In the soft heart of June

 

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June whispers in my ear, beckoning me to stop and drink her in.

Her discordant song echoes in layers, defying the mathematics of music.
What is this confused passion?
This abstraction — perfectly balanced?
The treble of the gnat,
The bass of the bullfrog,
The trill whistle of the bird,
Never a more tangled rhythm beats in the soft heart of June.

Each creature moves to the drumbeat of the Flower Child,
who’s finest garb is strewn about her messy room.
The amber and cerulean bluebird stands guard outside his nest, while his bride arranges her cradle.
The hummingbird skillfully hovers, his wings beating a buzz, before he jets off to fight for his place in the sky.
The turtle lazes in the warmth of the sun, atop a fallen tree, while the dragonfly jettisons across the water.
June’s energy is endless and her laughter rings through the trees.

Paintbrush in hand, she strokes the lightest of light.
Her hand does not shy from the darkness of night.
Her skies churn charcoal grey and electric blue,
and palette knives scoop white upon white.
Her petals scream color,
Her fireflies ignite,
A climax of wonder, the longest day of light.

June brushes soft against my skin.
I stop, quiet, and give myself to her.
Resigned, there are no words fit to describe her wild beauty.
She spins, slowly, in pirouette,
Then, on this, the first day of summer,
I watch her laugh as she begins to dance away.

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Photo by Amy Treasure

Your life, your signature…

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“Despite overall similarities, each nest identifies it’s maker as surely as an artist’s signature”
Maryjo Koch

 Mommy… Did you know that your nest bears your signature?
When you stand back, what do you see?
I remember the days when my children were small.
My girlfriend would come over with her little battalion of boys
and I would make a pile of french toast.

The children would dress up and run barefoot in the grass.
They would make mud balls in the puddles.
There was laughter.
It wasn’t always neat, but it was always pretty.
It wasn’t expensive, but it was enough.
My nest was full of life.

What does your nest say about your life?
Is there music?
Does a candle flicker, adding a glow to your kitchen?
Have you taken your little one out to plant a seed?
Is there laughter?
Do you have time to drink it in?
Do you find yourself crying tears that flow from a pool of gratitude and love?

Who cares if it gets a little messy, just make sure it’s pretty.
Blanket forts are pretty.
Children in footy pajamas, surrounded by piles of books —
That’s pretty.
The mess of life —
That’s neat.

Or is the place in front of the television,
or the iPad in the lap,
or the phone in the hand — is that stuff of your day?
They will remember
and may become too dull to care.
Don’t allow entertainment to smother the life and creativity out of your children.

Take your little one out to watch the hopping robins tug worms out of the soft ground.
Take them out to pick daffodils and teach them to rub the soft petals on their cheeks.
Help them find the tiny buds that line the branches of spring.
Light a candle and use the fancy tea cups.
Write your signature with flare.
Today won’t come again.

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Maryjo Koch, Bird Egg Feather Nest,
via Meditations for Mothers, Elisa Morgan
Photo credit: Julie Falk 

Growing Season

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There are four cars in the driveway now — if I get too close to the edge as I pull in, my tires inevitably slip off and sink deeply into the mud. The slimy ruts fill with water.
Action item:
• Haul in stone to extend driveway.

The grass is greening and the birds have grown loud, as they always do in the Spring.
As I look out the window of the hearth room, I catch a glimpse of a bluebird darting in to build it’s nest in the box on the back porch.

I scan the changing landscape and wonder when it will be dry enough to till.
Never it seems.
Spring always comes in with a soaking that lasts for weeks.
We’ll have to watch for the one weekend that comes — there’s only one.
On that weekend, the ground will be dry enough to till.
Miss it and lose.
Of course, last year, and the year before, and the one before that, and so on,
we were watching soccer games on that one dry weekend.
Hm. Not this year.
No spring soccer for the boy.

I dig into the cold dirt in one of my garden boxes- it’s full of worms, and I smile.
There is a constant rhythm — I believe I hear the beat.
It’s time for another growing season.

Time for my son to graduate.

One day soon, he will leave and take his contagious laughter with him.
He will pack up his crazy shrieks and silly songs and the kisses he plants on the top of my head.
Gone will be the thud of his giant, plodding feet.
My cupboards will no longer suffer the wrath of his vacuum powered appetite.

The halls will grow quiet and hollow with the lack of him.

It’s Saturday and he’s in Nicaragua. He will return and bring with him the final countdown.
And while he’s not leaving immediately, it seems the whole world is about to change.

But for today, it’s time to plant seeds,
for in spite of the mud and the muck, and the fact that I can’t till —
the ground is warming and it’s time for another growing season.
The grass is greening and the birds are growing louder,
and the ruts along my driveway are full of water.

The nose pickers

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By the time fourth period rolls around, it’s going on 2:00 and the 4-6 year old children are tired. When I come in, I know I have about 15 minutes to teach the most important parts of my lesson before I start losing them to the play things that surround us in the room. Fortunately, my theatrics are good and the children are enthusiastic. We learn about birds, their homes and their habits. The children sit up on their feet, in tiny blue chairs, and prop their elbows up on the octagonal table that they surround. They are fabulous. At this point in the day, all the hair is marvelously messy — bows are askew and many shoes are untied. They stare at me, wide eyed, as I talk about the size of a hummingbird egg or where an eagle makes it’s nest. The children gasp audibly as they imagine that the woodpecker can actually eat a frog and the red tailed hawk can swoop down and pick up a field mouse with it’s strong talons.

It’s a sweet time… well… except for one thing — and can I just be up front here?
They pick their noses.
They pick. their. noses.
And when I ask them if they need a tissue, they sweetly look up at me and say no.
When I suggestively hand them a tissue- they daintily hold it in one hand, while they pick with the other.
When I whisper to them discreetly, “Please use your tissue — don’t pick your nose,” then, one little darling in particular, will turn her head and bend down a bit in order that she may pick in private.

This drives me to distraction and it’s terribly hard to continue with my lesson whilst suffering through the inner squirm. Since I only have a very short time, for the sake of whatever children are not picking, I have to continue teaching, in spite of whoever is picking.

We always listen to the sound of the bird and then we scroll through bird pictures on my iPad.

Then comes the question — and it always comes.

“Can I swipe it?” And a little finger comes for my iPad.

A tufted titmouse good morning to you…

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There is a small wooden box full of seed that sits on the narrow brick ledge just outside my window. This little guy likes to hop down inside the box to eat. He frequently pops his head up to keep an eye out for predators. He is not a bit afraid as he sees me get up from my chair or reach for things so very near him. He makes me smile.

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The Tufted Titmouse

“A little gray bird with an echoing voice, the Tufted Titmouse is common in eastern deciduous forests and a frequent visitor to feeders. The large black eyes, small, round bill, and brushy crest gives these birds a quiet but eager expression that matches the way they flit through canopies, hang from twig-ends, and drop in to bird feeders. When a titmouse finds a large seed, you’ll see it carry the prize to a perch and crack it with sharp whacks of its stout bill.

Tufted Titmice hoard food in fall and winter, a behavior they share with many of their relatives, including the chickadees and tits. Titmice take advantage of a bird feeder’s bounty by storing many of the seeds they get. Usually, the storage sites are within 130 feet of the feeder. The birds take only one seed per trip and usually shell the seeds before hiding them.

Tufted Titmice nest in tree holes (and nest boxes), but they can’t excavate their own nest cavities. Instead, they use natural holes and cavities left by woodpeckers. These species’ dependence on dead wood for their homes is one reason why it’s important to allow dead trees to remain in forests rather than cutting them down.

Tufted Titmice often line the inner cup of their nest with hair, sometimes plucked directly from living animals. The list of hair types identified from old nests includes raccoons, opossums, mice, woodchucks, squirrels, rabbits, livestock, pets, and even humans.

The oldest known wild Tufted Titmouse lived to be 13 years 3 months old.”

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/tufted_titmouse/lifehistory

Chicken talk

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“Madam: This horrid, white matter, which has been hastily strewn about in great excess, just won’t do. We simply refuse to come out until you see fit to do something about it.”

Borfingtina Whittier, spokeschicken

 

Crawling out of bed tired

Lately, the little things don’t look like backyard adventures.
They look more like shopping for dress pants and cheap ties that might fit the boy for two weeks,
and practices and performances,
and algebra lessons,
and end of semester field trips,
and birthday celebrations,
and meetings,
and big decisions for next year.

The little things look like begging sorry to my honey for leaving bagel crumbs on the  kitchen counter as I go flying out the door.
Looks like forgetting what I came for
and coming back for what I forgot.

Looks like living in the country means we can’t run home and throw in a load.
Looks like we’re getting things halfway done and digging through piles for socks,
Looks like drinking lots of coffee and crawling out of bed tired.
Looks like not finishing anything.

Looks like wondering how other people get all this stuff right,
and then remembering that I’m almost 50 and
most certainly beyond such penchants to compare.
It also looks, conversely and hormonally,
like I’m old enough not to give a flip what anybody else is doing and how.
Looks like I’m glad for my girlfriends- doing whatever their doing,
smiling at me with that knowing smile,
it’s in the little things- even when they go very fast.

Looks like racing out early in the morning to check the baby bluebirds in my bath robe and staying up late listening to the non-stop, run-on sentence plans of two very active, young people. Trucks and cars and apartments and jobs and school and girls and guys and this one and that one and today and forever…
golden sound waves and bleary eyes.

Looks like my husband can’t find me,
but my toes can still find his toes under the covers.

Looks like my boy will drive.
Looks like I will soon be forced to wear shorts again.
Looks like I won’t be getting any younger.
Looks like I don’t know what’s coming next.

Looks like, when it comes to self improvement, my greatest opposition is
myself.

Looks like the little things are imperfect and profound and sweet and that even in the messed up mess of the day, I find myself stopping to say thank you.

Life in little things looks like embracing frustration and reaping joy,
It looks like running on empty and finding it full.
It looks like this life, this very minute.

Photo by Will Whittier@2012

Thank you God for little things,
Thank you for my little people, who aren’t so little anymore,
Thank you for the little moments that add up to big ones.
Thank you for my faulty processes and my little failures,
Thank you for stolen moments and infinite noise.
Thank you for the little things.