About once a month I dig through my scribbled notes, jarbled texts (to myself) and entries in a small little notebook I drag around with me everywhere. There is a randomness to my thought process. A hundred broken narratives. A hundred maps to nowhere.
Sometimes I’ll be driving and I “voice text” myself a word. Noticer. Keen. Fence. Socks. Sometimes it’s a line from a book or something I feel like I absolutely must look up:
Freud said “we must love or we will die”.
The time between dog and wolf.
The Year of Magical Thinking.
Sometimes I write down fragments of a dream. If I don’t jot down a few things immediately on waking, the dream goes straight to vapor and is lost forever.
Random thoughts all woven together into the fabric that makes up my days. And we all know: ” How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives” -Annie Dillard Right ?
It has taken all of my 59 years to have some acceptance and embrace who I am, mismatched swatches and all. My days are finally reflecting who I am. At the end of this post I’ll share my walk from today. How I spend these days IS how I’m spending my life.
Here is a found photo of my sister and I from, what, fifty years ago ? It was taken by my aunt and I’m guessing she staged it so that we would be looking away from the camera. Can’t you just hear it ? “Now, don’t look right at the camera. I want a candid shot. Pretend you’re looking at something else”.
I think about that Bonnie a lot these days. There were seeds planted then about who I would become. There were expectations and ideals I was supposed to strive for. But I was the kid who loved to draw and tell stories. I was the kid that knew she was different even back then.
I was a tomboy. I wore t-shirts and blue jeans. I hated that the boys could take off their shirts on those hot summer days, but I couldn’t. I hated dresses and dolls and dress-up. When the neighbor kids and I played Partridge Family, I always got to be Keith. I had good hair and I knew all the words.
I have three terrible “dress memories” that have never left me: The Oregon Grinder pizza parlor in a long dress ( I think I was 12 and I was completely mortified), the Swedish dress I had to wear for a Girl Scout thing in a church basement and that girl scout dress itself. Traumatic, all of them, even now. I was never, ever THAT girl.
I like this Bonnie. A little hair flip, a grin, Keds boat shoes and the pants I’m sure my Mom made on her old Singer sewing machine. It was what Mom’s did in the 60’s and 70’s. And as kids, wearing these creations, was what we did.
This was the age where I began to discover I had wings. But it was also the age they they would be slowly and carefully clipped. Who knew I would spend the next fifty years desperate for the approval of those who never cared to know my heart. Those people who saw who I could be, but never who I actually was. When we don’t know a persons heart, we don’t know anything.
Here, I was in my own creation of a “super-hero” mask. I was a creative kid, always drawing and making up games. Stories and “make-believe” fueled an imagination that is as active and wild now as it ever was then. I wonder what super power I dreamed of when I was a young girl ? It was impossible to know that in 50 years, as a woman in the world, you would wear the cloak of invisibility whether you wanted to or not. Honestly, what is the true age of being seen, and when do we begin to slowly disappear ?
But I digress.
Back to my fleeting thoughts.
The one that really grabbed me was “the time between dog and wolf“. It’s actually translated from the French expression: “Entre Chien et Loup”. “Between dog and wolf“. It is described by a French linguist as ” that time of day when the light is such that it becomes difficult to distinguish between a dog and a wolf, between friend and foe, between known and unknown”…
(Maybe it could go for coyote too)
I love this so much. As the days get longer, I’ll focus on both beginnings and endings. Both dawn and dusk. The time between a dog and wolf happens at civil twilight. Already my favorite time of day, perhaps now even more so with this new definition.
I fancy myself a keen observer; attentive and mindful. Something I heard in an audiobook gave me a new term: noticer. It’s like the “active” piece of mindfulness. I am a noticer. Maybe my real superpower is to see the otherwise unseen in the world around me.
My year at the refuge has taught me patience and the value of simply paying attention. I notice more. I question more. I’m definitely more curious than I’ve ever been. My walk this morning was no exception. I ran into two new friends today and had two delightful experiences.
The coyote was out and wandering. A friend shared she had seen the bigger of the two earlier out near the boardwalk. Maybe yesterday’s encounter was with a different coyote ? This youngster is redder and has a smaller frame. I love that there are people I can learn so much from. Kindred spirits.
After we parted ways I ran into another friend who joined me in my search for the American bittern. He must be my lucky charm because we found it right away ! Perfect light and a clear shot. A photographers dream.
This bird might make it into my Feathered Friday post. Now I’m REALLY curious. This is a “lifer” bird for me. I’ve never seen one and I am beyond ecstatic ! Thanks for indulging me again. Check back Friday if you’re as interested in this bird as I am 😊
Thanks for writing Navreet ! Yes, “noticer” is such a great word. I remember delivering mail to places with small waiting rooms and not one person would even look up. Seemed sad to me even then. The world is an amazing place if only we pay good attention!
“Noticer” is definitely a super power! I love that. I tell my kids all the time that paying attention is the new super power these days as I watch everyone staring at their phones all the time. I’ll wait for Friday’s post! 🙂
What a delight to find pictures of the things I missed seeing today! The coyote has never been more handsome.
Thanks for writing, Keitha ! Yes, this youngster is handsome for sure and today Susan saw both coyotes ! Can’t wait to visit Nisqually in the snow !
Love this so much. So, so much. The story of your aunt’s picture made me smile. So different from “say cheese,” eh? You are definitely a noticer. I’m trying to pay better attention in the woods, thanks to your inspiration. But so far, I never see anything at all. (And never have enough time.)
That is the word that came to mind, when I saw the look in your eye, and across your face, in that first picture. Not yet a BonFyre, but the fire is definitely lit inside that little ‘tomboy’! Bravo, Bon… Bravo…*
Thanks, Mare ♡ Yes, not quite BonFyre yet but those seeds were planted too. Cheers to fires of all variety ! Thanks for wrting.
Thank you for this, Gretchen. (I have to say I was excited to see the hair ice at the refuge. You’ve been writing about some great forest things !) Always, it’s in the tiny detail that the magic lies. Thanks for writing.
By the way, Gretchen, you could always sign up to follow my blog by email. It’s always nice to hear from you 😉
“Between dog and wolf.” I’m going to use that term around here. “Subnivean zone” is a new term I learned today. ❄️❄️❄️ Your photos and words are, as always, evocative and beautiful.
Don’t you just love that description ? Thanks for the always kind words, now I’m off to go look up that word of yours ! Thanks for writing.