So, as I said at the end of my last posting, I waited patiently for my regal visitor, the Baltimore Oriole, to return to to his breakfast spot in my bottle brush tree. However, it was already day four of his continued absence and I was somewhat heavy-hearted for his loss. It was later in the day, more like mid-morning snack time than breakfast, when I heard a new call. At first I thought it was him, but then I realized that this call was richer and the notes kind of tripped over each other.
Grabbing the binoculars I headed out into the garden. I judged the call to be coming from a couple of houses down and began to play the binoculars back and forth in the direction that it seemed to be coming from. A sudden flash of scarlet caught my attention in a tree that grew in the pine wood out back immediately behind the fence of the third house to our left.
The calls continued and I kept my eyes focused on the tree. Suddenly I saw him, a very large, jet-black bird with very distinctive white markings around the face and neck, and a few smaller white markings on the shoulder area of his wings. But what was striking was the brilliant red crest atop his head. He was at least as big as the American Crow if not bigger, probably eighteen to twenty inches from head to tip of tail.
His movements were very unique. He would lightly run up the trunk and, when he came to a halt, would twist his neck round almost 360* as he pecked at what I presumed were insects. Or else he would hop out onto a branch and would then hang upside down. Every once in a while he would stop in these activities and let out his rippling call. He was quite something to see and it made me marvel at the variety of creatures that God has created.
I checked him out in my Kenn Kaufman book of birds and discovered that I was seeing the Pileated Woodpecker. I was thrilled to read that he is an all-season bird for our region and quite surprised that I had not seen him before. I have spotted the Red-bellied Woodpecker and also the Red-naped Sapsucker in the pine woods out back, and both are about half the size of the Pileated. Here is the best picture that Rich could grab of him. He moved around a lot, but this view of his back clearly shows the white markings and his scarlet crest and also shows how he grips onto the trunk.
And so my knowledge of birds for this area is growing. Now is definitely the season for bird-watching because they are all in a spring-time frenzy of mating and creating nests. And that fact will lead nicely into my next posting because we have a pair of Carolina Chickadees who have decided to make their home in our back yard. I get to be a Grandma one way or another!
Slowly she is resurfacing, the Muse that feeds my imagination and nudges the words out of my mind and onto the page. I know the change in weather has something to do with it. For about a week now the days have been warm and full of sunshine, just the right environment to entice me out into my beloved garden to work the soil, scatter seeds, and plant some flowers.
Nature has also responded with much burgeoning growth. Trees are budding out at the speed of light and the St. Augustine grass has gone from hay-colored to fresh spring green in the flash of an eye. Tiny green shoots are poking through the earth, a promise of beauty and color yet to come.
Another deciding factor has been the time change. We sprang forward last weekend and the evenings are lighter longer which always brightens my soul. And even though this afternoon the sunshine slowly disappeared and the sky became leaden grey, I was able to feel very grateful and even lighthearted when the rains came to soak the parched ground.
We have had a very mild winter and we really need some rain. I am especially grateful that it has rained today because this means that I do not have to expend time and energy to water the garden tomorrow. We do not have an automatic system and it is quite time and energy consuming to move the sprinklers all around the garden to their allotted spots to make sure everything gets a good soaking.
So here I sit, in my wonderful lanai, outside yet sheltered from the rain, allowing the thoughts to flow and the fingers to run across the keyboard. The sky is still mostly grey and I think we will probably get some more rain this evening. Everything is a fresh lush green and, even though it is already 7.15pm, it is still quite light. I love moving through spring into longer days. For whatever reason it makes me feel more alive.
I think the change in weather and the change in time have happened just perfectly for me right now because both of these events have helped me to move outside and beyond the prevailing sadness that surrounded me and weighed down my heart. This was due to five deaths that have happened among my friends and family since the end of October last year. Dealing with death, even as I accept it as part of life’s cycle, takes its toll in a physical and emotional way. I am just so grateful that I have strong support systems and the right tools to help me deal with it.
Just as nature cycles through her seasons, so too do we humans. And to appreciate and enjoy the new life we also need to accept and appreciate the dying to the old life. I am grateful to have a faith, a belief in God and in a life hereafter. So once I move past the sorrow of loss I can rejoice and celebrate at the soul’s onward journey. Who knows what joys and what adventures await us in the Big Beyond!!
If there is one way that I think I can break through the Muse’s absence it is to share some wisdom from other writers. Perhaps surrounding myself with the written words from other’s Muses will help me to stir up my own words as I struggle once again in a sea of creative silence. So I gather up the myriad scraps of paper from around my desk and my bedside table and pick a few to share with you. And as I do so, I am hoping to open the flood gates of my own words which are momentarily locked away inside my heart.
“For those who believe in Jesus Christ, there is no sorrow that is not mixed with hope.” (Van Gogh)
“Guidance comes when you are feeling relaxed and peaceful. Gradually, you learn to trust the wisdom that comes to you in this relaxed, peaceful state, to speak the words you are guided to say, and to take
the actions you are inwardly directed to take, even if you don’t fully understand why you are being asked to take them.” (Paul Ferrini)
“Laughter is the sun that drives winter away.” (Anonymous)
“Do not walk behind me. I may not lead.
Do not walk in front of me. I may not follow.
Just walk beside me, and be my friend.” (Camus)
“We look forward to the time when the power of love will replace the love of power. Then will our world know the blessing of peace.” (William Gladstone)
“Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep.” (John Milton)
“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” (Charles Spurgeon)
“We are often so caught up in our destination that we forget to appreciate the journey, especially the goodness of the people we meet along the way.” (Anonymous)
“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.” (George Washington Carver)
“It’s not just what we do but what we don’t do for which we are accountable for.” (Moliere)
I may just have to share some more wisdom from others for a few days in order to get my own creative juices flowing again. And, as I close this writing, I am just having a “ta-da” moment: supposing I asked God to help me instead of sitting in miserable apathy – light bulb. Maybe my soul is beginning to resurrect. See you on the pages!