Arranging the Pieces

Let’s all take a deep breath. 

So many thoughts are swirling about what I should do now and what the future holds. Often, I catch myself and remember the very wise words of my teacher/friend Karen Maezen Miller:

“No one has to master living in the now. It’s impossible to live anywhere else. Just as you can never leave now, no one will ever take away your past or withhold your future. Effortlessly, your past accumulates. Instantly, your future arrives. What matters is that you notice your life while you can still call it “alive.” That’s now.”

(You can follow her blog here. It is good for the heart and soul these days)

Stopping, even for just this moment and closing our eyes is the key to staying present in this quite extraordinary time. Yes, a deep breath in and a full exhale out.. If I can BE HERE NOW, I’ll be okay. 

Inhale, exhale, repeat. 

I want to contribute something positive and hopefully sharing my adventures will do that. You won’t catch me posting charts or graphs or articles about “flattening the curve”. You know where to go for that information. I’m hoping to steer your thoughts ever so slightly away from the gloom and doom of it all and remind you of what is still plentiful and accessible and beautiful. 


I’m not sure why it took me 50 some-odd years to really sharpen my awareness and interest in the world around me. I hiked in my younger days but it was more social and sport than with any real awareness or interest. Even 11 years ago when I started to get back outside, I was really doing it for exercise and to “flatten a different curve”. 

The last several years have seen me begin to see myself as a part of this big jigsaw puzzle. Surprisingly, I am understanding myself to be one of those pieces full with rounded edges looking for a place to slide into. I am definitely a piece looking for my puzzle. 

I imagine I’m not alone in trying to squeeze into a space I don’t comfortably fit. I do that with wood and cardboard puzzles too. I push the edges into a space where the fit is not right. This is a terrible way to approach the problem. Just because the look and shape are the same doesn’t mean the piece belongs. Maybe even the most obvious fit is little more than a trick of perception and reality. 

The only place my pieces seem to effortlessly slip into is the wild places. “Social distancing” is actually become a good excuse to stop trying to squeeze my awkward shape into a puzzle where I don’t belong. I belong in nature. It never disappoints and I can never be too close. 

So I’m sharing that with you. 

Virginia Woolf wrote : “Arrange whatever pieces come your way”. And so be it.

The songbirds are noisy as spring arrives. I’ve been taking my digital camera along on some of my adventures to capture the sweet little bird bodies populating the trees. I’m trying to learn and listen for their calls. Some you can even identify by the shape and speed of their wings. 

There are nests everywhere as the earth begins, again it’s cycle of birth and growth. I have noted a very noisy crow family populating our giant cedar tree in the back. There must be a nest. There is another crow regularly showing up in our beautiful birch up front. Or maybe a family member of the cedar group, carefully watching for danger. 

I’m determined to visit every National Wildlife Refuge that appears on the map during my travels. I’m learning to identify hawks and eagles and other raptors. I am beginning to learn about marshes, wetlands and estuaries. I’m putting boots on dirt, gravel and the wood planks of boardwalks. 

This was going to be my year for car camping and backpacking. The sudden loss of my good friend just days ago still has me reeling. She was my teacher in a way and a friend in every other. She was my safe place to dream about starry nights and the moon. With her gone, I don’t know that I’ll attempt these things on my own. My confidence is shaken but my spirit is still strong.

She taught me to embrace my nerdiness about birds and my fascination with wild places. I know the difference between the face of a harrier and an owl. I can identify a hawk differently from a juvenile eagle. I know the bald eagles essentially earn their snowy white feathers with age. I can identify a bird a half mile away in the sky just by the span and speed of it’s wings. Some seem to glide effortlessly. Those are my spirit animals. 

I didn’t get to say goodbye. And there is so much confusion over how you left, that it breaks my heart a little more each day I don’t have an answer. Closure is important. Pulling together a circle to make it whole is essential for a healing heart. I miss you and all the things you had left to teach me. 

I’ve been driving too far and visiting too many places that Yoda can’t go. Today, after I’m done writing (in the tub, on my phone, mind you) I will leash him up and head out to another park or two. I fit easily into the puzzle that he is, and he fits easily with me.

Onward to new places. 

I’m being cautious and I hope you all are too. It has a lot of pros and cons to be sure. I miss the hugs though. Human connection is so important with the people you love. And a connection with nature is right up there too.

Here’s my list for today:

Do something outside. Find a way to do a kindness for others.Connect with people in the ways you can.Make a call. Write a letter.Weed the garden. Treat yourself to something beautiful ♡

Enjoy now. 

Occupy the space you occupy. 

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