It was marvelous!
It is winter here, more often gray than not. Sometimes everything has seemed gray, neither this color nor that. Just – gray. I have been very ill, sliding steadily downward for some months culminating finally in leaving my bed for only very short periods. In times like those, I am easily haunted by “what if” whispers. I pray for the graces God knows I need, I distract myself with books, puzzles and TV if the migraine monster isn’t visiting. Since he’s been visiting far more often than not (and bringing his other ME/CFS buddies with him), well, “gray” is the nicest description I can manage.
But today – ahh today! Marvelous!
Today in this winter place, gray did not dominate. The sun shone in a brilliantly blue sky and lured me as memories surfaced of how I’ve coped in the past. Whispers, promises…”Come and see, you know I show you treasures, come and see…”
Yes, I know, I sound loony but I’ve always been a bit of an oddball – not such a bad trait, I’ve come to think.
Unable to resist the lure and remembering that forcing myself outside for even a few minutes has been one of my survival tools during the long decades of this disease, I decided to go out. Wanting all the good things that sunlight can bring, I left off sunscreen and sunglasses – another of my survival tools to let my skin contribute to the making of vitamin D and my eyes be the conduits of chemical balancing. It doesn’t take long, only a few minutes.
I bundled up and leaning on my cane told my husband with a smile “If I don’t come back, check behind the hill.” I knew that a walk down the road was not within my reach, but with the benches set around the yard, I should be able to make the circuit. And out the door I went.
WOW it is COLD out here! But oh, the sun is shining, I hear birds!
I began to walk toward the hill, intending to go around the back of it and taking my usual route. I stopped. “I always go this way, counterclockwise” I thought and abruptly changed my direction to the opposite.
I walk to the property line and pause, lifting my face to the sun. Looking down again, I see the section of split rail fence my husband put here years ago and realize there is lichen growing on it. Here is life on dead wood. Whole colonies are thriving; the wood long dead yet here is new life. I find myself smiling and whispering, “New life on dead wood” thinking I’d found today’s treasure. As the pitchmen say, though, “But wait! There’s more!”
I came to the side of the pond, smiling at the churned up tracks of all the animals that come to drink here, smiling too at the sight of a junco sneaking a sip under the brush at the base. I think how nice it is for the animals that a recent thaw caused the ice to recede a few inches and give them open water at the edges. It is too cold to sit and watch as I would normally do, so I move on.
As I reach the side of the hill, I find my gaze drawn upward and though I know I can’t follow that path today, I am still happy in the cold breeze and the brilliant sun. How could I have forgotten how much this effort always lifts my spirit?
I stop in my tracks.
Did I just see what I think I did?
Ohh! There it is again! What a jewel in the sun and right in front of me! As brilliant as the bluest sky is the male Eastern Bluebird not twelve feet away. He dips to the ground then up to a branch, glowing in the winter sun. Another! I know they are shy so I don’t move. After a moment of watching, they seem to decide I am not a threat and resume their typical dip-and-up feeding pattern. I watch until the cold bites so hard I must move, but grinning now so widely I chuckle inside to think how I must look.
Suddenly I realize I am surrounded out there behind the hill by woodpeckers, juncos, chickadees, and too many more to name. Such life! Such abundance! My God does this! I am transported with a joy I have not felt in a long time. “Thank you – thank you!” I whisper both inside myself and out.
I make my way back toward the house, excited by the thought of telling my husband what I’ve seen. The neighbor’s dog catches sight of me and begins to bark. I know him to be a big baby who probably doesn’t recognize the figure in the bulky winter coat as someone he knows. So I call to him in silly talk and begin to walk toward that side of the property. I have the neighbor’s permission to visit the dog anytime I like and I decide that maybe I can manage it.
Just then my neighbor comes outside to see why the dog is barking, seeing each other we call out and meet by the dog for a visit. Silly, giant dog, delighted that I’ll toss his slimy Frisbee for him, makes us both laugh; so tough – such an act. More delight for me.
Suddenly my strength leaves me and I must head inside quickly – but I am still smiling. How could I have forgotten how much these little things help? The migraine monster is coming back as I type this but even he can’t touch my joy today.
Life growing on dead wood,
Bluebirds upstaging the sky,
Silly dogs, friendly neighbors,
My God does marvelous things!