Raptors and Me

Birds of prey have been appearing and soaring and flapping around me so much this past week that I have to think they’re trying to make a point. I searched ‘significance of birds of prey’ on the internet (this site was the most interesting I found) and what’s been happening recently definitely feels meaningful. Tell me these encounters in my city of over 90,000 people aren’t wild!

Red Tailed Hawk near the river.

Yesterday, within an hours time from when I took Rufus on an early afternoon walk, I had 4 raptor sightings. I watched one hawk hovering in the same spot high up in the sky. A few blocks later I spotted another one sitting in a tree near the river. I filmed the video above catching this red tail hawk fly from one branch to another. About 10 minutes later, as I neared the house, I saw another huge hawk – more than 18 inches long sitting in the big sycamore tree across from our house. Shortly afterwards, Molly and I sat talking in the living room over coffee when her gaze shifted outside. Balanced atop our hedge was what we think is a sparrow hawk. We watched it eyeing the bird feeder and Molly spotted two squirrels flattened against the trunk of the maple tree looking very nervous. It hung around for minutes, moving on to a branch not far from the squirrels before moving on.

Sparrow Hawk (?) in the front yard.

Yesterday was incredible but not quite as amazing as my two experiences with another recent visitor(s?) earlier in the week.

It was still dark when I heard Rufus’s muffled bark summon me for a dawn walk. I got out of bed reluctantly and bundled up in a sweater over my pjs, a scarf looped around my neck, a wooly hat and a puffy coat. In the breezeway I shuffled out of my slippers into ugly old clogs I only wear for short dog walks. I opened the door and Rufus pulled, hoping to catch sight of a squirrel or the resident rabbit so he could bark and wake all the neighbors.

No barking this morning. We meandered down to the end of the driveway, me carefully stepping between rotting crabapples. The sky bloomed pink in the east and the blurry softness of grays and blacks of the small wooded area came into focus. I was mid-yawn as a large bird flapped by so close I could hear a whoosh of wings. It landed on a low branch not ten feet away from where it sat and stared at me.

Holding my breath, I stared back. An owl! Rufus was quiet. I whispered – hello you gorgeous creature, almost feeling an impulse to bow to its magnificence! My heart beating double pace with the thrill, I tried not to blink lest I miss a moment, my vision and mind still fuzzy in the dawn light. After what felt like minutes but still too short, the owl lifted off and flew a few yards to the mulberry tree, attention back to its hunt, head turned towards a scrubby corner of my yard. But for those few minutes it had stared directly at me. I felt like it wanted to tell me something. I watched until it lifted off and out of sight, marveling how such a large body can be moved through the air on wings.

The next day at dusk, still early by the clock, maybe 5 PM but in December that’s almost dark, Rufus pulled on the blanket I cuddled under with my book, an insistent request for a walk. So we repeated the ritual – this time dressed slightly more acceptably to be seen in public. We made it to the middle of the driveway when I looked to the left and froze. An owl was watching me. Again, I gazed back as if we were picking up on an unknown conversation. The same owl? I don’t know! Molly was working up in her room and I looked down long enough to text her to come out quickly. She quietly crept out of the house and joined me. The owl stared at us both and we whispered our wonder back and forth. She captured the photo above.

Meeting wildlife in my city neighborhood can feel like gentle prods into a spiritual place but these recent ones are like more substantial kicks! What am I missing? What should I know? Pay attention to? Face-to-face with owls twice in two days? And all those other raptors practically following me around? Magical and uncanny. I’ve had other creature encounters – like my morning meet-ups with a fox a few years ago that I wrote about here. And this is Molly’s second owl visit this year – her previous one in LA that I wrote about here. Maybe Neil is checking in on us again? I can’t yet report on any insight from these extraordinary visits other than an incredible joy and awe. What do you think? I’ll claim them as harbingers of a rich and wise new year. And I wish the same to you!

Dog and Other Walks

My daughter brought Rufus home for Thanksgiving and when she flies back to California later today, he will remain with me. Molly will return for Christmas and will bring him back to his west coast life in January. Meanwhile I have the pleasure and responsibility of taking care of this sweet dog.

Rufus smiling

While I haven’t missed his 6 AM demand that I take him out, I don’t hate being forced to see the sunrise. While he angles his leg towards the hedge to pee, I yawn and look up at the sky. This morning the sky was glorious – a deep navy blue in the west as night moved out and a glowing yellow of a new day in the east.

Getting outside also gets me out of my head when I am more inclined to retreat to full hibernation mode. Especially in winter, I get lazy and I don’t love the cold and there have already been days when I barely step out of the house. That’s not good. Even a short walk around the neighborhood gives me a spark of energy along with a fix of fresh oxygen. Having Rufus around with his multiple required outings each day, reminds me that I need to fan these sparks into flames.

Rather than letting the days simply pass, I want to savor each as precious. Even the physical movement of opening the door changes the energy, creates an atmospheric shift reminding me that I am part of something bigger than myself. Walking through the neighborhood, exchanging a few words with a neighbor or venturing down to the river to note the tide and maybe glimpse the great blue heron who seems to be wintering nearby, all give me a sense of well-being.

Stepping outdoors with no other intent than to follow this pup around in his wander, no matter how self absorbed I was minutes earlier, the wind against my cheek, light in my eyes, crunch of leaves under my feet, keeps me present.

Rufus surveying the estate

It’s not that I don’t go for walks when Rufus isn’t here. I’m pretty disciplined about getting up and out and there are advantages to doing this solo. While I like the purpose a dog brings, walks alone are easier. Without him, I walk at my own pace instead of being pulled along, stopping abruptly so he can sniff every few feet. Alone, I can drive the 10 minutes to the beach and walk where dogs aren’t allowed but the views are spectacular. I do like the freedom of not having a pet – but I miss the rituals, the weight of him on my lap, his sweet devotion.

No, I do not want to adopt another dog right now. But I do love having him visit and I do love him. But right now I am learning who this new me is that need only take care of myself and it’s very interesting and a little luxurious. Today it is rainy and Rufus, not a fan of getting wet, won’t want to venture further than the yard to do the necessary. I may just have to leave him at home and go for a walk by myself. (Or not!)

Pets or no pets?

Windows in My Life

Summer view

As if nature saw the calendar memo, autumn landed and the temperatures dropped. So I bought a few mums and closed my windows for the first time since May. They’re the old wooden kind that stick whether you’re trying to open or close them. Some need propping up with a piece of wood. Functionally, they all suck. Still, I’m not changing them.

Summer View 2

Window salespeople make a bee-line to my house to try and convince me to get their more energy efficient, very ugly plastic products. Religious proselytizers who knock on my door have a better chance of converting me – I love my old wooden windows that much. Most rooms have three windows giving my little cape an abundance of light and views. Downstairs I can look out at the garden and bird feeders and from upstairs, I live with the branches through the seasons. From the window at the top of the stairs I see the peach and pear trees and have a birds eye view of resident groundhogs as they snuffle around their estate.

Winter friends

These windows are drafty as hell – single glazed, some with cracked panes and at least one with a gap at the top no matter how hard I try shoving it closed. All need re-puttying. In another month or two I’ll be covering them with plastic vowing that next Spring, I’ll wash them. I can tell you right now, that’s probably a losing bet.

Bedroom light

The sun has an easy entry into all of my rooms. On a summer morning, the light that pours through my bedroom windows shines right through my closed lids. I like waking up like this – to the glowing gift of a day. With upcoming changing clocks nonsense, the hour I wake will soon be pitch dark. I can already feel a shift in my morning mood. Waking with the light brings me joy and I would not last long in a windowless cell. Just a skylight is not enough and no alley windows for me.

Winter tree view

My view of the trees is sweet and branches are a first marker of the seasons. But to have a view of water is a dream! A pond or a river or best yet, the sea. Always, at least – the sky. This is a requirement for any other real estate I ever move into. Plenty of windows. Quaint trullis and European cave houses so common in the hot regions of Italy, Spain, Portugal – with rooms with thick windowless walls like a tomb – do not tempt me. My happiness directly relates to being able to feel the strongest pulse of nature involving as many of my senses as possible. While my first choice is always to be able to step right outside, a window I can open is the next best thing.

Winter view

The first thing I do when I go downstairs in the morning, if it’s warm enough, is open the windows and the front door. In winter, I pull back the heavy curtains to let the light in. Always, I try and shrink the space between me and the natural world even if it means throwing another sweater or blanket on.

The sun porch wins for windows

My front porch gets a lot of use. Whenever I can, I like to sit out on the old glider to feel the air while I eat and drink. I like to read out there and take at least one nap each summer. The clothesline runs from the porch to the crabapple tree trunk and I hang my laundry until it freezes. The porch is where I welcome visitors and watch the birds and the neighbors go by. And when it rains or the mosquitos get bad, the sweet breezeway area off the kitchen is perfect. In the winter it becomes a quick pass through area to pull off boots and for over-wintering plants. There are plenty windows.

The kitchen sink.

While washing dishes, there’s an unexciting view of the garage but crane your head a little and look to the right to glimpse the great old oak tree. Raptors like to hang out there to watch for prey and when the leaves fall, there’s an easy view of them. I always plant my window boxes and they’re easy to water through the screens using the sink spray hose.

A summer eve.

Of course windows are also for looking in. When I’ve traveled alone in the past and been homesick and during unhappy times in my own home, I peered at and in (from a distance!) the windows of strangers, sure their lives were better than mine. As the day disappears and windows begin to glow, it’s easy to imagine the happy cozy lives within. And yet – I know that’s not always true. While the total number of happy days lived in this house now outnumber the troubled ones, there were tough times that the luminosity of these windows did not reveal. But now, in this home, what you see from outside is a life of serenity, sweetness and joy. With the approach of winter, my windows may darken at night but the warmth and love inside is bright and true – if a little drafty.

True answers only: How often do you wash your windows?

The Weekend Blizzard Report

Without a dog to take out I was able to spend all day yesterday inside. After writing that I thought I really should go out at least for a minute, so went on the porch to fill my lungs and looked around. I am glad I did. A glorious sunset was cracking through the grey of the day and the cold air felt exhilarating. I looked off across the yard, smelling, feeling, and hearing what was going on out here. For two days I had only been looking out my window missing the full experience of nature that I used to have regular doses of, even if just for a quick step-out with the dog. And listen to the wind!

Blizzard Sunset

The sound of wind through trees is one of my favorite things. Nature communicating loudly here – trees, wind – whose voice is whose? Together, they’re magnificent, if a little terrifying. I’m pretty sure the pine trees up in that patch (although not visible in the video) are the main noisemakers.

I’ve been checking out evergreens a lot recently. Maybe one day I’ll get to hear the wind whipping through the 3 foot White Pine I bought as our crooked Christmas tree this year. I felt quite virtuous buying a live tree but did not think through where I might plant it on my .24 acre already crowded with 8 very large trees and many more smaller ones including the 2 pear and 2 peach trees out back. I took this shot of the not yet planted, snow-logged darling from my bedroom window. If I’m still here in 12 years or so I will have a front seat to wind-through-pine tree concerts.

White Pine Tree Buried in Snow

I grew up in a 7th floor apartment in the Bronx but when I was still in elementary school, my parents bought a country house in the Berkshires that we’d drive up to on weekends and summers (my parents were NYC school teachers and had off). There was a White Pine tree on the property, perfect for climbing and I did so, sitting and daydreaming or sulking, depending on the day. I’d have to pick the stubborn sap off my hands, arms and legs for days. It was there in Canaan (yes, really) that I became a nature lover, learned to identify trees and birds and became a devotee of Euell Gibbons, fascinated by the idea of foraging my own food and living off the land. I regularly wandered into the woods behind the house saying I was ‘going up the hill!’ rather than my apartment call of ‘going downstairs!’ as I left the house. In these woods I learned to walk quietly, to listen and watch. I read nature books like crazy, including one on animal tracks. I was reminded of those days when I ventured out into the snow today.

Bird Tracks

Yesterday’s ‘red sky at night’ (sailor’s delight!) definitely delivered and while it’s cold, it’s bright and not a cloud in the sky. Coming down the stairs to make my tea this morning, I peeked out at the back deck. I often see creatures there, usually the big old groundhog, that I’ve resigned myself to being my tenant, will be sunning itself. Across the deck were tracks. After donning my boots and coat I went out and found proof of many little creatures who have been wandering around my estate. My friend who lives in the woods upstate recently set up a camera and captures some great footage of coyotes and a gorgeous bob cat passing through. Even in this city of more than 88,000 there have been coyote and bobcat sightings. But these prints are mostly wee ones of chipmunks and there’s obvious bird activity although there’s not much action at the feeder today. I suspect my feathered friends are still hunkered in their nests. I couldn’t identify whatever crossed and went under the deck but I doubt it’s groundhog who must still be asleep.

Rufus at the Airport

So yes, I miss having little Rufus around to force me into the world but I am adjusting. And somehow, because I have to be intentional in my outings and he’s not here to distract me with his cuteness, I think I pay better attention. And in case you’re wondering, while he hates flying, he is embracing his new life of peeing on palm trees and being utterly adored by Molly and her dear roommates in sunny California. And as any parent knows, when they’re happy, we’re happy. Although, I do consider fostering some sweet old dog…

Late Summer: Sunset and Moonrise Magic

moonrise kayaking

Yesterday Molly and I went for a sunset kayak — a stunning finale to a beautiful breezy day with a bittersweet hint of autumn. We are nearing the end of this season of light.

Low tide meant a short paddle would land us on a grassy sandbar that only surfaces for a few hours a day. We spotted the little empty beach and made straight for it. After ten minutes of paddling we pulled our boats onto the rocky shore, spread a towel and settled in for the sunset show. No sooner had we clinked glasses when a rowdy trio of adult boys pulled up in small motorboat. Without so much as a ‘are we disturbing you?’ they unloaded their cooler and a gigantic speaker blasting bad music feet from where we sat. Rolling our eyes at each other then giving them side-eyes they ignored, Molly and I rolled up our towel and left them to the shrinking patch.

Back on my boat, I imagined what might have happened with different company – thinking who might have angrily engaged the inconsiderate nincompoops escalating the experience and our blood pressure. And surprised that I did not. Instead I felt lucky to be with good-natured Molly, peacefully exiting while exchanging jokes and laughter about the rude interlopers. Then, we felt glad to be sitting on the water instead of beside it. As the sun fell beneath the horizon, a full moon cast another kind of glow on the Sound. Intoxicated by the cocktails we sipped from mason jars and from the stunning scene unfolding all around us, we let ourselves be jostled about by the incoming tide. The sky took over.

The sun left a skirt of pink fading in the West. I looked East and in what seemed only a blink, I felt a shift, a change to night and something more — another season, another state of being. So simple and quick I might have missed it — whatever that moment was — no more, no less than a sense of something. Slipping my paddle into the water, I positioned my kayak head-on into the trail of moonlight as if I might follow it to somewhere beyond the horizon. Jupiter and Saturn appeared twinkling like the stars they might be mistaken for.

Closer overhead, flocks of birds passed across a stretch of sky as if on a feather highway. First came half a dozen egrets, long legs dangling behind them. Following the egrets came a larger flock of frantically flapping terns. The birds silently followed each other into the deepening blue night and I felt a reverence in their flight as if they might feel as grateful for the day as I. Were they off to sleep on one of the islands? Turning my gaze back to the water, shimmering like giant fish scales or sequins of dark blues and blacks,  heaving beneath us in giant breaths. And at the center of it all, a hypnotizing path of moonlight.

Molly’s boat was too far away for us to talk to each other but we were both content in our own meditations. But as the flash of blue and red police lights from shore signaled the beach was closing, we called to each other — agreeing it was time to paddle back even as the pathway to the moon enticed me away.

I’d been on the fence about going kayaking – laziness and a little chill in the air as my excuse. What I would have missed! Out on the water I marvel, dream, think and wonder  — about life — the present, the future. Last night I considered where to be and how to live this (last!) leg of life. But do we get to curate our own lives, really? So much is a crapshoot, the luck of the draw or whatever version of God or not, one believes in. Having moments like last night are enough for me. In spite of – or maybe because of the goofs who drove us out into the water, their Lord of the Flies like howls always audible as we communed with the poetry of the night.

Combatting Worry-Creep

After a gift of gorgeous Spring days, Saturday morning and the weekend promises to be a little gloomy with only a dim haze of light where yesterday sparkled. I still mark weekends because I still have a job. Yes, our bookstores in the tristate area are closed but because I work primarily with educators and companies, I’m still in operation – my days safely at home on computer and phone doing business and sharing pep talks. Sometimes I am hit by worry-creep. I catch myself not breathing, my chest tightens until I remember things I am grateful for. Like for now I’m employed.

During my years of life in perpetual crisis-mode, I learned that focusing on gratitude calmed me. My heart goes out to all who are currently living with their own addiction or addict. Liquor stores in Connecticut remain open – considered essential and us social drinkers get to laugh appreciatively because who doesn’t need cocktail hour now? But there’s no such chuckle from someone who is seriously hooked. Recalling the recklessness I witnessed from my late partners, I am grateful not to be contending with an active addict in my life now. Strength and love to you if you are.

Back to things that calm the heart…

Having Molly here with me definitely tops the list. She was so ready to step away from her mom and out of this state where she’s spent her life. If her plan to land a job in NYC by February had worked out, well – it wouldn’t have been great right now. So yes, she’s not employed yet but she’s safe and healthy. We make each other laugh and bonus: she’s an amazing cook. Even if she were 6 and I was homeschooling her, corralling her away from friends and having to explain our current insanity – she would be my first delight and inspiration. But I won’t lie: I’m SO grateful to be living with this incredible adult version instead.

We love our home – although neither of us would win awards for best housekeeper and almost everything is shabby but not chic – we delight in this space. I look forward to getting my hands in the dirt, meanwhile adoring the cheery daffodils in our yard. We are lucky to have this home that I’ve managed to hang onto through all these years. The mortgage is almost down to what it originally was 24 years ago when I first bought it. – yes the bank will probably always own it. But thanks to refinancing (I have a great guy for this if you need one!) and my steady employment with blessed Barnes & Noble, we’ve weathered tough years in-place. We hope to continue to do that. I am very grateful to be quarantined in this sweet home – with a porch.

The list can go on. I’m sure you’ve got one too. Keep it handy. Of course I get anxious about this terrible illness disrupting our current grace-filled lives. I dread the thought of either of us, any loved one, any of you — losing our precious breath. But then — I breathe because I CAN — so deeply, filling my healthy lungs, expanding them as far as they will go and it feels positively joyful. I do this at night as I look at the stars – inhaling the cold night air while Rufus wanders the patchy lawn. I do it when I wake – stretching into the morning and gratefully taking a very deep, delicious breath.

How are you doing?

Forcing Spring and Myself

Peach blossoms

I hibernate. From reassuring texts and emails exchanged with friends who are also in a kind of dormancy, I know that it’s not just me and the groundhogs lying low. We are all tired and inclined to burrow deep into our own nests as dark closes in too early these winter months. I certainly am. At the end of the day or on a weekend, after a full work week, I want to light my wood stove, pull the curtains closed, crawl beneath the blankets with a book or the remote and talk to no one.

It doesn’t help that I have a job requiring I be outgoing, seek out strangers to try and convince them to buy lots of books. I like my company, love what I sell, am interested in other people and am socially adept – but like many book people, it’s not my natural inclination. As an introvert in an extrovert job, I definitely crave solitude after beating the bushes.

But it’s a fine line. Sometimes I feel like I have gone too far down the alone rabbit hole. Especially during winter, I tend to hide out in my own world, almost forgetting the pleasure of connection. It’s easier to stay in. But statistics show and I believe, that we humans need each other to thrive. I don’t mean through social networks – I want contact — to laugh, feel the comfort of a hug, hear a story, share a drink, a meal.

I’m so grateful to the many dear ones who make social overtures to me and accept mine. We take care of each other that way. Getting out with others can be more of an issue for us single people – particularly when you were once part of a couple. Venturing out requires more energy, motivation and confidence when you’re alone, particularly at first. It’s a skill worth honing because… well, you know. I certainly wish the men I once believed I’d be spending my life with were still here with me. I miss that. (To say ‘men’ rather than ‘man’ sounds weird – but there are two loved ghosts in my life.) Still, I enjoy my own company and have become quite content in my solitude. But the danger is how much easier it is to burrow down deeper, venturing out less. And I believe that for my health and well being, I need to resist the inclination to retreat. Do you know what I mean?

As always, I find my best life cues in nature. Last week I pruned my peach and pear trees, putting a few branches in water. And blossoms are already emerging — a reminder to the reclusive me, of the beauty that may come from forcing things along.

Ruminations on Autumn Clean-up (or not) and Time

I share my little plot with 8 trees large enough that I hope none fall on my house. They make a lot of leaves. If the spirit moves me I will rake them into mounds alongside the hedge or into my raised garden bed where they do their beautiful business of rotting.

My neighbors across the street have no trees and I wonder if they hate me when the wind blows in their direction? We are friends so I doubt it – but I’m sure they feel a tad exasperated by the mess my arbor-love makes on their tree-less property. And I wonder a little if their intention is to torture me every Saturday when the landscaper comes with a blower to blow mostly my tree’s leaves off their perfect lawn. There are not many sounds I hate more than the sound of a gas blower as it goes on and on and on.

My gardening… philosophy? technique? I search for the word that best describes my intentional laissez-faire attitude around autumn clean-up. I believe and there is much proof, that left to itself, nature takes better care of itself than when we meddle. The decomposed leaves enrich my property so it doesn’t make sense to stuff them into bags to be picked up by the noisy trucks emitting additional carbon gases into our atmosphere while they do it.

There is some clean-up I eventually get around to. I twist the thorny vines and weeds into cans to be picked up by those same trucks or smash them into the back of my car to drive them to the brush dump myself. Every year invasive weeds like Japanese knotweed and bittersweet win the battle in at least one corner of my yard. Every spring I have high hopes that this will be the year I’ll keep said corner clear of growth. But as we move into summer and the heat and bugs amp up, I give up, conceding until autumn when I can more easily pull and snip at the recently frost-killed invasive plants.

I think about time and how it makes some things easier. Of course body aches and wrinkles alert me to the challenges time can bring = aging. But mostly I see time as my ally. With time (and effort) things that once were entrenched in my actual and metaphorical ‘patch’ become easier to deal with. A few short months ago, I was daunted by an overwhelming green mass full of thorns and worse — ticks. After a few frosty nights, the thicket shrank to skeletal twists I could tackle.

In the garden on an unseasonably warm day, I brace myself with bent knees, heels dug into the earth, inhaling a deep breath of mint (my advice: grow only in pots!) while yanking on a resistant tangle, I think of old resentments, anger, grief – pulling harder, feeling the strain into my legs until with a snap, release down to my core, my soul. Looking closely at the branches of the fruit trees saved now from being swallowed up by this wild growth, I see the teeniest, tightest little buds. Hope.

 

New to the Neighborhood

imgres-1

Dawn and dusk have drawn closer and shorter days means that on the 5 days a week I work, there’s less light for long walks with dear Rufus. Morning outings are always short – just quick forays down the block with just enough time to sniff around and lift a leg a few times before heading back inside so I can get ready for work. When there’s enough daylight left on my return home, I like to take him either to the dog park where he trips over his own little legs running so hard and fast, or for a 2 mile jaunt I call the river walk. Either way, it’s a welcome outing for both of us. And even more fun when Molly joins us, her and I gabbing as we trade off on holding the leash of our tugging pooch. (we are lax on training)

The dawn walks are just me and Rufus. And lately: a fox. The first morning I saw him from a distance – a creature sitting in the middle of the road. I didn’t have my glasses on and couldn’t quite make out what it was but certainly it was bigger than one of our known-residents – neither rabbit nor groundhog. It sat very still with it’s back to us, smack in the middle of the street. I squinted to try and make out – was it a dog weirdly sitting there so still? Then it stood up and leapt into the woods. hmmm.

A few mornings later, we met fox face-to-face. It wasn’t frightened and in fact, stepped towards us even as I stamped the ground and cried ‘scat!’. It seemed more curious than threatening but it’s bigger than Rufus, who didn’t make a peep. I scooped up our wee dog and dashed back home. Fox did not follow. At first I wasn’t sure if it was fox or coyote – but it’s tail is very bushy and body slender. A beautiful creature! But I was shaken, imagining it attacking our beloved little dog.

Rufus and I have encountered fox 3 more times, sometimes days in a row. Fox is fearless, stepping towards us – never aggressively – perhaps wondering about Rufus’s fox-like ears. Maybe this youngish-kit thinks he’s a cousin. He probably wants to sniff him to find out – or to see if he wants to eat him for breakfast. I called animal control to ask their advice, whether I should be alarmed. They said it might be a young cub, alone and indeed curious – although fox will eat a cat so if our dog is that size (yes, he’s smaller) then I should carry a stick and make sure Rufus had had his rabies shot – just in case. I’ve taken to carrying an umbrella or rake during the low-light hours. I’m sure the neighbors think I’m nuts.

Interestingly, Molly has yet to encounter fox and teased me that I was imagining it but now is spooked about taking him out when it’s dark. My sister suggested the fox is my spirit animal and in fact, these encounters have begun to feel a little magical. I went down the internet search foxhole of what fox encounters might mean – and of course choose the positive interpretations — especially seizing on the Japanese symbolism of longevity and protection from evil. Just please, dear fox, do not eat Rufus.

PS: My neighbor shared this great photo of said fox.

A beauty, no?

Tuesday Morning Chill

A grey morning but for the glow of the newly green trees visible from my window. I peek out through half opened eyes but the desire to keep sleeping overpowers me and I slip down against the pillows. It’s tempting to go under for another dream but I allow myself only a few minutes before getting up to walk Rufus. I pull on a hooded jacket over a sweatshirt. Rufus pulls on his lead. The birds are singing Spring songs but my breath lingers as a visible cloud. It’s cold and it rained last night. I think of my garden plot across town and am glad I got the cardboard and newspaper down in time to capture this stretch of wet weather. I hold the memory of that work in the ache of muscles in my back from pulling the wheelbarrow through mud. I hear a woodpecker in the trees two blocks over. I love that sound as long as it’s not my house they’re drilling holes into. Rufus does not like a wet day. We turn and go back home. A short walk and glimpse of Tuesday morning.