Monday, April 16, 2012

Bird Watching, the Best Therapy

I often think if I have to come back again, and live another life, and another and another, to try and get it right, please God, let me come back as a bird! How lovely to fly above everything, to drift along on invisible currents, changing direction with the merest tilt of a feather. I could fly to the tops of the tallest trees and have a ringside seat every evening for the setting of the sun.

There's a lake a stone's throw from the house and I've been going over there evenings, an hour before sunset, with my camera, to spy on the birds.

On good days I'll see several kinds of wading birds.  Sometimes they're difficult to spot, standing so still, listening so intently......But this evening I met a very lively fellow.

 He hardly stopped moving the entire half hour or so that I watched him. He danced and skipped around in the water with what I can only describe as exuberance, at being alive, and having so many tasty morsels, right there for the catching.....

 Want to learn how to focus and "live in the moment"? Watch the birds!

Forget television, and the pesky procedure of pushing this button, and that, in some ritualized sequence that makes no sense to me. When I need entertainment I grab my camera and walk to the lake. Three minutes on foot and a different performance every evening!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Beaches and Sunshine....and Things that Slither

We went for a walk in the Wildlife Preserve a couple of weekends ago when the OC was home for a few days, and found this fellow, sunning himself along the side of the trail.......I kept my distance as the OC thought he might be a water moccassin.  I had no desire to have a close encounter with a snake of any kind, especially not a poisonous one. We were enjoying the beautiful afternoon and he was too. I was not always so chill about snakes, and I am chill now only by comparison to how I used to be. Our older boys loved snakes and begged to be allowed to have one as a pet. But if that had happened I'd have had to move out.....and they needed a mother more than they needed a pet snake.

Then along came The Bean. From the time he learned to walk he loved anything that ran on four legs, or swam, or flew.........

Or slithered.

Some day I'll have to write about Lauren, the little mouse he brought in from the garden and made a nest for in his room....When he brought home long strings of frog eggs in a bucket I was, at the same time, repelled and fascinated. Because of his persistence I gradually lost [some] of my heebie jeebies and could [to a limited extent] appreciate the wonders of the reptile world. In kindergarten he was an authority on dinosaurs. In middle school he had a subscription to Reptile magazine. The child who wasn't interested in reading stories devoured every word, every month, of that magazine.

Since I had my camera with me I couldn't resist taking a few pictures, brave only because there was a rescuer at hand, should things turn ugly! When we showed the photos to The Bean he confirmed the OC's suspicions. Since this is Florida, and the snakes and the gators were here thousands of years before we moved here, I figure I can be generous, I can share. Live and let live....

Except when I walk out to the patio and find one of their kind in my space! As happened this morning. I headed out the door, crossed the deck and reached to open the pool cage door. Something at the base of the door moved, slithered in fact!

I moved too---three feet, straight up into the air. Didn't know my old knees had it in them! When I landed I very gingerly opened the door to let him out, but he didn't appreciate my kind gesture and started rattling his tail at me. Neither of us was happy at this point. Heart in mouth, I decided I needed a broom to nudge him in the right direction.

 The door was right there, wide open, but we had a merry dance before he twigged it and raced off  into the grass. [Mental note: don't walk barefoot in the grass!] He was just a black racer, nothing dangerous, but still, not welcome that close to the house!

You'd think that was enough excitement for one day....but there was more. After watering some plants outside, I was coming back into the house when I heard a rustling sound from the back corner of the garage where I had thought there was nothing but inanimate objects. Something is alive back there and I'm too spooked, with snakes so recently on my mind, to investigate alone. I'm also not confident that I could move with the alacrity that might be required........It's the weekend though and The Bean should be home this evening................In the meantime I'll be watching my step. Stay tuned!

Note: You'd think that if Zoombrowser is going to put the date on my photos it could at least get it right!

"It was a dark and stormy night....."

A blizzard in fact. Almost nine months pregnant, I had protested loudly  "No no no! Not now! Don't go!"  He assured me he'd be back before the baby came. Whatever wild hair made him decide that now was a good time to go to California to pick up the sporty little car he had left there with friends when we had moved to Montana was beyond my capacity to comprehend.

And now it was the 8th.of April, my due date, and our hero was headed home, somewhere between California and Montana....

In the dark....

In a blizzard....Stop for a little bad weather? Nonsense! He was a man, not a pansy! Real men stick their heads out the window if they can't see through the windshield....and keep going.

And he had been right. There was no baby yet. Even before he was born, our Chuk E Boy was a gentleman.

I waddled from door to window to kitchen to bedroom.....No matter what they say about tall women carrying better, at nine months you're a duck, lacking only the quack. Where was he? Shouldn't he be home by now?

I dozed off for a while, then woke with a start. The garage door? Surely I'd heard it opening? I peered out the window but all was dark, nobody there. Then the phone rang.

It was a nurse at the hospital. In a gentle, soothing voice she told me I shouldn't panic, they had my husband, he'd had an accident, but he was going to be alright.

I have no idea how I got to the hospital.....Did I drive? Did someone else drive me? What did I do with Lily? She was two and a half at the time. I know I didn't leave her alone. I must have taken her to a neighbour.....

I only remember waddling through the hospital entrance,  and seeing the OC being wheeled somewhere on a stretcher. He had bits of glass sticking out of his face. He didn't look his best.

He had gone off the highway in the middle of nowhere, with zero visibility, in the blizzard. Still driving when any sane person would have pulled off somewhere and waited it out. Probably read too many superhero comic books as a child.

On the 12th. April I woke up at 6:30 the realization that Oh boy! I was in labour! And how. It had been moving along quietly while I slept and now it was getting serious. The plan was to call our friend, Tom, to come and get me, since the OC had broken a few toes which were now held together with steel pins and plaster of Paris, rendering driving impossible, not to mention unwise. Tom 's wife was also due around the same time so this was a practice run for him. It was a bumpy and wild ride to the hospital with contractions coming close together and poor Tom, who was a Montana boy, born and bred, who only took off his cowboy hat and cowboy boots to sleep, and had doubtless seen plenty of calves born, begging me to hold on; he didn't want to deliver any babies in his old rattletrap of a car and could I please just wait a few more minutes....

At the hospital it seemed to me the most comfortable place to be was on all fours, on the floor, dignity be damned.  The nurses were having none of that though, all bustle and business and deaf to my pleas. They were determined that no babies would be born on floors, no matter how comfortable it was down there for mothers.

At around 7:30 a.m.the doctor announced that we had a beautiful baby boy. A little brother for Lily. I remember the euphoria, and sunshine streaming in the window and the mountains visible off on the horizon.....Believe it or not, there was a window in the delivery room, open to let in the sunshine and the view of the mountains ---only in Montana!

Since then there have been thirty seven April 12ths.and lots of water under the bridge.

It was often said of my dad that "He was one of Nature's Gentlemen."  Is it too outlandish to imagine that one's son could be the reincarnation of one's father? He certainly is also "one of Nature's Gentlemen." My dad died on April 8th [my due date] the year before this son was born....

Food for thought or at least speculation!  Happy Birthday Chuk E Boy!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Ambushed by Contentment

It was not your traditional Easter here. With such a skeleton crew, it's difficult to get worked up about it. The Bean was home. Turned a quarter century very quietly yesterday.

Spent some time talking to siblings by phone, but, funnily enough, showed no interest in hunting for eggs on Easter morning! Not like when he and his brothers and sisters were little, and sleep deprivation was the order of the day, and still they'd come bouncing into our bed before dawn, all excited to start the hunt. "It's the middle of the night go back to bed there's a good child come back in the morning when your mother's not in a coma from staying up late hiding painted eggs and organizing Easter baskets" fell on deaf ears, and, awake or not, the hunt was on. What fun we had! But in your twenties? Not that interested....Unless you have little people of your own, then the craziness starts all over, but we're in no hurry to go there. It was nice to sleep 'til we woke.

Even though it would have been nice to have everyone here, I was happy knowing that Oldest Son and the OC were getting together up north, closing the five hour driving gap to spend the weekend together.

And, Joy of Joys, Sister-in-law has reluctantly left her house and beloved garden up north and returned to play nursemaid to the Prince. He could hardly wait for her to get here but started arguing with her before she had her suitcase unpacked! We'll see how long she can last this time..... Meanwhile, respite for moi!

The Bean took himself off to hit little white balls for the afternoon leaving me on an island of blissful tranquility---several uninterrupted hours to sit outside, sipping my lemon water, immersed in my book---The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Marukami which Oldest Son and I are reading together, comparing notes as we go. So far, very interesting. [Yes, Birdy, this is for you!]

Meanwhile a fat little red bird [a cardinal, I think] was chirping persistently and noisily in one of the pine trees with the low, throaty coo of doves as his backup....

Between chapters I paused to fill my lungs with the intoxicating perfume of the confederate jasmine that is indulging in some riotous living at the moment, unhampered by the pruning it so desperately needs.

A different, but equally intoxicating aroma wafted out from the kitchen----the aroma of roasting lamb with overtones of garlic and herbs..... 

As the sun sank lower, throwing exaggerated tree shadows across the grass, I felt peaceful and contented. It's a feeling that sneaks up when you're least expecting it. Petty worries and nagging aggravations just melt off into the trees for a while, letting you enjoy this moment. Now.

All in all, a lovely day. I hope you all had one just as lovely.