At some point in 2020, I decided to focus on the good and the beautiful. Which is why it’s comforting to watch the world outside my window. The birds and critters there have a natural rhythm that makes me feel that at least this piece of my world is circular and real.
The world outside my window runs and hops by my basement pane of glass, where I sit at my desk, looking out at ground level. These creatures venture so close to the glass, I’m able to study the details of feather and fur, eyes and beaks, claws and chipmunk cheeks ready to burst with nuts and seeds.
The squirrels sometimes press up against the window like children peering into a candy store, but all I have sitting on my window ledge are two jade plants and a jar of pencils and pens.
There’s a downy woodpecker that drills away at my wood siding. And the other day, a Pileated Woodpecker landed in the bird feeder, tilting it dangerously to the side with its weight.
I watched one adult chipmunk and three babies running back and forth outside my window all summer. The babies liked to sit up on the posts of my raised bed to get a higher view of their world. I worried about the neighborhood cats stalking them, but I have seen no cats come around the corner of our house for a while. Maybe the neighborhood mystery coyotes have thinned their herd.
Have you ever watched the process squirrels go through burying a nut? I have. A squirrel arrived with an acorn and dug into the lawn, his head disappearing into the hole then popping back up to study his work. When satisfied with the hole’s depth, the squirrel dropped the acorn down and pushed and patted the dirt back into place. This also required careful study, his teeny-tiny paws arranging and patting the dirt just so. He looked around, making sure no one had been watching, before he disappeared up a tree.
There are several cardinals who visit the bird feeder and pick berries off the bush near the side of the house. With their rebellious tufted heads, their bright feathers, and their personalities, they are one of my favorite birds to watch. I’ve never seen cardinal babies before this year. I was thrilled to watch them develop from fluff to feather. And one day, I watched with a sigh and an aw as a male cardinal fed seeds to his sweetheart.
Juncos, nuthatches, and sparrows amuse me with their high-wire act, as they carefully walk out on the stems of my now dead Black-eyed Susans to pluck at the seeds in their cones.
Then there are the bird visitors I’m not crazy about. The blue jays are the worst. They are loud and obnoxious bullies. The robins are a very close second. I never noticed how mean robins can be until so many of them collected in our yard.
I guess I should also dislike grackles, but they are too interesting to hate on them. They remind me of a punk gang as they arrive in large numbers in their shiny black jackets, blotting out the sun as they lurk in trees.
Okay. Maybe it’s not that bad but their numbers are impressive.
And when they flap their wings, there is this whooshing sound like a helicopter taking off. Perhaps that is an exaggeration as well… but how else do you describe a sound that causes you to raise your head and utter the words, “Holy cow! What was that?!”
One may wonder why I don’t have any amazing photos of all this wildlife. Well, I’m not a talented photographer. My photos disappoint me, never quite capturing the warmth of the memory I have in my head. Perhaps that’s why I now just want to look at the world with my eyes, and not through a camera lens. The one exception is taking photos of my dogs or of people I know. Those photos are treasures.
Intentionally seeing and appreciating the beauty that has always been in the world seems like a good direction to take in 2020 and into 2021 as it draws near. It’s better than allowing isolation and a lack of diversity in my routine drive me crazy. I can’t see any value in sitting around waiting for the Old Normal to return and believing that’s the only option for happiness. People who believe that appear to be trying to return to the Old Normal while it’s still not safe to do so, with devastating results to themselves and others.
Where are you at with all this? What ways are you finding to take care of yourself in the New Normal, whatever that is for you? Is there anything you see that is better than it was in the Before Times?