Seasons of Me!

"A glimpse into the life of a birder, beach comber, self taught naturalist, an antique dealer, and junker! There are many seasons that happen here!"

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Musings in the Sand

Walking along the beach with my mind and body completely at ease and with peace many thoughts, wanderings, and musings come to mind.
I see and meet many people here. We have all been drawn to this same place by the same special love of the sea--for its healing, peace of mind, and for its beauty. It is a place that is etched in our souls for our eternity. We not only take the ocean home with us, we also leave a part of ourselves with the ocean. We, in turn, become a part of the oceans eternity.
Walking along and seeing the many footprints in the sand I am drawn to notice the many shapes and sizes of the prints, some deep in the sand and others shallow--a mark left no doubt though. I walk in these same foot steps trying them on for size and noting how many paths and different walks of life are crossing here.
We have each left our mark here. We have all converged here together on this beach just as each and every grain of sand here has also converged here from many places. And as we all part again to go our separate ways--so too shall the grains of sand part and go their separate ways also, only to end up maybe on the ocean floor and again, at some point in time to wash back up on an ocean beach somewhere. The foot prints that we have left in the sand may remain there for hours or for days depending on wind and tide. Others are short lived as they meet the ocean waves immediately and all visible traces of them are erased. As the grains of sand are ancient, and they part and come back together again, so too will our foot prints will always remain somewhere in these sands of time. One wonders about the early seafarers and if perhaps their feet have also sifted through these same sands. In some far fetched way in my mind we are all seafarers traveling with the current in the form of a grain of sand that we have touched. Amazing that so many of us can all touch the same single grain of sand.
My minds wandering is doubly intrigued by the foot prints of the birds. Many of these birds are migrants at points throughout the year. As they lift off for points unknown to us how many of their own foot prints must they pass over--taking the short circuit through the skies and over the gyre and then meeting up with them again on some other distant beach.
My musings might be far fetched and theories never proven but I figure in a lot of faith in here also.
The prints you see here and the prints you see being made here were done in September 2009. They were placed at my "soul place" on the point of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The time we spent here together is forever imprinted on our hearts and well as on the sand.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Elegance in Flight

All birds are beautiful! They each and every one have their very own character and personality--some are bold and loud, some are secretive and recluse, others are adorned in loud and vibrant colors--almost reaching gaudy in some, there are those who are more subtle in color, and then there are those who are simply elegant. I think that one of the most elegant birds that there is, is the tree swallow. It even reaches over to the romantic side. The white on its breast is pure and the metallic blue on its back is deep, its startling, and it never fails to bedazzle me! And when the sunlight bounces off its back it is even more startling! I have never been able to single out a particular bird for a favorite, but the tree swallow would definitely be in the running!
I have several "spring" birds--birds which signal spring to ME. The tree swallow is but one of them. I anxiously await to see my first of year or hear reports of them heading my way. My earliest date ever for spring arrival in my county is March 1st. On this particular March 1st I was birding in a mixed bag of weather. One minute the sun was shining--the next minute snow was spitting from the skies. The battle of winter ending and spring beginning was on! And I was shivering! Amidst several shivers and a bout of snow and blow a tree swallow zipped by, over the lake, and circled! I knew then that spring was on the winning end, winter was losing its grip fast, and my shivers were fading with it! These hardy birds always seem to be the first swallows to arrive in spring and the last to leave in fall.
On May Day counts I love to be standing on the beach at the Ferdinand State Forest right before day breaks. It is intriguing to hear them twitter and chatter in the dark flying out over the lake. It lends to their personality an air of pure happiness--Thankful to be ushering in another day--another day of zipping and sailing through the spring air, of the freedom of flight, and of just being! And this thankfulness is contagious as I breathe in the same morning air and my heart swells as I go through all of the emotions!
There is but one who could ever replicate the color of this bird...GOD. This bird is a God-given jewel! When the sunlight reflects off of its back it is heaven shining. This is not only elegance in flight, it is also heart rendering elegance!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Routine & Rhythm

In our daily lives most of us follow a routine. Some of us have routine and rhythm, and still others have only rhythm. It depends on who we are and how our lives are shaped whether we prefer routine, routine & rhythm, or just plain ole rhythm...and sometimes it is not just a preference. Sometimes it is just how things are.

A mere few of us are so content in our lives that we never stray from our lifes path. Most of us have ever-changing events and lives and at some point we go soul seeking and balance many things at once--teetering on routine and tottering with rhythm. And finally the rhythm just takes over. There is no age limit to this routine and rhythm thing. We all take different routes and reach the final destination (which may also be all different) at different points in our lives. It is these crossing points that makes life LIFE. It is these crossing points where we learn to love, to feel, to ponder, and learn what true bitter sweetness in life is.

At this point in my life I am teeter tottering and now in the process of moving over to the more tottering side. Some attribute this to aging. I attribute it to finding myself, peace, and discovery. My life has held routine only on and off since 1985 when I got married and moved to North Carolina with my husband who was in the Marine Corp and stationed there. It has not been a constant routine through the years for us. We have had an ever-changing life together that has been very special. And with our ever-changing routines we also had our ever-changing rhythms. The drum beats have changed, the rhythms have changed, and I went soul seeking many times. In this beautiful and natural world of ours you can find your soul in many places and in these many places you find a place and a peace for yourself. Among us many varied individuals we find our rhythms in many places. And what your rhythm is many not be mine or vice versa. It is a colorful world!

I feel fortunate in that I can find and keep my rhythm in some of lifes most simplest ways. No matter how hectic or hard of a day that I am having I can always step back two paces and retrieve my rhythm. It takes only a deep breath. I am finally coming to peace with myself more and more, creating my own rhythm, and keeping it. It feels good to slow down.

The robins morning song is his routine--it is my rhythm. The spring peepers peeping at the end of February is their routine--it is my rhythm. The calling of the migrating Sandhill cranes flying over is their routine--it is my rhythm. The sanderlings running on the beach following the is their routine, it is my rhythm. The waves lapping up and back along the beach, well, that is all rhythm!

Routines and rhythms differ and change. Some are a constant in our lives and some become a constant after time. That is what makes it a rhythm. It is 7:50 pm on a drizzly and rainy early spring evening...quite chilly. I step outside and shiver with the dampness. The robins are still singing...I feel the beat, I keep the rhythm.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Peenting Grounds

This is the time of year when we make our annual trek to our local "peenting grounds". We discovered our very own peenting ground about five years ago and have been coming here each mid-March every since then. It is our best time of year to hear and to get a glimpse of the woodcocks. They are gearing up but not yet at the peak of their "peenting passion".
We arrive at the grounds near dusk--the robins, the red-winged blackbirds, the song sparrows, and the eastern towhees are still singing. A red-tailed hawk flies from one tree to another perch. A perch that sits high and in the corner of the field. We stand quietly and enjoy the evening chorus. A chorus frog chimes in from time to time. As each minute ticks by the singing grows less and less as one by one the songsters drop out for the evening. It grows quieter and dimmer by the minute and the peace of the evening surrounds us. Finally, when all is about quiet, there is one final stir--that is the red-tailed hawk. He lets out his last "scree" of the day, takes flight, circles once, and is gone. All is now silent. We know that the show is about to begin. It is several minutes later when we hear the first nasally "peent". Several more minutes tick by and we hear out second "peent". The third "peent" comes a little closer to the last and the forth even closer. It is as if they have to wind themselves up. Once they are wound up they then have to unwind and that is when you see them take up high into the air, higher and higher they go, and in arches and circles and the whole time twittering on high! And when the peak is reached it is like they are finally wound out and come twittering straight down! What a show--what a sound! We continue to watch until we can no longer see in the dark. We can still hear though. We stand awhile longer listening in the darkness--listening and rolling in our own thoughts!
My thoughts are of these "peenting grounds" and how they have changed over just the few years that I have been visiting them. Each year more of the open areas, the open areas where the woodcocks like to start the show from, are closing in more and more as small trees and other growth fill in the gaps. I see the irony of wanting to let areas grow and return to nature and of also wanting to hold onto this area just as it is with small growth trees here and there that man created by clear cutting to begin with. At the rate of growth I see here I am not sure how many more years the woodcocks will call this home. I go home on this evening thankful for yet another year, but knowing also that as this area is reclaimed more and more by nature it will be called home by a whole new group of critters.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

And the Sparks Flew!

Many people have a general interest in birds but with some people there is usually one particular bird that they come upon that will draw their undivided attention and will strike something much deeper within them--something that puts them over the edge of bird watching and into the world of birding. Birders refer to this as their "spark bird". I came upon my spark bird in North Carolina in 1992 along a small woodland edge. To my delight this bird is a very common bird. I come across it over and over and every time I see it I am reminded of those flying sparks! My spark bird was the Indigo bunting.
This is not just a bluebird, it is a BLUE BIRD! The color amazes me--from head to tail, front and back--blue, all blue, the male is! It seems to me to be a magical color in the bird world, but I am not sure about it being a true blue though! I had a friend ( a birder friend) who once told me that a bird flew into the path of his truck and was struck down. In shock he pulled over to see what kind of bird it was. It was a Indigo bunting...a as blue laying in the sunlight on the road. As he picked the bird up he noticed it was blue no more--it was black. We could be anthropomorphic ( as I am want to be) and say that in death it loses its vibrance of life with its color fading fast. In reality though I think that blue is the color in the spectrum that needs light to diffract through it--giving it its color. Perhaps this is why we always see these male Indigo buntings sitting up high on the utility wires in the full summer sun and belting out its endless and glorious song all summer long. But as we know from our own lives looks are not everything! This birds song is a beauty within itself and the stamina of the bird pours forth even in mid August when all other birds have given up song! Nothing deters this bird from singing! This is a bird full of life with traits to be admired by a mere human such as myself!
The picture above of the Indigo bunting was taken by Khanh Tran of Portland Oregon. It was taken at South Padre Island Texas. We viewed this bird together!

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Weekend Visitor

I had an Eastern screech owl spend the weekend with me once--not by her choice though. And she could not see through the confinement and strange surroundings to see that I was merely trying to help her. All she could see was the discomfort and disturbance she was going through all on account of a man that was trying to keep his family warm.

She came to me by way of a phone call from our local state forest property manager. He was contacted by an individual right down the road from me who was cutting firewood. Upon cutting into a dead tree snag he was as much in shock upon seeing this screech owl on her nest with an egg as much as the screech owl was in shock of hearing this blade and then seeing it slice into her home. And as she tried to make her escape from this startling and frightening encroachment the saw blade went right through her flight feathers ending her flight to freedom--for the now. It sent her hurdling to the ground with a thud!

I was sent to get the frightened little soul and house her til help could arrive. So there she sat on my screened in porch in a box. She had the most grumpy look on her face that any screech owl could have--and with many a good reason! I tried my best to make her stay comfortable, but knowing full well this was impossible. She was ripped from her own world with terror and fury. And now this...she was uncertain of her well being, of her future, but knowing the fate of the egg that was left behind addled. And so I tried to give her peace and quiet, and darkness in the day. I was constantly worried about her and hoping help would arrive soon. I was probably as stressed as she was! Day went to evening, evening to night, and there she sat, still uncertain and not being able to do what screech owls normally do at this hour. And I slept, and peace and quiet she had, just not in her normal routine.

Morning came and with trepidation I went to check on her. Opening the door to the porch I could immediately see something was amiss with the box. Peeking in I was startled to see nothing but an egg that had been laid through the night. Obviously so interrupted during her nesting time, she had no choice but to relieve herself of this package which she knew would probably share the same fate as the first egg. But the owl? She decided to make the best of what she had before her, to try to be the owl that she was and carry on. The night time musings of an owl must go on. And so she clambered of of the box and across the floor...she must have hopped since she could not fly. And a climber she was--up the screens and found a perch for herself. A wood cut out painted bird was the perfect perch for an owl in this environment! And blend in she did. She looked content so I left her sit. In and out of the porch we went with our normal routine and showed a care she did not! Perhaps she felt a little more in her element here, more owl like, and probably felt as if we did not even know she was there!

I ended up getting so stressed out and worried myself sick over this owl...She needed some help and the help was too long in coming--so I found a rehabilitator and took her to him. She received wonderful care, shelter, and food. A comfortable place to wait out til her flight feathers grew back in. She was released back to the wild where an Eastern screech owl should be. She lost out on a nesting season and I often wonder if she found a new home or came back to the old stomping grounds. A brave little soul was she...

Yes, I had a screech owl spend the weekend with me!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Soul Place

Throughout life we all find our special places. They may be places we visit on vacation---just once or year after year. It may be a place near home or it may even be a place just in our mind. Some people refer to these places as their "happy places". I have a place like this...only mine I refer to as my "soul place".
My soul place runs deep and wild, serene, calme, and blue. My soul place is the breeze, the wind, the tides, the waves---sometimes in glory and beauty, other times in fury, but also with passion. My soul place is where all life begins and ends....It is where I find my true is where I feel, I see, it is where I reside. My soul place is The Point. The point on the outer banks of North Carolina near Cape Hatteras.
I remember well my first visit to the point! I remember the sounds, the views, the emtions that ran through me! I remember the biggness---the life....yes, the life! It was ALL here! The beginning, the end, the in between, all life, all death, beauty, happiness, sadness, fury, everything in life but all in its appropriate place with a bitter sweetness about it all. And in all visits thereafter the power still over rides me and fight it I do not! Its all real and real feels good! There is nothing overwhelming or fake in this realm as it can be in our man made complicated lives!
I am not alone. Many other souls reside here also. Not only human souls, but myriads of shorebirds, gulls, terns, pelicans, and migrants passing through--crustaceans, cestaceans, hordes of marine life! On any given day the experience is different. Not only on a daily basis, but also on an hourly basis as the tides change.
The schools of dolphins here are not merely passing by...They are meandering through and taking time to stop and play with tail slaps, jumps, and twirls. Early mornings are a great time to see what the night tides bring us before the day tides reclaim them. Throughout the day the treasures change. Some days its knobbed whelks, the next day may be channel whelks or sea pansies. A beach full of sea hash contains many a gift--for the open hearted and simple minded. Some days the beach sends us no shell hash--a time to watch pelicans sail by or see the teeming white clouds of terns flying high. In the distance a great black back gull bellows out. And always the waves keep rhythm with my soul.
To see the lighthouse in the distant evening ocean haze with its light spinning is surreal. The sand of millineums swirling around my feet--sands as old as time and from who knows where or what. The tinkle of the shell hash. Waves coming in from three directions to all converge in fury and passion on the point. It is magical.
There is no end to this chapter in my life. There is much more to tell---I have experienced much--a life time perhaps if my life should end tomorrow. I will never be able to experience it all even if I lived to be 100. These are the places of the soul...we all need a place like this.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On the Sails of Life

Life is life....we go through it with hopes and dreams, we make plans, but yet, life being what it is does not always go according to our plans. Life being much bigger than we are sometimes sets our course for us. Its like sometimes we have no other choice than to go with the flow.

The ocean is life. And although its path is entertwined more closely with our lives than we many times realize (inland or sea side), its inhabitants seem to be realms from our own. Or are they? Perhaps the life of the ocean is just much more in tune than we are. Accepting its fates much more readily (and for forever unknown reasons) than we do.

Case in point....the By the Wind Sailor. Its name to me can be romantic....not in the way of love as most think of the term romantic, but in the way of life, of its bitter sweetness, and how we would all love to live life. And its name is so right to the point--I love the simplicity that simple people used eons ago to describe life and its forms. Let's not go the route of the scientist here! Although the By the Wind Sailors scientific name, velella velella , has its own charm! This By the Wind Sailor pictured above was washed up on a beach on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in May 2009. Along with many others.

The By the Wind Sailor is but the size of a quarter on a big ocean. It is a hydroid (jellyfish) that is harmless to humans but feeds voraciously on tiny fish eggs, copepods, and other marine life as they sail in temperate and tropical oceans worldwide. As you can see this sailor is a bright blue with a transparent sail on top. A beautiful, beautiful much in death as in life. An interesting thing about these sails is that they are either right sailing or left sailing. So as they are at the oceans mercy of where and when they go, it depends on the direction of the winds of which type you will see stranded on the beach at a given time. And they will all be of that type. If you were a By the Wind Sailor and the winds were in your favor, you would continue to sail the high seas that day. If not, you would end up like this sailor and be beached and at the end of your time. So just as we are at the mercy of life and know not where the road will take us, the By the Wind Sailor is at the mercy of the seas. But as we go through life mostly worrying about the path we get steered down, the By the Wind Sailor just goes with the flow and accepts its given direction. There has to be something said of faith here. If we could all have this faith and go with the flow how much more simple and rewarding life could be! Not to worry about tomorrow and just sail long in the day. Some days the winds are with us, some days they are against us--but not ours to control. The circle of life can be comparable whether on land or sea. I find it fascinating of the lessons in life we can learn by observing some of the smallest life forms on earth. There has to be something said of faith here....

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

And it was heard!