Home. Central time. 5:30am.
Last night I slept like a kid pretending to sleep. This is what it looks like to sleep. Pillow, blanket, eyes shut. Sometimes it worked. I napped for a few minutes. Maybe an hour. Then woke up and looked out at the moon. I did not make tea or go to the porch. This is the problem with being tired and insomniac. You want to sleep. Really, you do. But that brain keeps going clickity, clack down the track. A fun fact about the new novel - it involves two sisters who have inherited the insomniac gene that assails all the women in the family. The men sleep like the dead.
At 5:30 this morning I gave up any thoughts of going back to sleep because of the birds.
It started a long time ago, many, many years ago in fact when Mama and Daddy were at the creek. They spent some years there in retirement if that's what one would call it. They just called it life. They were some of the happiest of their lives. Daddy fished. Mama walked and worked in the flowers. She got some sun and that beautiful pale, skin that doesn't look kin to me got a tan. They both fed 'our birds' as they called them by which they meant the whole swampy creek full of birds. They had multiple feeders with seed For birds who like seed and fruit feeders for birds who loved fruit. They had raccoons that would eat from the porch at night and stare right in the window at them. They had a tribe of wildcats that came up out of the woods and took up residence. We had always had a few dogs and a few cats 'at home' down on the corner of 11th St. but now they had all manner of furry beasts that answered to their call. Even the wild birds came when they called them. They were Tarzan and Jane of Holmes creek.
One day a hawk took up there realizing he'd hit pay dirt. All those birds feeding at feeders were like me passing a fruit stand. I'll have one of those, and a red one and a green one and an orange one and so on. Momma and Daddy became sorely vexed over the situation because they felt attached to the birds that they had watched through this whole circle of life. The mating rituals, the nest building ritual, the baby birds being fed ritual and the fledglings learning to fly ritual.
When I got home recently after days away Mama wanted to tell me she was worried about 'our birds'. Now, this has been an effort of mine to make Mama happy. To hang flower boxes for flowers I don't have time to water so she points out to me - those flowers need watered - but the fact is my efforts to make Mom happy, to paint shutters and plant flowers has resulted in things looking down right lived in around here. Much more like a home than a house where I pull in and go to the computer with blinders on - write, work, write, work.
Now, I've put out multiple feeders. Seed feeders for birds that like seed and fruit feeders for birds that love fruit. Mama tells me she'd seen a hawk out there on more than one occasion the past days gone by and the birds aren't coming to eat at all. She's right. There is seed still down in the feeders. So, when I heard the birds at 5:30 I thought - well, I haven't slept all night why try to sleep now. Just go check on the birds.
Coffee made, to the porch I go.
The rooster is crowing. But it's a different crow. Either it's a new rooster or an old rooster. One finding his crow or losing it. That noise just doesn't sound like the rooster I know. And right I am. Because 'my' rooster answers this crow. Seems that there are now two roosters down the hill now. Maybe they live next door to each other. Down the hill is a good distance for a rooster to be at 5:30 in the morning. It's that kind of poetic ambience you can listen to outside but not one that is crowing at 5:30 in your ear right outside your window.
The birds are singing but only a little. Like they are whisper singing. A mother redbird comes to the feeder but she doesn't relax. She keeps looking up and over her shoulder. The next bird, some kind of finch I'm too tired to get up and get the bird book to identify is so nervous he isn't even getting any seed. He just sits there. Crazy eyed, staring up into the trees.
Bout a hundred years ago, a lifetime away now someone shot that hawk at the creek. Might have been boys on a dare. Or someone that just didn't care. My daddy found him. Brought him to my mother and laid it at her feet on the porch. She looked at the feathers, the span of the beautiful wing and said, 'Oh, how majestic,' through her tears. She still tells me about this. The beauty of that bird. "'They have a right to eat, too," she says, "I just don't want them eating my birds."
I google bird eating hawks. What to do. Move feeders under shelter, it tells me. Good ole google. At 6am it knows just what to do. I go down the steps that need replaced, make a mental note - these steps sure need replaced before they just fall off the house - and gather up the feeders. The seed feeders and fruit feeders and special little suet feeder and bring them back up the rickety steps to the porch and hang them up where I know they will make one heck of a mighty mess. There will be seed everywhere. And other stuff to clean. But, Mama's birds give her some peace.
Eventually, google says, the hawk will grow bored with birds having shelter and move off down the creek somewhere. Go to better hunting grounds. Someone else's backyard feeder.
When Mama gets up she takes her coffee to the porch, says look, "This one hangs upside down. That's just the way he likes it. He's that kind of bird."
These are the brief moments in my life where I know I did good. Where I got it right. And the world hangs for a moment in incredible balance where all is well and all shall be well and all is well with my soul.
Happy Sunday. I pray your soul find peace and comfort today, a perfect balance, in the middle of your busy life. And that you realize more times than not - you did good. You got it right.
ALSO - You can now check out my new Patreon Page here for new ways you can be a part of this wild journey called my writing life. Links for the Undercover Reader Posse, Story Support, the Phonebooth Writer Series and more!
I get up very early on my better days. Preferably about five am. I like to have the quiet of the morning to simply be in the presence of the Divine to the best of my busy brain ability, to at least appreciate the simple moments as the night becomes dawn becoming day. A precious time of the morning. I wake up at that speed and always get creative work accomplished that otherwise is eaten up with the business of to-do lists if I rise as late as eight. Or even seven. To that end I woke just at dawn this morning. I made coffee. Had lit candles in my office and was headed to watch the light outside my window. Then Mama's bedroom door opens and her dog runs out. Ok, fine. Let Duncan out with plans of hustling back to bed. But then Mama comes out dressed like all - Top of the Morning to you!
My mother is not an early riser. This is a well known fact of life. We grew up knowing not to wake her and not to talk to her until she had her coffee because she could be ill in the morning in a mean spirited kind of way. Which is fine with me and sister because we don't want to talk in the morning either. I told Miss Top of the Morning who informed me she had been awake most of the night so she just decided that she was going to get up for awhile and then maybe go back to sleep that I had to go say my prayers. What the translation of this is in everyday language is - Don't talk to me. Don't think about talking to me. Don't make any noise. And don't even THINK ABOUT turning on that television. Then I go up to my office with the candles lit to be all saintly and stuff. Then I sit down to be all thankful for things and realize one of the most thankful things I have to be thankful for is that my Mama is alive and I can sit on the porch with her and have coffee and see the birds. So I get up and go back down stairs and say hey, Mama do you want to sit on the porch and see the birds? And she says Ok. So I make her coffee and go out to the porch.
She says she sure wishes she had a rocking chair on the porch. I tell her we need to get her one of those for the porch. She likes the camp rocking chair that her niece bought her except you can't walk around it. I told her we will take it to the football game if she wants to go. She sits in the chair. The rescue dog Kevin must say good morning which tangles the other dog on the leash. We untangle and sit down dividing dogs among us and look at the birds.
In four.two seconds Mama tells me there is a vine growing that needs to be cut out of a tree. I tell her it would be nice if we could just look at the trees and not start working on my to-do list yet this morning. She says ok. We look at the trees. I tell her how nice and quiet it is. She says yes, I like the quiet. But I kinda get the feeling she is sick of it. It must get a little too quiet while I am at work. I know she misses her corner and her house of fifty years and her neighbors.
Well, the trees are turning and in a few weeks it will look like the Smokies up here. It will be so pretty. She asks me if that is a tree down my hill that just fell over. I tell her yes. She asked me if azaleas grow up here and I tell her I just don't know for sure but I thought I saw some once. She says they sure would be pretty down there if someone could set some out. Of course they would have to put a bunch of big rocks down there to hold the dirt up so it didn't go over the cliff. Yes, I tell her. Maybe someone could do that. She asks me then if Rye grass will grow in the yard if some is thrown out. If there is anything out there for it to hang onto. I tell her there is dirt out there for it to hang onto. That rye grass can find purchase. She said it sure would look better to see some green. That rye grass is really green and she likes green. We happen to be looking out over acres and miles of green as far as the eye can see. She says she likes the light green of rye grass. We sit for a minute looking at all the green that is not rye grass green.
Mama asks me if I got my birthday card from Cousin Deb. I tell her I did not and ask her if she sent it to the house or the po. She says the house. Then she says she does not trust that mailbox. That my birthday card should have come last week. I tell her I just do not know. Then she tells me she has not gotten her bill from Dillards and she should have and I need to call and make sure they have the new address. I tell her it is not seven o'clock and maybe we should just look at the birds and not start on my to-do list. She says ok.
Then the dogs get jealous and cause a problem and need to be petted. And we talk about old dogs and missing Titan and she talks about her little dog that loved her and got ran over and then she is very sad about that. This happened when we were teen-agers. I told her we should just be thankful we have had some really good dogs. She said yes, including my german shepherd that got hit by car when I was a kid and that was just tragic and begins to recount his last hour. I tell her she has now gone from my to-do list to dead dogs. She laughs a little bit and says she will just think of something nice to talk about. We try to go back to the birds.
A hummingbird shows up and that is a happy thing because we thought they were all gone and the feeders had run dry and I thought I had sent them to their doom by running out of sugar when they needed it most. But I found a little and put feeders out full and so at least the stragglers might survive. We identified a blue bird and a dove and heard a crow. It was peaceful for a minute and then Mama said she sure was worried about North Korea. I said, yes everyone is but if he is crazy and sends a missile we will blow up all of North Korea and it will be tragic so let's not talk about it for just a little bit. She said she just wanted to call someone and ask them if they remembered what MacArthur said.
It was quiet for just a minute. Then Mama said, I just want to say one thing about Hitler.
And just like that I decided it was time to go to work.
Wishing you peace this morning in your neck of the woods.
Easter is upon us and up on this hill today the wind whispers, All Is Well. The chimes ring out resurrection. Spring, renewal and all the promise that resides there. I haven't been plugged into the season very well this year. Preoccupations and responsibility. Normally, Easter is one of my favorite times of year for just that promise of new life that springs eternal. The year, I've let the burden of other things weigh heavy on my soul and heart.
A few years ago (how many now) I wrote a daily devotional during lent and posted it on the internet. I've been so blessed by all those who have read it year after year and wrote to me to share that they did so. You crazy people. Oh, how I love you. The thing is, there was nothing special about it. Just a daily email that was life in action. All the messy places. Just simply walking out the day and at the close of day - reflecting. Maybe that's not what I'm doing enough of these days. Pausing to reflect. Ok, I'm certain of it. I rush from morning into evening and then to crashing into bed full of the crazy that is my life.
Granted. This thing I do. Count my blessings. I pause for just that long. And the smile of all the littles, their words, and photos. The Adorables growing now into gorgeous, young women, the little wild wolf pack rambunctious and keeping me on my toes while laughing.
America Mystic is coming to fruition, finally, oh, finally! But still it arrives in due season. Not the book it used to be in rewrite after rewrite. Not the book it used to be anymore than I am the woman I once was. Death and Resurrection. We bear our crosses which sometimes feels like crucifixion. It's not.
I watched a flock of birds this morning in the early hours. All else was sleeping in the house. My mother, my cousin, the dogs, the cat. All was quiet but me, the porch, the birds in flight. Then I noticed, they landed in a tree, paused, took flight again, a little ways, another tree. Coming after them were other birds that reached the tree and paused just after others had taken flight. They moved that way while. I have many trees. I watched them. A tree, flight, a tree, flight. It went on this way. Then I realized one of two things maybe both. I know nothing of birdology so I can make things up as they occur to me which suits me find.
The birds in the first group landed to allow the stranglers to catch up, gain their strength, stay with the flock. Eventually, I felt certain they would arrive together in the fold that waited for them. Some great community of kindred spirits and feathered fellows.
Or, they were just showing me, God showing me, that in flight over those passages of deeper valley's pausing was a righteous thing to do. The pause to gather strength. To rest to realign their focus, their purpose, their destination.
I pray that we each pause this Easter weekend to realize just how far we've come across mountain, valley, distant shores. To realign our purpose with all that is Divine and lives and moves within us. For every sacred moment, illuminated hour.
Together we continue. We've come this far and our journey sacred. In the midst of all of it, there is the power of renewal.
And, so, we begin again.
God bless and keep the faith.
Embrace the cup of communion and pass it on.
This is not funny.
I have mice. Not a mouse. Mice. Plural. Hiding under my house. The bird-feeder hangs at the porch where Mom can easily see the birds. The seeds that they throw all over the porch picking out the sunflower seeds fall through the cracks of the porch straight into the crawl space. I am surrounded by woods and big trees with lots and lots of leaves. And I had plumbing leaks I inherited and didn't know about and so all the insulation under the house got wet and weary. Mix in the scent of dog food wafting from the house and apparently, these things create the perfect storm of calling all mice to micedom come.
I had to have my oil changed. When the mechanic came out and said - I need to show you something, follow me I told him -
Don't show me anything that cost more money because I don't have it. It's better for me to drive in ignorance.
But he said -
You have a nest being built in your engine under the cover and mice have chewed on all of your wires.
The evidence was obvious. A healthy little nest nearing completion. I am just a few days of house building chewing from 1000 dollar replacement charge.
You'll know when they get it all because your car just won't start.
I look at him numbly. No connection.
I have never considered myself a girlie-girl no matter how much I love the smell of strange perfume. In another life I would have been a bush pilot which I guess would require a certain degree of toughness so I try to stay tough just in case a piper cub is given to me as a gift. And - I love luxury. I sure could use some luxury right about now. Room service. For days. Three days of room service would just about fix what ails me. Just about.
Back to the mice and killing creatures.
I was born to create things not kill them. It is my nature to help soothe to take the pain away, to say soft little things like - there, there and everything's gonna be alright.
I also loved the movie Rataouille where the cute, little rat discovers that he can cook like nobody's business. So sweet. My grandmothers old house had rats. Wharf-rats. Huge gangster rats. They are not cute. They cannot cook. I killed them. With poison. It was horrible. I'll spare you the details.
Have you ever watched Cinderella? Well, without those mice she'd still be there today scrubbing up after her mean stepmother and horrid stepsisters. The mice saved her and sewed her a beautiful dress while they sang happy songs. My mice are not singing. I do not believe they are trying to help me have a great night out of dancing till dawn. Matter of fact they don't care about me at all.
I came home and took down the bird-feeder. Momma said,
I wouldn't let some mice keep her from seeing the birds.
I just saw a bird. He was blue. Just beautiful.
That's cause he was hungry cause it's winter and he was looking for the feeder.
I'm standing my ground. No birdseed until this situation is under control.
Soooo, hi ho hi ho it's off to buy some poison that I go. But not the sticky feet paper thing. I can't listen to mice scream because they are stuck to paper. I just. can't. do. it. Thankfully a mouse-slayer is flying in this week to come tackle this issue but I must make certain they don't return.
If anyone has any all natural surefire way to rid me of this problem and protect my engine I'll buy you lunch. It will not be ratatouille.
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