Old Friends

If I hand a blog, today I would write about the comforting presence of some especially dear friends.

Things are quieting down in the woods these days. The joyful chaos of the fall migration is, for the most part, over and my birdwatching has become less about adding to my life-list and more about greeting old friends. As the autumn passes and the riot of color fades, a sense of peace settles over the woods and fields as our winter residents settle into their regular routines.

White-Throated Sparrow

White-Throated Sparrow

Along the path to the river, the white-throated sparrows have settled en masse among the pasture roses, their dark forms dipping in and out of shadow as they dine on rose-hips the color of autumn apples. As they go about their day, they sing their winter-song, a shortened version of their lyrical mating call, and it is music to my ears.

Junco in the Sun

Junco in the Sun

The juncos are working in the tall grass along the lane these days, erupting skyward in a flash of slate gray and white when they sense my presence. Later in the season, when they know me better, they will linger in my presence, but for now, they are wary, unsure if I am friend or foe.

Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadee

On woodland walks, my companions are the chickadees and titmice. These are the bravest and ckeekiest of birds, daring to land on branches just a few feet above my head as they sing their familiar songs. I always feel as though they remember me and are just keeping their distance to maintain their standing among their avian colleagues.

There is a lot to be said for the new, the unusual, and the exciting, but more often than not, my soul needs the familiar, the known, and the comforting. In a world where little is certain, the cycles of the natural world give me peace. As long as I can rely on the turning of the year, the rising and setting of the sun, and the return of my feathered friends, I have hope that I can weather whatever storms may come.

Day of Sloth

If I had a blog, I would write about my Day of Sloth.

Lazy Summer Days

Lazy Summer Days

Last week, my ten year-old niece, Anna, was here. She and I are soulmates in every sense of the word, so her visits are more about two old friends catching up than me babysitting my niece. We rode horses, went rock-hunting, swam in the river, did chores together, and talked, talked, talked. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, but since I’m an amateur in the world of child-care, I find myself more than a little tired now that Anna has gone home. After a week of go,go,go, I restore my energy by treating myself to  a day of complete self-indulgence, which I call my Day of Sloth.

Technically, the word “sloth” refers to one of the Seven Deadly Sins (or to a charming, if slow-moving, South American mammal), but I figure I can afford a single day’s dalliance without risking my mortal soul or having moss grow on my my furry back, so yesterday I did a whole lot of nothing.

My day started with coffee and toaster waffles. I lingered at the table, enjoying the news on NPR. After a short run to town for groceries, I settled in on the couch and started “Castle Fest.” I love the TV series Castle and I have all five seasons on DVD, so my afternoon was set. I had an ice cream cone for lunch, followed by a peanut-butter-on-a-spoon chaser. I curled up with my full-body fuzzy-pillow and let nature take its course. I napped, and watched, and even did a little sketching. Even the weather conspired to give me a break from the labor of chores. It was cool and cloudy, so I let the horses stay out on pasture. They felt a little disenfranchised, but none of them are at risk of starving and it gave my back a chance to rest from cleaning stalls, lugging hay, and spreading sawdust. All I had to do was care for The Chick and The Duck and gather eggs from the Lady Hens. I could feel the cells in my body regenerating by the minute.

The icing on the cake, so to speak, was watching a good movie with my brother and sister-in-law. We had coffee, ice cream, and cherry turnovers at intermission, and a little wine to cap off the evening. Sitting in the cozy living room with David and Kindra, surrounded by our three big dogs, sharing a rare moment without to-do lists or deadlines, I felt utterly restored. I think a little sloth is good for the soul.