development.This was the time when the passenger pigeon, a bird that once numbered in the hundreds of thousands, was hunted to extinction. Buffalo were well on their way to the same fate as were thousands of ornately feathered birds of the Everglades which provided the plumage for the day’s high fashion of ladies hats.

If it was there, we felt it was ours for the taking.
Our appetites were ravenous as it became impossible to satiate our hunger.

Thankfully wise men such as John Muir, Stephen Mather and Theodore Roosevelt, to name but a few, saw the dangers of the Nation’s maddeningly rapid growth and appetite for all that it saw.
Lands which were directly in harm’s way began being designated as National Parks.
Animals that were on the verge of eradication were granted protection.
Laws were enacted to put the brakes on our quest of all that was in sight.

Yet it seems as if Lord Bryce’s observation is as telling today as it was over one hundred years ago.
As we are continuing to sacrifice the present for the future.

The photo above is an image of Cades Cove taken last fall.
Cades Cove is one of my most favorite places…yet I am not alone in my love of the Park.

The Cove, as it is so lovingly referred to, is an area of great historical as well as environmental significance within The Great Smokey National Park. Located just outside of Townsend, Tennessee, it boasts being on the “quiet side of the Smokies” as it rests in the shadow of the mega busy and ultra touristy Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Yet it is said that the 11 mile one way loop within Cades Cove is one of the most heavily visited sections of the National Park—more so than that of any of the other great parks.

An estimated 2 million people visit the Cove annually (with an estimated 9 million visiting The Great Smokey Mountains Park as a whole) with the heaviest onslaught being late Spring through mid Fall.
With 2 million annual visitors, how many cars do you imagine drive that 11 mile loop?
If you have ever been caught in the often 3 to 4 hour traffic jam nightmare of too many cars trying to make an 11 mile loop at once, then you know it is far too many.

But the question of what to do with all those cars and all those tourists has plagued Park officials and Government leaders for years. The Park, the Cove in particular, is one of the heaviest air polluted parks in the country…

What to do will all those cars and all those people is indeed vexing.

It should be noted that this sort of problem is not indicative only to the Great Smokey Mountains alone…

Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Crater Lake, the Everglades… these parks know all too well the repercussions from the growing onslaught of tourism—the true love / hate relationship of our national parks.
Yet these areas, these lands, these parks with their vistas, wildflowers, snowcapped peaks, their crystal blue lakes, their truly wild animals and their wide open spaces are our legacies to ourselves…they are our reminders of what this country was in its rawest form. They are our gifts to ourselves…yet it appears, for better or for worse, we very much enjoy these gifts…maybe if not a bit too much…

So yes, we are indeed a hungry people as we continue living our lives in great haste…
With this being the 100th year of the National Park Service, we are aptly reminded that we have a handful of precious gifts scattered throughout this great land of ours which are in desperate need or our thoughtful care and consideration.
In our often zealous nature, we sometimes have a tendency to love a good thing to death…

In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world –
the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.
The galling harness of civilization drops off,
and wounds heal ere we are aware.

John Muir

Don’t ask

The very idea of a bird is a symbol and a suggestion to the poet. A bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense his life. . . . The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds — how many human aspirations are realised in their free, holiday-lives — and how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song!
John Burroughs, Birds and Poets, 1887

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(mourning doves / Julie Cook / 2015)

Just as with some people we see, the advice holds true with certain animals and birds. . .
sometimes it’s better not to ask but to merely go on about one’s business. . .shaking a head as you go is certainly permissible.

Luckily however these two mourning doves weren’t up to any funny business, I just happened to snap the camera in mid ruffling of feather and wing.

I do so greatly enjoy watching these birds, along with the bevy of fellow winged creatures who call my yard home. There’s just something blissfuly cathartic about spending time, merely observing the fastidious behavior of these feathery neighbors. Whereas the doves are not prone to fly up to the feeders as the other birds, rather preferring to graze about the ground underneath the feeders gobbling up any seed or corn that is carelessly dropped, their waddling and jutting of their heads is often a comical sight.

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I was not aware of the rather peculiar phenomenon of doves, as well as pigeons, of actually producing their own milk. It is a milk of sorts produced in their crops known simply as crop milk. Just prior to the laying of eggs, the female dove stops eating, setting into motion a chain of physiological events trigged by the body reacting to the panic of starvation. This being the time when the body produces the milk, which in turn is what the mother dove feeds her new hatchlings.

It is because of this peculiar maternal sacrifice which has forever linked the dove as being a symbol of motherhood and all to that which is maternal.
Who knew!!??

And as to our Mourning doves earning their rather sombre and reverent name,
we may merely look to the Roman poet Virgil.
Taken from one of his early eclogues and quoted here from wikipedia, we have one of the earliest references to the humble dove and to its most mournful sound.

“Its plaintive woo-OO-oo-oo-oo call gives the bird its name, possibly taken from Virgil’s First Eclogue, (lines 57-59 translated from the Latin as follows):

“Yonder, beneath the high rock, the pruner shall sing to the breezes,
Nor meanwhile shall thy heart’s delight, the hoarse wood-pigeons,
Nor the turtle-dove cease to mourn from aerial elm trees (nec gemere aeria cessabit turtur ab ulmo)
Here the Latin verb gemo, gemere, gemui, gemitum signifies “to sigh, groan; to coo; to sigh or groan over, lament, bemoan”

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Woven, yet freaking me out just a bit

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
Chief Seattle

The only faith that wears well and holds its color in all weathers is that which is woven of conviction and set with the sharp mordant of experience.

James Russell Lowell

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(image taken last April while out in the yard / Julie Cook / 2013)

Okay, I’ve written about this before.
Simple fact number 1—
I can’t stand spiders.

Yeah, I get it, you’re tying to tell me how beneficial they can be. . .they’re great out in the yard. . .they eat other bugs. . .yada, yada, yada. . .
You think good and I think black widows, brown recluse. . .you get the picture.

Lest I remind you that a couple of years ago, while at school, I was sitting at my desk in my office during my planning block— I turned around in my chair, reaching for something in the filing cabinet, suddenly sensing a bit of movement just out of the corner of my eye. .
Do you have any idea how large things can grow in a 51 year old school building which has dust bunnies as big as, well, real rabbits?!

Slowly and quite controlled, a couple of legs, yep, I said a couple,—long spindly legs, more like large antenna, come creeping out from the corner of the filing cabinet.
“OH DEAR GOD!!!” is the immediate scream in my head.

Very cautiously I ease myself up from my chair, leaning over as far as I dare, making certain I’m not seeing things.
“OH DEAR GOD AAAAGGGGGHHHHHH”

This time– the in my head scream is now quite audible.
I run out of the office, out into the empty hall.
I scan left, then right. . .
“S – P – I – D – E – R ”
The word haltingly spills from out of my mouth as I search in vain for a passerby. However, this is 2nd block, no one from the neighboring classrooms are on planning and no one is in the hall—just what an administrator dreams for. . . an empty hall— a panicked individual wants / needs people.

No matter.

I boldly open the door to the math teacher’s room across the hall, interrupting Algebra I (I never did understand the big deal about Algebra anyway, but my disdain for math is for another day), I calmly ask if I could please speak with the teacher out in the hall.
All 35 sets of eyes sense something serious was taking place as my eyes were as big a saucers, my teeth were clenched and I’m certain those on the front row could see the sweat beading on my forehead. . .

My friend and colleague steps out into the hall with me, closing the classroom door behind him. I’m sure he must have thought the worst considering my hands were shaking.
“s – p – i – d – e – r” barley lifts from my voice. By now I think I must be very pale as I think I may faint.

“What?!” my friend asks most concerned.
SPIDER” I now mange to pull the word out of my mouth.

Long story short, my friend, who I suddenly deemed mad and daft, proceeds to march into my office, grabbing the nearest ruler he can find.
“What are you doing?” I stammer, “Measuring it?!”
To my dismay, he gently coaxes the spider, web and all, out of the tight corner and proceeds to make his way outside to “save” it.
The spider is a wolf spider and is as big as a freaking golf ball!

“ARE YOU CRAZY?!” I scream.
“KILL IT!!!!”
By now, my former friend and colleague, has done his good deed by releasing, back into the wilds, a giant spider who I imagine was chomping at the bit to get back inside and back into his cubby spot in my office. . .

I tell you all of this as I am in a state of potentially freaking out as I type.

Breathe in, exhale, repeat. . .
Ok, here goes the real story. . .

A couple of months back, Michael, over on michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com, wrote a tale concerning his son as a little boy. Michael recalled how his son had found an abandoned bird’s nest out in a bush bringing it in to the house. He kept his prize find in his room. Long story short, as the nest warmed in the house, the eggs of hundreds of baby praying mantis sprung into action—all over his son’s room.
Michael’s moral to the story was to always spray anything such as a nest, etc, for insects, otherwise an unwelcome infestation could be, literally, hatching.

I’ve picked up nests for years, as well as feathers, the occasional animal bone, shaded deer antler, etc, during my escapades out in the woods. I use to keep these things in my classroom as they made for wonderful artistic subject matter. I never worried about bugs as they all looked perfectly fine to me and I had never had an incident. . .until. . .

I like to think I keep a rather clean house. Being pretty particular as to tidiness, order as well as cleanliness. Now let’s remember that I was out of town for a few days recently. I naturally cleaned the house quite thoroughly before departing on the trip, as I have this fear that if, let’s say, something, God forbid, were to happen while I’m away and I don’t, er, come back, and my house had been left a mess—- People would come into my house thinking, “Oh my gosh Julie was such a slob.”
No, I won’t have that.
If people have to come into my house, should something unfortunate transpire during a time away, then they may remark “my goodness, what an immaculate house Julie has, imagine that, she has two cats and it looks and smells amazing. . .” I digress.
You get the picture.

So the other evening, once we finally arrived home from our very long day of flying and driving, I immediately plopped down on the couch– having been too tired to unpack–I simply plunked down the bags as soon as we walked in the door.
Sitting down, basking in the fact that I was no longer in some sort of perpetual motion, I notice, at the far end of the couch just by the lamp on the table, what appeared to be about three tiny little gnats of sorts or perhaps it was merely a piece of fuzz suspended from the lamp shade.

Mental note, “check out that lamp and dust that table tomorrow.”
I get up, dragging myself down the hall to take a shower before hitting the hay, when I feel like I just walked into the strand of a cobweb. Ugh. “Is the dust that bad on the door jam” I wonder.
Another mental note to self–dust door jams tomorrow.

The following morning, as the sun rose and I was now prepared to unpack and re-clean an already clean house, I spy what I thought to have been the fuzz the night before.
Horrors!
It’s some sort of little web with some tiny baby spiders.
OH DEAR GOD!
Upon further investigation, that cobweb dust business in the hall was actually a web, the entire banister was sheeted with a fine mesh web with hundreds of baby spiders

AAAAGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I am living the Twilight Zone—OH DEAR GOD!!!

This story could go on for days, but let’s wrap this up shall we because this is all creeping me out just reliving the nightmare. I saw that horrible B movie from the 60’s— you know the one—- the story of the giant spider that lived in a cave wrapping people up in a cocoon type web sucking out their blood. There are reasons why children should never see certain things and may it be known that a 1960’s B movie can , does leave lasting scars.

My we just say that I have since attacked the house– with the target area being where I first saw this initial massive spider nursery.
I’ve vacuumed, dusted, wiped everything down with poison, yes poision—the more the better—I might die from cancer due do the absorption of poison into my system as I’ve wiped down banisters, door jams, lamp shades, but by God, there will be no spiders within 100 miles.

In my sheer state of panic, my mind wandered to the question. . .
“Where in the heck did these things come from?
Is there some sort of giant spider mother living in my attic waiting to wrap me in a cocoon as I sleep, poised to suck out my blood?!”
—when it dawned on me. . .
The basket.
The basket under the antique secretary in the hallway.
What is in that freaking basket?!”

I get down on my hands and knees pulling out the basket. I note some more of that sheer webbing and a few more of the hundreds of the freaking spider babies.
Poison, quick, where’s the poison?!

The basket holds a few of my treasures from my adventures in the woods. The turkey, hawk and owl feathers, the shed antlers I’ve found, even a few intact skulls of a raccoon, an armadillo, and even a small deer complete with horns—my treasures from my time spent wandering in the woods. I always bring them home, leaving them outside for a few days checking for any sort of stow away creature. Perhaps the temperatures having been so cold, caused any and all life to lie dormant—just waiting for me to bring it in to the incubator, aka, my house.

Update: The basket, complete with woodland treasures, is currently sitting outside, sprayed down heavily with poison. The house is re-dusted, poisoned, vacuumed, re-dusted some more, re-poisoned and vacuumed again. I now sit nervously on the couch, eyes constantly scanning the horizon, as if I am on the ready for the hidden enemy, finger poised on the trigger, of poison that is—-I have declared WAR on spider babies and spider mothers, and spider fathers. . . arachnids, be warned!

Chickens, Appearances and bums…yes, bums…

People that seem so glorious are all show; underneath they are like everyone else.
Euripides

Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.
Saint Augustine

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***ok so yesterday’s pilgrimage did not go so well– perhaps it was more like a disaster. You, we, I don’t want to talk about that today— let’s swing toward something a bit more, uplifting, shall we. . .we’ll talk about the disastrous pilgrimage later, once we recoup and attempt to regroup. On to better things, or maybe, in this case, not exactly better. . .*****

Do you suppose the other chickens get a bit jealous of those chickens in the coop with the prettier feathers, the fancier combs, the fluffier feet or the more garish head feathers? Do the more showy chickens somehow perceive that they are prettier than their coop mates? Do the other chickens who are not as festive, not a pretty, gravitate to the more fancy chickens, wanting to rub wings as it were, with these more glamorous birds?

I think we can be safe in assuming that a chicken is a chicken is a chicken—regardless of the extra fluff and puff. They all scratch, cluck, eat, poop, sleep, and the layers lay and the others, well, they wait to star in Sunday’s Supper.

With all of this chicken business racing through my mind, I am attempting to take stock of what I see staring back at me in the mirror.
Hummmm. . .
Maybe the chickens are looking a little more puffy and preened than what it is that I’m seeing in this mirror.
Geesss. . .
I don’t think February is a good time of year to study one’s physique in a large mirror– this while a pasty white overtly dry body stares back.

So there is this wedding thingie I’ve been alluding to, on and off for a while now. As in I’m the mother of the groom. . . in just a mere 4 months.
Hummm.
My husband walks into the bathroom while I’m precariously perched on the side of the tub turned around backwards with a mirror in one hand while trying to see over my shoulder as to what in the heck is the view from behind, as in my behind.

“What in the world are you doing?? Have you lost your mind? You’re going to break your neck!”
“Look at that” I exclaim!
“Look at what?” mr. gallant asks.
“Look at that, something’s wrong, it’s, it’s not symmetrical”
“What do you mean it’s not symmetrical?
This as he heads to the closest to gather whatever it is he came to gather when he walked in on my moment of taking stock.
“My, uh my, uh,uh, my butt, look at the right side, it’s like part of it has lost it’s “umph” and gave way”
“Maybe I need to go to see a doctor. . . maybe it’s some sort of mass or lump blocking the view of my butt”
“Are you crazy” mr. gallant smirks from the closet, eventually coming out to where I remain perched on the side of the tub, mirror in hand, head cocked around almost backwards, like an owl, peering over the shoulder.
“You don’t need to see a doctor, you’re perfectly fine. You’ve just gotten older and things just— fall.”
“WHAT!!!!!”
“Did you just say I’m old and that my butt fell?!
“No”
“Yes, you just said that I’m old and that my butt fell because I’m old”
“No, that is not what I said” as I note the slight curl upwards around the corners of his mouth.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe you just called me old and fat”
“I did not call you old and I never said fat”
“Look, all I’m saying is that age has a way of shifting things around”
This as mr. gallant makes a very poor attempt at logic.
A woman standing on the side of bathtub, taking stock of a pasty white dry aging body, is in no mood for logic!

“You may speak for yourself, thank you very much” I smugly retort.
This as I’m debating whether to say something about a delicate subject. . .about seeing more head than hair. . .when suddenly mr. gallant spouts out his now marvelous thought of a solution.
“I’ve got just what you need—
Duct tape!”
“What?!”
“We’ll just tape things back into place. . . you’ll be good as new!”

May I just say that he is very very lucky that he is still walking around with all appendages in tact.
Duct tape. . .I mean really.

Hear my cries. . .is my time on that blasted elliptical all in vain?!
“Where are the results?” I seem to constantly scream as I step from the scales.
Maybe it’s the elliptical’s fault my butt fell off in the first place. And anyway, who’s bum looks as if its fallen off in the first place?
How do I tell the doctor I think something is wrong with my behind? How do I tell her it looks like part of it just gave way, sort of like some sort of mini avalanche. . .hummm. . . .

30 minutes every morning on the elliptical.
Check.
Incline on.
Check.
Level 15, one of the more difficult levels.
Check.
Cardio workout.
Check
up, down, up down . . .all to a very swift pace.
This while my “workout music” echoes throughout the basement.

Next, it’s time for the protein smoothie– every morning.
Who says spinach and ground flax seed doesn’t mix with cranberries, strawberries, frozen cherries and peaches?
Add a scoop of protein powder, a little coconut milk, voila.
When did I start drinking coconut milk?!
Just like a milkshake. . . a brown throw-up looking milkshake. . .mmmmm. . . good, I think.
No bread, no sweets, no butter. . .
Ah ha!!
That’s it!!
This is all Julia’s fault!
Julia?
Yes, Julia.
And no, not me Julia, Julia Child, Julia!!
Julia and that blasted affinity of butter and cream of hers!!!
Julia could carry a love of fat on that 6 foot frame of hers and get away with it—- at 5’3″ (it was 5’4.5″ but then the osteoporosis kicked in. . .let’s not talk about that) I sadly cannot!
UGH. . .

We took our son and his fiancé out to dinner the other evening.
“So”, Abby begins, “Did you find the workout song you were wanting?”
“Oh yes! I first start out with a little U2, switching then to Bruno Mars. . .”
“MOTHER, you listen to Bruno Mars!?
I suddenly feel the eyes rolling.
“Yes Brenton.” I continue. ..
“Perfect music, with a great beat, for working out.”
“Oh, and I also like that Macklemore group, that’s great music with a beat to huff and puff to.”
“WHAT! Mother when did you start listening to Macklemore?”
I feel the eyes rolling again.
“When I started working out” I triumphantly reply over my shoulder to the back seat that holds my incredulous son whose eyes are now popping out of his head.

And so it goes.
No support from the males in my house.
One wants to duct tape me and the other one wants to sensor me.
GREAT!
My aunt is always exclaiming “it’s hell getting old”
So yes, whereas it may be hell getting older, all I know it that I’m going to give it hell right back! Plus demand the return of my, uh, derrière!!

I may be pasty white, a little out of shape and no longer symmetrical, but come June, I will be a lean mean fighting machine marching down an aisle!!

To be a part of the silence

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”
―Robert Lynd

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(a nuthatch sitting in typical fashion, facing downward in an oak tree in Julie’s yard / 2014)

The leaves are long gone. The yard barren of color and seemingly void of any life or activity. As I canvas what was, only thinking and hoping of what will be, I am startled by a slight movement along the limbs of a lone stately oak tree.

Upon further inspection I spy a lone little nuthatch. A most spry and hardy little bird.
As I pull my coat a bit tighter, to ward off the blowing January wind, I am mesmerized watching this small bundle of blue grey and white energy hopping up and down the limbs of the stately oak.

Out of all the vast array of birds which call my yard home or hotel, I have always been partial to the tiny nuthatch. Not a showy bird nor loud, the nuthatch merely goes about its business, albeit, a bit upside down, with a relentless tenacity. Maybe that’s why I enjoy watching this bird so much as it scoots up and down trees usually pointed downward, peeping and grunting to itself—something akin to a tiny woodpecker, poking and prodding along the tree bark.

How comforting it is knowing that just when it appears as if life has all but stopped in this vast yard, there is a tiny glimpse of activity reminding all who are observant that life, despite the bitter cold and wet, the dormant buds and roots, the monochromatic tones of a seemingly barren landscape, continues with a steadfast determination.

This gloomy winter full of grey skies, cold wind and sleeping vegetation is made a little brighter and a bit more bearable because there remains a few hearty creatures that carry on, continuing life as if there is no change, no difference. The nuthatch doesn’t notice that the leaves are gone, the skies are dull or the air cold.

As I stand alone amidst the empty cold landscape, drawn into myself by this lingering melancholy of winter, I am gratefully rewarded, after my silent observation, that life is not on hold, the world has not stopped. Winter may be laying hold of all that surrounds me yet I am pleasantly reminded that all is not lost nor gone—For there is joy hopping among the empty limbs of the massive winter sentinels of the yard–a busyness of energy remains, all is not dormant nor still–as witnessed by a small bundle of blue grey and white feathers.