Category Archives: Snippets in Time
Unique Memories from Personal Experiences
These days are trying. I hope for spring. Receive a tease, sunny skies and feeling warm. But, only one day so far. The frigid winter with its blasts of wind and snow visit over and over, day after day.
This is disappointing. But, I will not lose hope. I remember back, just a few years ago. I saw the dark green of a slimy looking moss. It brought such delight and hope back then. Why not now?
I am hopeful. I feel it coming. Spring in all its glory – will arrive.
I’m wishing for spring and the warmth summer.
But a glorious display changed my mind this morning.
What’s the hurry?
Why be impatient?
Give in to the day
And savor its treasures.
Twigs and branches
Loud and Large
But weak to me.
Birds create a fantastical world for me. They are beautiful to look at. Their songs fill empty spaces with pleasure. They have a lovely disposition and brighten my day. I’d like to talk about one of my favorites, the Chickadee.
I’ve had many an encounter with the Black-Capped Chickadee from the sharing of meals to a bit of humor. I’ve seen how they care for other birds, showing them the way.
One such time was when we had a young Robin winter over up here, where the weather turns bitter cold and the snow piles grow. At first the little guy came to the feeder by himself. A few days later he stayed when the Chickadees came, sitting in a leafless bush far from the feeder. Where did he go when the wind blew wildly? He just sat in the same bush with his feathers fluffed to the uttermost. Nights were spent in the crook of a maple tree branch. Finally, on the fifth day, he understood that the Chickadees had been offering him an invitation. They wanted him to know when to come and eat, where to get his rest, and to sleep in a warm place. I watched him come with the happy little guys, taking his turn to gather food from beneath the feeder. He learned to rest in the thick branches of a cedar shrub and to sleep inside the hole of a dead tree, nestled deeply in the woods behind the cabin.
There are other stories familiar to many of the Chickadee landing on shoulders, taking feed from tiny hands,and gathering thickly to complain when “someone” was late with the food. My funniest was during a second hike of The Appalachian Trail (a continuous trail that runs from Georgia up into Maine). I did it differently than most by starting in Pennsylvania the second week of March and heading north. This way I’d be alone for most of the five month journey and I was. Anyway… I was in Vermont enjoying the rewards of what happens when the skies let loose. It was raining for the fourth day in a row. As the previous days, the rain was torrential in the middle of the day and had nearly washed away my wonder and awe of where I was. That is, until I came round a sharp bend in the trail just below the summit of Peru Mountain. I was face to face with a Chickadee, mere inches from my nose. He said his usual “Chickadee, dee, dee.” But it was obvious that he was saying more than a cheery hello. His crisp clear few syllables shouted laughter. He was laughing at me as I stood in front of him. Twice! And then, I couldn’t help myself and began to laugh with him as the rain continued to cover me like a waterfall bursting off the top of my head. “Chickadee, dee, dee, Dee! DEE!” translation, “ha, ha, he, he, you’re all wet! Followed by little giggles.
I cannot claim the scientific distinction between mankind and animal. The world is a creation beyond eternity.
What we plan to happen and what really happens is a test of character, the very essence of who we are.
Racine, Wisconsin. My neighbor’s daughter was attending college in Minnesota. She became ill and eventually tragically sick. Her diagnosis was cancer, Hodgkins ( stage 3 if my memory is correct). I watched a mother-daughter bond grow beyond “family.” I saw basic human connectivity morph into metaphysical spaces that defy explanation.
In the end, cancer lost and mother-daughter won. I believe they did because they looked to the inner life of the other and saw the same thread, an exact match. This thread is love. A love that is seldom seen in human interaction. It has no boundaries and undermines the very essence of dimension. It is more than “the two are one.” They just are.
I wrote the following a year or so later as a gift for them. It was my best attempt, feeble as it may be, to express what I saw. [The title no longer fits but it is the original.]
all flashes and rumblings.
A Deepening Silence,
in thick shiny hoar frost.
The Joyful Laughter
of bubbling waters.
Two candles, brightly lit.
Warm, gentle spirits.
and so, We are.
Inspired by my visit with the Great Blue Heron in the Punchbowl on Jewel Island. (See Exploring Jewell.)
If I had the legs of a Heron, I’d be on the ground most of the time. The legs I have are trouble enough. They’ve caused many a face plant, side slam, and turtling. The latter describes a backpacker sprawled beneath his load, appendages protruding as if legs from a turtle under a shell. I’m an expert at this one and my favorite example happened during my first hike of the Appalachian Trail. (A two Thousand mile trail running between Springer Mountain, Georgia and Mt. Katahdin, Maine.)
I took a great fall while crossing over a bog. It was on puncheon board, barely wide enough for my boots. As usual, something had caught my attention and I looked without stopping. I tripped and went air-born, hanging momentarily before massively colliding with the board. The impact expelled air from my lungs like that of water when a dive turns into a “belly-smacker.” A few seconds pass before my hiking partner asked if I was okay. I consciously surveyed myself head to toe. I think so. “Can I take your picture?” “No, Get me out of here!” ( In retrospect, I wish a photo had been taken. There I was, turtled on a board. My shell awkwardly skewed and right arm to the shoulder stuck in thick, wet, algae muck. I think this was an amazing stunt. What are the odds of a trip into space and landing almost completely on a board barely wide enough for two small feet?)
If I had the poise of a Heron, I’d be a fashion model.
If I had the focus of a Heron, I’d be a statue.
If I had the patience of a Heron, I’d be a saint.
If I had the coat of Heron, I’d eat more neatly.
If I had the wings of a Heron, I’d soar with grace.
I’ve had dealings with Herons, enjoyable encounters. My favorite is with a Little Blue Heron during a canoe trip. – A friend in the bow and I in the stern, paddling Mississippi River backwaters. Usually, we watch the birds but not so now. A Little Blue Heron walks beside us, keeping pace and even stopping when we do. He curiously stares at two people in a canoe. Maybe he wonders why a mammal that is not built to float goes to such trouble to do just that? Why do they add length to their arms? Their hands reach the water. Isn’t that enough? I surmise by their plumage that they can alter their covering. Why do they wear what they do? How and when do they change? I have so many questions and wish to observe. But now they are looking at me, as if I’m doing something silly or out of the ordinary? Do they think that I’m not interested in living things too?
I rise from my chair at eight thirty pm, causing two dogs to bounce from their quiet spaces. They go nuts running in circles by the door. Hey guys, you come dressed for all seasons. Me, I gotta get some layers on. It’s cold out there.
The door opens and vroom! Out they go with me stumbling down the step from behind. We do our thing, running around the oval-shaped driveway. Go! Go! Go! I change directions to get ahead. Hey guys! They open up to high gear and sprint all the way to the spot where I’m standing, near the end of the “triangle.”
[The triangle is a grassy area at the north end of a stand of majestic old spruce trees.]
I am caught in this space and squat into quietness. It’s silent here and the simple act of breathing is annoying. I switch to listen- mode and that does the trick.
I love these moments. Time wrapped in silence, decimating the clutter of life; an existence without bonds, free from thought and expectation.
Soft light falls. Ice glows. A little pond welcomes a gentle moon. Its northern-most edge much brighter than the rest.
Still squatting, I swivel round. Senses engage, observing and absorbing; seeking to create a perfect memory. But something else happens. I don’t enter the scene. No, no, the world envelopes me!
Broad Stratus Clouds advance from the south. Waning moon-light stays its course. I stare at the heavens, noting the shape of the moon and the stars so few and far between.
I see. I see, feeling the powerful pull of an incalculable expanse. It touches thin dry flakes, covering layers of old compacted snow. A perfect blend of earth and sky.
I look up. I look down. I look across the ground, then straight out turning around. “Haaah,” a wisp of coolness brushes my cheek, adding to this growing memory
Snow reflects light, sparkling without twinkle. Eyes shift slightly. Geometric brilliance, subtle yet explosive.
Two dogs remain nearby, as when I first stopped. One sits behind, her back against mine. The other in front, much smaller in size, leans to the form of my leg.
These furry creatures, “Man’s best friend.” They are my translators, bridging the gap between me and this moment.