The following are a bunch of ramblings I’d posted on my old website…I’m slightly attached, so was reluctant to trash ’em. Hope you enjoy.
March 2, 2011
I said goodbye to Winter yesterday. I know, it’s not officially Spring yet, but the fact that most of the snow is gone and the marsh is running high with melt, I thought a farewell was in order. In fact, the water was running so high, neither the dogs nor I could cross over the culvert and get into the woods. So I stood there at its edge, left to appreciate the sound of the rushing water as it passed around the trees and under the patches of ice that hung onto whatever it could. I was treated to the songs of cardinals, titmice, blue jays, chickadees, and the nasally peep of a nuthatch while the dogs nosed about, taking in the new smells that the bare ground offered. Seasons change, but the birdsong always stays around. Its type and pitch vary with the species, but it’s rarely not present. I may not be able to actually hear it, but I do know that some place in my woods, some bird is singing.
My mind started wandering, as it often does when I’m outside. I thought about friends and relatives, past and present. Well, let’s put it this way… relatives past (I don’t associate with any family other than my partners). My Gram tickles my brain a lot. Although she’s been gone for over 15 years, I still miss her every day. But like all people have a tendency to do, they leave one way or another. I still cherish my fond memories of her. I often hear her voice in my head. She remains a deep seeded part of me.
Friends… what an interesting group. The people that reside within that world are a sordid lot. Some drive me nuts, many make me laugh, some are good at giving advice, some are just a pain in the ass – but I still call them my friends. There are two houses of friends: “for now friends,” and “forever friends.” A greater force than I could possibly hypothesize, brings the “for now friend” into my life. What their spiritual purpose is, I don’t know. But they’re here now. To touch me somehow, be it emotionally or even physically. The extent of their stay is questionable, but I’ll treasure them for the duration. It’s up to this crazy universe to delegate whether they will move to the “forever friend” house or move on to touch some other fortunate soul. Some do. Some don’t. I’ve had many “for now friends,” and although they’re not in my life anymore, they still reside in my memories and for that I thank them wherever they are.
The “forever friends” are an interesting group. They’re in it for the long haul. Through thick and thin. For better or worse. Almost like marriage, right? These are the people who, no matter what the distance, have always been there for me, ready to pick up the phone, send an email, or even travel long distances to be at my side. If I’m lucky enough to have them physically close, the emotional aura is incredible. The bonding, the hugs, laughter, tears, glue and duct tape are the binding forces for a “forever friend.” It’s hard not to get used to having a “forever friend” within arm’s length. It’s even harder to get used to them being farther away. Especially when the distance is measured in miles or even days until I can see them again. Yeah, it’s hard not to be frustrated. But the fact is, a friend like that embeds themselves so deep into my heart, mind, and soul, I know they’ll never truly leave.
Like the ever-present birdsong. Although I can’t physically see my friend, I know she’s there, making her own music for me to hear again someday.
January 27, 2011
Three inches of newly fallen snow muffled the creaking of my snowshoes. The woods were peaceful and not even the wind above penetrated the silence. Snowflakes danced in the air around me, and then gently floated to the ground. The snow clouds above were steel gray, releasing their white spawn at will. I welcomed the cold as it entered my lungs, made my eyes tear and redden my cheeks. My breath seemed to hang in the still air. I scanned the population of trees, looking for movement that would tell me the dogs and I weren’t alone. A blue jay complained from above, but other than tracks, there were no other signs of life. The intense cold as well as the heavy snow must have driven the deer and other birds to lower ground for shelter. On the way through, I’d passed a small opening down in the marsh where the water still gurgled up, surrounded by the ice.
I pondered for a moment how even in the dead of winter, nature somehow finds a way to take care of the wildlife. Berries that were previously hidden by a heavy leaf mass could now be found by the woodpeckers, jays, and waxwings. Acorns and beechnuts that had been protected by the thick carpet of fallen leaves were now the food of choice for deer. And the turkey would follow the deer, finding remnants in the places where the snow had been pawed aside.
The snow storm pulled me, like an addiction, into the woods today. Huge flakes, driven by the wind made visibility difficult. When I joined the pines, I immediately noticed the silence around me. There were no birds. I suppose they were all taking refuge in the small thick shrubs that lined the marsh. No squirrels scolded the dogs from high in the hemlocks. Further down the trail, I began to hear the war between the wind and naked tree tops. There were groans from trunks of large trees as their canopy of limbs swayed ferociously against the storm. Several older trees lay at their base, rotting, having succumbed to previous storms. I heard cracks, squeaks and slaps. Younger and smaller trees struggled to avoid breaking. A lull in the wind and now made the woods quiet again, but only briefly.
January 19, 2011
I didn’t feel like going this morning. It was drab gray outside, and the thermometer told me it wouldn’t be 32 degrees for long, and the wind would eventually bring the cold. I knew the snow would be rotten and crunchy from yesterday’s warm temperature and subsequent rain. It did get a little colder last night, enough to make everything slippery and my trip to the barn noisy. The nice fluffy snow I’d enjoyed two days ago didn’t exist anymore. My snowshoes were outside, with a layer, or four of ice on them. I’d have to wiggle some give into the laces to even get my boots in them. I really didn’t feel like going, but the pleading, insistent eyes of my three labs finally persuaded me. Okay, I relented. I told myself it would be a short walk. Just long enough for the dogs to release some of their pent up energy, and then we could go home.
I managed to tighten my snowshoes without too many curse words and off we went. The dogs ran ahead as usual, happy their routine hadn’t changed from any other day. We got to the edge of the woods and I thought I’d turn back. I reminded myself again that it was going to be a short walk. Curious to see how high the marsh was because of the melt, I walked onto the path lined with alders and ancient willows. The landscape suddenly became more interesting. Pampas grass and low shrubs, coated with ice and frost transformed the scenery. The marsh was gently flowing, the water greenish-brown, and quiet. Deciding to walk another two minutes, we headed into the hemlocks, and I stopped and considered whistling for my companions. But they’d already run ahead. I told myself I’d go just a bit farther into the maple-beech grove, and see what I could see. There were deer tracks everywhere, as well as several depressions in the snow where they’d dug in their search for acorns and beech nuts. Other than the obnoxious noise of my snowshoes in the crusty snow, the woods was quiet.
I went just a bit further and whistled for the dogs. I wasn’t going to be gone too long, my conscience said. A power line just ahead runs perpendicular to my property. I was so close to the edge and my first instinct was to say “ah, close enough,” and turn back. But something drew me. I’ll never know what and I’m sure will never be able to comprehend if I ever found out. I closed the distance and stood at the woods edge. Deciding I really was done, I turned around intending to head home. The dogs saw me change direction and quickly crowded around. They always get a treat when we regroup.
A flicker of movement high up in the trees caught my attention. I focused on the last place I’d seen it. I wasn’t disappointed. A pileated woodpecker flitted from tree to tree looking for food. Our presence didn’t appear to disturb him. The largest of woodpeckers, aside from the ivory-billed, this bird looked so regal with its bright red head tuft against the black and white of the rest of its body. He stood out against the gray sky and dark trees like a jewel. I watched as he flew among some grape vines and fed on the long dried up grapes. I watched that bird and realized I was perfectly content that my venture out took longer than I’d wanted. When the he flew out of sight, it was only then that I turned for home.
January 12, 2011
I got thinking this morning about the different ways we express ourselves in art. I write, countless paint, etc., and probably even more take photographs.
While on my daily morning walk I paused for a moment in the snow-clad landscape, amongst the Hemlocks, Beech and Maple trees. Nearby a Willow tree lay dormant, near death, with its bark hanging from several branches. Next to it a stream gurgled almost inaudibly as it surfaced from the ice, only to disappear again further down.
I thought to myself, ‘wow,’ what a beautiful picture that would be. But if I’d brought a camera with me (which I do sometimes), I know that upon viewing the picture I’d be disappointed. The air wouldn’t smell like the snow that surrounded me, the cold air wouldn’t make my eyes water, the blue jay and nuthatch wouldn’t be noisily going about their business, I wouldn’t hear the soft ‘click’ of the snowflakes as they hit my vest. No, it would just be a square photo, not the panoramic view I had when I was out there.
I guess that’s why I write.