Spring is on its way! Snowdrops are adorning the earth, and a few crocuses and hellebore are peeking through the dead leaves. We have had more visitors to the lake in the last few weeks, including common mergansers, hooded mergansers, northern shovelers, and goldeneyes. Every time I walk to the park I’m excited to see the new travelers resting a while! We are so lucky these birds stop by Colorado during their migrations. In a few months the pelicans and egrets will begin to arrive.
In the thickets and wooded areas we’ve also had many new faces (and plenty of old ones too). The squirrels are in fine form, darting about the yard and nibbling up scraps from the suet feeder. We’ve had our usual flickers, finches, chickadees, nuthatches – red and white breasted – and juncos. They are our winter companions, visiting the feeder through the hardest months of the year. Last week, we had a brown creeper visit the yard. These little birds are extremely shy, and this little guy was enjoying the shelter of the big pine tree in our yard. I love imagining all the different types of birds who come through the yard that we never even see!
We just had another big snowfall yesterday, and today the world feels scrubbed clean and fresh. I’m still working on my de-cluttering project, and am about to embark on my next category this afternoon. It feels so good to be more mindful about the possessions I have, and to have fewer of them! I’m looking forward to some Valentine’s day celebrations next week, and I’m planning on making some chocolate mendiants to celebrate. I’ll be sure to take plenty of pictures!
The weeks just keep rolling by and now all of a sudden it’s February! Though Colorado has experienced a fairly severe drought this winter, Old Man Winter did visit us a few weeks ago with a wonderful snowstorm. I have to admit, I still feel like I haven’t quite finished hibernating and am hoping we get more snow in the coming weeks.
We made butternut squash soup and brownies, and hunkered down to play games while the snow came down outside. The garden was blanketed in a thick layer of snow, and our green man acquired his own dusting. We are all hoping this snow will provide moisture for the spring blossoms.
In folklore and fairy tales, snow represents cleansing and transformation. In our lives it can make our familiar streets, houses, and trees into the stuff of magic. Snow is also often associated with death – as is winter – mirroring the inward journey of the natural world as plants sleep beneath the earth and animals retreat into their dens. During this time of year, we are fortifying our inward selves rather than interacting with external forces. I like to think of death during this time of year as an opportunity for rebirth come the spring.
A winter blessing for you all: may you find solace in days spent by your hearth and in your home! I have a few things to catch up on here, as I managed to capture some wonderful pictures of our feathered friends out on the lake, and maybe even a couple little springtime surprises… Sending snowdrops!
There is a stillness this time of year as we settle into the darker days and colder weather. It’s an in-between time, falling after the vibrancy of October yet before winter truly sets in. We are inhaling, readying ourselves for the bustle and excitement of the holiday season. Around here, days are filled to the brim with teaching! I’ve been so busy creating lesson plans, grading, and reading my mountainous stacks of folktale books. It’s good to feel connected to learning again.
I’ve also been attempting to keep up my daily walks. It’s certainly more difficult as the weather gets colder, but the fresh air and open sky always changes my frame of mind if I’m juggling a million things at once. The geese in the park have been particularly active recently, and it’s not unusual to see five or six different formations fly over, honking to one another. The diving ducks have also returned for the winter. Goldeneyes and Buffleheads are now populating the lake with the usual collection of Mallards. Winter birds always make me think of Gladys Taber. She writes about how the birds that stay over the winter are her true favorites, because they weather the storms with her. She distinguishes this as the difference between true friends and fair weather friends. I couldn’t agree more. I love the chickadees, nuthatches, juncos, and blue jays who visit our feeders in the back yard all year round.
We also celebrated Martinmas on Saturday. We were going to dip candles, but the entire process was curtailed because the wax I bought smelled TERRIBLE, and the dipping pot was too light and floated to the top of the double boiler. Sigh. I will try and procure new wax and a new pot and try again another time. We salvaged the night by making yummy roasted carrot and parsnip soup and lighting candles. Martinmas is all about nurturing your inner light during the darkest time of the year, a message I always feel I need to be reminded of as the days grow shorter. For more on the holiday click here.
Next week we are planning a slow Thanksgiving at home. I’m so excited to cook some delicious food, and have a chance to relax. We also might be getting a certain tree for another certain holiday at the end of next week… Is it too soon?
The days of October are filled with so much magic. I’ve been walking almost every single day for the last month, and it’s been incredible to see the slow shift around me. The light is certainly enchanted looking. The shadows are beginning to stretch further and further. I think I’m unusual in that I love the darkening of the year. As someone who doesn’t often feel anything spiritual is present in my life, this time of year creates an opportunity for me to reflect and to have quiet space to think. I think I’m the only one who is happy that daylight savings is over! I’m ready to light candles and to create a warm space in the home.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about crows. Sometimes portrayed as sinister, sometimes as tricksters, crows represent magic and healing. This time of year it’s not unusual to see a whole tree filled with crows, cawing and cackling as they eat acorns. I’m not sure if they migrate, but I suppose they must for they gather in such enormous numbers. I saw a huge flock while walking last week, zooming back and forth between the elm and oak trees at the edge of the park. I’m so grateful for their presence, as it encourages me to think about magic even in my little corner of the world.
I’ve also been thinking about the crow’s message of healing, especially during some of these hard weeks for our country. It can feel isolating and frustrating when we are faced with hard news, and I don’t know if I have any answers. What I do know is that things often feel less lonely under an open sky, and things feel better when we connect with one another. Reach out, send a letter, make a phone call, write an email. Send some magic and healing into the world.
A few weeks ago we were in Sedona, AZ for a short visit to my grandparents. Though much of our time was spent with them, we did explore the beautiful desert around where they live. One specific afternoon, my mom and I walked while it was raining. The air in Sedona smells of pine and dust, and the rain intensified the aromas and cooled the hot day a little. We saw some hawks up in a tree along our way, and even heard one calling from his perch. The red and yellow leaves we spied had turned from the heat if you can believe it! It felt odd to see those colors of cooler weather in the desert in the middle of July. We also encountered a dead tarantula on the side of the road… I am happy to report that this was the only arachnid of this variety we saw, dead OR alive.
Walking in the rain was peaceful and rejuvenating, reminding me once again of the importance of our daily rhythms even when away from home. It was so lovely to soak in the beauty of a new landscape, and equally lovely to return to our comparatively verdant surroundings at home.
Hazy, scummy, and sparkling with little gnats and flies, it lulls me to sit beside it. The pond in summer. Its stillness intensifies in midday, the geese are dormant on the bank, ducks float and bob sluggishly, but there is a strange paradox at work. Through the muggy slowness of the afternoon, dragonflies zip in and out of view, landing once on this cattail, then on that weedy tuft. Pelicans too gyrate in the water, dipping under briefly for a swallow of fish. They swim in synchronization, an odd echo of Swan Lake perhaps, as they dip and glide and turn. Here, I am in this moment.
There is a word for pelicans: primeval. They seem like harbingers of luck, guardians of a different kind of age. In flight too, they seem impossible, black wingtips suddenly and thrillingly visible. It seems like I need them. Or perhaps it’s just hard to imagine the hardened blue-white lake in winter without them. Now they settle on the water, gathered as they drift, ducking under, then emerging again.
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I will be back soon with some photos from July 4th and some gardening updates.
Kevin and I spent last weekend visiting our Alma Mater, Kenyon College in Ohio. We went to celebrate WKCO’s 70th birthday and to say goodbye to the old radio station (they are knocking down the station this summer to build a new home for WKCO). We both worked for the station during college – I was the programming director and Kevin worked as the intern director and social media director – so of course this occasion was bittersweet. Nevertheless, it felt good to have a last moment in the booth, looking at old records and chatting, and in a way it felt as though nothing had changed. To celebrate, the station held a big music festival on Saturday, featuring student bands as well as bands from out of town. It was lovely so see so many friends and familiar faces and to say a last goodbye to an important part of my time at Kenyon.
We spent our days strolling around campus, drinking coffee, and meeting with favorite professors. It was a perfect way to say a final farewell to my college years (I daresay I won’t visit again until my five year reunion). Circling back to college, I remembered how much I loved Kenyon, the people I met there, and everything I learned, yet it felt as though this part of my life has come to a close. I was surprised that visiting again made me feel more at peace with graduation. It’s lovely to be back home, at my desk, and looking forward to pursuing graduate school and writing poetry.
Yesterday we were home in time to celebrate Easter with a simple – but delicious! – dinner. I’ll be back soon with a bit more on our Easter celebrations (we celebrate Easter as the fertility and new growth of spring rather than as a Christian holiday). Hopefully I’ll have time to dye some eggs this evening…