Gratitude

This morning started out rough as the weight of all we’re enduring hit me. Sometimes I wish I could live in a happy state of denial (“the pandemic is over and X, Y, Z aren’t happening, either!”), and eagerly greet each new day. Alas, I’m not wired that way.

The good news is, I’m feeling better now.
The birds are singing and the sun is shining.
Gratitude!

Backyard. August 4, 2022

And I’m forever grateful that sunflowers exist.

My Five Touchstones

Like many others, I’ve been struggling under the weight of reality. (I started to list the many crises here then realized there’s no need to drag me or my readers down yet again). The point it, stuff’s really hard. Some days I’m not sure how to keep going. Those feelings were so strong a couple mornings ago that I was compelled during my intuition activation session to ask “What’s the point?”

I received five words:
Joy              Nature               Compassion               Justice               Peace

They immediately resonated with me and are my new touchstones for keeping me afloat. When I start feeling overwhelmed and defeated, I return to those five words. Today, I dedicate this post to them.

For instance, the JOY I felt when watching Emma enthusiastically splash and drink from the stream while hiking last September.

Cataract Lake. September 27, 2021

And on that same hike, glorious NATURE completely rejuvenated my soul.

Cataract Lake. September 27, 2021

The best way to live is by showing COMPASSION for others, as exemplified by this child as he helps a lamb reunite with its mother.

This morning I rejoiced in the news of JUSTICE served in Louisiana after the community organized to defeat Formosa Plastics in its attempt to build one of the world’s largest plastics plants in a Black community. Solidarity!

Finally, there’s always a sense of PEACE when watching birds in our yard, especially in the quiet after a snowfall.

Goldfinch in backyard.  October 24, 2019

Yes, life’s a hard row to hoe. But there are always glimmers of good along the way. Remember: JOY. NATURE. COMPASSION. JUSTICE. PEACE.

Twofer Tuesday: nuthatch edition

Last week I spotted a White-breasted Nuthatch at the feeder and snapped two quick photos. All I got was a blurred image followed by an empty feeder tray. As I peered out the window, trying to locate the nuthatch again, it hopped up onto the window sill right in front of me. My subject was just inches away! Once again, it moved too quickly for me to photograph, disappearing as quickly as it’d appeared.

But then the nuthatch took pity on me and posed on the rail with a safflower seed in its beak.

September 8, 2022

And it even gave me a profile shot.

Such a thoughtful feathered friend.

Climate Movement Monday: stop the Willow Project

Welcome to the second “Movement Monday” post in which I provide info on how to take quick and direct action in support of frontline communities. As I posted here, the Inflation Reduction Act includes “poison pills” that adversely affect poor communities of color and Indigenous people. It’s vital that privileged people such as myself lend support and voice to their fights. I hope you’ll join me.

Today’s climate action is in solidarity with Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic (SILA) in their fight against the Willow Project, a massive oil project pushed by ConocoPhillips in Alaska’s fragile western Arctic. (Here’s more background info on the Willow Project).

More then an oil reserve. This land is rich with what has sustained the Iñupiat Peoples since time immortal.
Photo by Keri Oberly

What I’m asking today is for you to take a couple minutes to demand the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) revoke ConocoPhillips’s permits. Here’s where you can find the letter template to submit your comments. As always, it’s okay to send the letter as-is! It’s also much appreciated if you can personalize the letter a bit. (Note: I often rework the first paragraph or two, and then leave the other wording as is or delete it. The point is, you want your message to be “NO to the Willow Project!”)

Thank you in advance for taking climate action on behalf of a frontline community!! ✊🏽

“This project being pushed in our current climate crisis is devastating. The Bureau of Land Management continues to be the yes-people for oil and gas exploitation, no matter the cost to health or our climate. Although oil companies are making record profits, the message being pushed is our administration needs to open more leases to reduce gas prices. We do not have time to debate overseas or domestic oil extraction, we have to transition away from new fossil fuel projects. Biden made a promise to the people who voted him in and is failing at keeping his word. Biden can still be on the right side of history, someone who stood up for a livable earth for future generations.”

– Siqiñiq Maupin; Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic

Bobcat next door

Emma’s barking got me out of bed at 6:00 this morning. Turned out, there was a bobcat on the other side of our fence. Zippy saw it when he went to investigate and I was consumed by envy after he came inside and described peering over the fence at the growling bobcat.

Ah, well, I thought. Maybe someday I, too, will  have a bobcat sighting.

Fast forward five hours when I was in my writing room with the window open and heard a strange sound coming from outside. It took a moment for my brain to kick in: growling bobcat! Emma’s brain kicked in right after mine and she began barking near the fence. I looked out my window and, sure enough, the bobcat had returned to the yard next door.

As it listened to the barking Emma, the bobcat’s tail moved side-to-side. Oddly, it moved more like a wagging dog’s tail than an irritated cat flicking its tail. The unperturbed bobcat remained there until Zippy came out into the yard to get Emma to stop barking. At that point, Zippy didn’t know what was happening, but the bobcat went on alert at Zippy’s approach.

After assessing the situation, the bobcat leapt onto the back fence. (Look at the size of those back paws!)

It settled in to watch Zippy and Emma for a bit as I continued to snap photos from the second-story window. When first photographing the gorgeous cat, I saw a flash of white on one ear and thought maybe it’d been tagged by a wildlife agency.

Then I realized both ears had white patches. I’d known about the tufts on their ears, but learned today bobcats have false eyes on the backs of their ears. I didn’t capture any images of both ears so here’s a photo from the linked site. I knew about false eyes on moths and butterflies, but was unaware mammals also have them.

Wow. Wow. Wow. And as if the bobcat excitement wasn’t enough, a few minutes later I looked out another window and was gifted the sight of a Turkey Vulture riding the air currents. I watched for several minutes, filled with gratitude for the local wildlife. This day’s a WIN!

 

Twofer Tuesday: grasshopper edition

This robin held those two grasshoppers in its beak for about ten minutes. When I first spotted it on the wire, I refrained from running for my camera because I was sure it would fly off and I didn’t want to miss watching it. I was curious about how it would ingest two grasshoppers at once.

July 29, 2022

But after several minutes of the bird staying put while turning its head side-to-side, I went for the camera AND took the time to switch out the lenses. Still there! I took a bunch of shots, playing with the settings, and then went back to watching. Soon, a house finch landed on the wire a few feet away. It also appeared curious about the robin’s intent. Then, from off in the distance, another bird flew toward the wire. Before I could identify it, the finch and robin took off.

They knew what was up: a Cooper’s Hawk! The raptor landed in the tree, but all its potential meals had disappeared. We were both disappointed. I’ll never know if that robin was able to eat both grasshoppers.

Bee grateful

Today I’m grateful for many things, including the pollinators in my backyard. Here’s a sampling of the different species I spotted. A hardworking honey bee on the fern bush:

A cheery bumble bee tucked deep in one of the many sunflowers blooming right now:

I believe this is a rusty spider wasp (a better image than what I captured last summer):

And a black wasp that was very, very busy — moving from bloom to bloom and then suddenly circling my head before flying away over the sunflowers and out of sight:

No butterflies or hummingbirds in this session, despite this being The Summer of Hummingbirds. I’ve heard and seen more hummingbirds these past months than the twenty-five years I’ve lived here.

A bouquet for me and thee

Yesterday was emotionally rough for me and upon waking this morning, I feared sinking into that dark place again. So, I vowed to keep myself occupied all day. We took Emma for a walk before it got too hot and after that, I cleaned, did laundry, wrote, did my yoga and hooped for a while. Somewhere in there, I also took a short nap with Loki-cat on my chest.

It’s now 7:00 p.m. and I made it through the day without tears. Might not seem like a lot, but today’s success gives me confidence and momentum for tomorrow. I’m celebrating with this wildflower bouquet.

Routt National Forest. July 12, 2022.

This bouquet is also offered up to anyone else struggling out there. You aren’t alone. You are beautiful and enough, just as you are. Keep shining your light.

Bunny Monday

Here’s a bunny for your Monday.

July 3, 2022

May you channel the attitude of the many bunnies in my neighborhood this coming week, exhibiting confidence along with a steely disregard for that which doesn’t concern you.

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:
beautiful surprises along the trail,

Lynx Pass Campground. July 13, 2022

creatives & their creations,
hitting SEND on a brand new manuscript to my agent,
rain last night & cooler temperatures today,
and my family, friends, and comrades in this beautiful & brutal world.

Exploring the sunflower theme

When we returned from our walk around the neighborhood this morning, I spotted these two extra-tall sunflowers peering at us over the fence.

July 26, 2022

I took their photo with the intention of a Twofer Tuesday post. But after downloading the images from the camera, I discovered some sunflower pics Zippy had taken last week.

Sunflower plus an upright male Goldfinch:

Sunflower plus an upside down Goldfinch:

And a whole lot of sunflowers plus an almost-disappeared Goldfinch:
July 20, 2022

Did you spot him in that tangle of green and yellow? If not, check the  upper right corner.

A little magic for this Monday

The morning we had to leave the Routt National Forest, we went down to the pond where the light was soft and golden.  I got up from the boulder to wander with my camera and heard a chip chip chip coming from the willows. Tiptoeing, I moved closer and closer still, scanning. Who was making that sound?

After about ten minutes of quiet stalking, a sudden movement caught my eye. A bird alighted in a pine tree. I quickly aimed the camera into the shadows and took a series of photos, not sure what I was seeing or whether I was even capturing an image. And then the bird disappeared again.

When we returned to our campervan, I downloaded the photos. Not great images, but hopefully enough detail to identify the bird. With Stan Tekiekla’s BIRDS OF COLORADO FIELD GUIDE on my lap, I studied the best image. Some kind of warbler?

Wilson’s Warbler.  July 14, 2022

I glanced down to consult the field guide which had fallen open on my lap. Right there in front of me was the Wilson’s Warbler page and the photograph looked exactly like my photo! Exactly the same, except my warbler’s tail is up and Mr. Tekiela’s image is much sharper.

I’m smiling as I remember that moment of recognition because it truly felt like magic. And I don’t know about you, but these days I’ll take all the magic I can get. As the sticky note on my bathroom mirror says, MAGIC WELCOME HERE.