A Place in the Family of Things

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. 
A favorite. 

You can find a link to this great airbnb (and so much more) here.

18 Comments on “A Place in the Family of Things

  1. I am excited to see the shot of the creeper. Such a pretty bird. They move so fast for me here, I hardly ever can catch them. Like the kinglets: zoom, zoom, zoom. Your capture of the Towhee is so fun. And what a precious little chickadee in the super close-up image. <3

    • Thanks, Crystal. Yeah, those creepers don’t really fit the name. Had a really lovely time at the airbnb I stayed. Backyard birding at it’s best!

  2. Lovely pictures of the creeper, towhee, and jay. Glad to see some reminders of spring. Winter has returned here this week with a bit of snow and cold temps.

    • Oh yes, around here too. Cold and damp. I’m feeling really ready for the warm sunny days of spring. And the flowers. I’ll head to the Gorge soon.

  3. Yes, I just browsed the book but since it said Seminary Hill I figured it would be helpful in those woods. I think he even mentioned wild ginger! I look for it carefully every year in honor of Stellajoe 💜

  4. I love this. You know, I’ve never read that “Walking with Rufus” book, and there are at least half a dozen copies here. Some day I will remember to. I love when those huge gaggles of geese rise up honking from their swim in the flooded valley. (I just saw three circling eagles.) And what the above wise ones said about writer’s block. It will return in its time. Meanwhile continue being observant. All will be well.

  5. Taking time for an adventure, and front-loading it with a laundry list of shoulds and mights and hopes to… shackles and expectation… the bane of exploration and discovery and release. So glad your natural curiosity got the better of your calvinist insistence on tidy toil!

    Rely on your well-honed writer’s mentality that when a topic burns your soul, the words will pour forth unbidden and unstoppable. And relax into exploration until that *POPS*

    Exploration is what fills the well … unplanned adventures, walks in nature, the thrill and cacophony of urban streets, the people you meet in cafes and shops… grist for the writing mill. Relax into your gift, Bon. It hasn’t abandoned you. And your readers aren’t either…*

    • I needed to hear all of this. Thanks so much for taking the time. Despite my composition malfunction, I did just lean in to it all. Maybe next time I go somewhere brand new and see where it takes me ❤

  6. It really is as simple as writing what’s in front of you. What you see, how you see it, how it makes you feel… it’s all so enjoyable and resonant. My favorite pic might be that hummingbird with the orange and green that match the plant he’s standing on. How does that sort of thing happen? And the tree branches in the first pic, and the geese over the valley in the last. OK and everything in between. Enjoy the pondering. It’s uncomfortable, but having everything figured out isn’t always best either.

    • I’m not quite to the point of being able to laugh about it, but tonight I managed to delete the entire sum of work of my weekend. Really. And while the writing may indeed be simple, saving it, evidently is not. Sigh. I have had a lovely couple days here and I’m always so gratified you enjoy the photos. These beautiful birds make it easy. Thanks for the encouragement 💞

  7. So much gratitude to you. Gratitude for your words, your stunning photography, your insights, your timing, your sharing, your honesty and authenticity…..and even the book recommendation. “Thank you” seems insufficient…..but…..Thank You. 🙏🏼

    • Oh, Karen, what a lovely note 💜
      I’m so grateful for the kind words and abundant encouragement. I hope to thank you in person one of these days. Thank you for being here.

  8. Beautiful. Your words, her words, your birds (that blue jay!), and especially that face in the barrel! 😮 Over the moon happy at the sight of it! I have no worries about you. You always do exactly what is right in every given moment. Greetings from Tuscany to your retreat.

    • Thank you so much, Manja. I love that you enjoyed the face in the barrel 😎 It’s a very cool place I’m staying. And yes, I’ll try not to worry about me either !

Leave a Reply to Bonnie RaeCancel reply

%d bloggers like this: