I packed up my car yesterday for a few days away. I always bring too much which seems to come from a keen focus on possibility rather than reality. At least that’s what I tell myself. Three cameras, a laptop, a handful of notebooks and pens. One real book. The hope is that I will write. The cameras and book are my distraction when I can’t.
I don’t know what it is about these last several weeks. Empty journals, unwritten letters, a blog full of photos. Expressing myself has become a challenge. I always think a change of scenery will kickstart my creative life but sometimes it becomes little more than a new place to fret over all that isn’t happening.
I took a good walk in the woods yesterday. I saw signs of new life everywhere and I finally saw my first trillium. The wind was whipping the tops of trees together in such a way that the branches sang as they rubbed together. More than once I stopped dead in my tracks thinking I was hearing a new bird -an unfamiliar call- only to realize the tree-tops were playing their own song. I came upon the first brown creeper I’ve seen in these woods too. The song of the creeper is one that I love, partly because their unusually high pitch is one of the first sounds to fall away as our hearing begins to diminish. I find it precious and I never take it for granted.
By late afternoon the temperature had started dropping and the activity became more frenetic. The shriek of the spotted towhee became more insistent and the buzz of the resident Anna’s hummingbirds hit their crescendo. The tree out back was full of loudly chirping black-capped chickadees. They must be nesting nearby and so I spent some time this morning reading about where and how they nest.
It occurs to me I should have brought my tree book. There are so many different trees here it would help me identify some likely nesting spots. (Or I could just explore the shelf here for a book)
I learn that they nest in tree cavities or boxes near eye level. They will also take over the abandoned nests of Downey woodpeckers if gifted such a great opportunity. When the rain stops I’ll go looking.
Even in the rain this morning there is a flurry of activity. The dark-eyed juncos are competing with the chickadees for spots on branches and at the feeder. I spy a lone chestnut-backed chickadee angling for a coveted spot. One Stellar’s jay is making the noise of a dozen lesser birds. Yesterday there were hundreds of geese cackling across the valley and a pair of young eagles circling.
Maybe I’ll write this weekend and maybe I will instead give myself over to the practice of attentiveness. To my breathing. To the birds. To the sounds that inhabit these woods and this cozy retreat. And maybe I’ll do a little of all of these things. Permission to flounder. Permission not to write. A deep bow to paying attention and to loving all of the things I wake up to.
And this little nod to poetry month.
You can find a link to this great airbnb (and so much more) here.