Alone in the daylight

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Image from page 164 of “Emmy Lou : her book & heart” (1903) (source: Flickr)

It is only in solitude that I ever find my own core. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I think the art of solitude is really something wonderful. If you ever get to explore being alone for long periods of time, I highly recommend it. Though we are social creatures, I think being alone teaches you not to be lonely.

I remember as a child that the summer days would move by slowly and easily. I would sit with my childhood friends on their porch, vine tomato and salt shaker in hand, and pass the day playing until it got dark. When I got home I would stink of sun, sweat, and be covered in freckles, and there would be dirt in my hair and on my knees. I wouldn’t bathe, I would just crawl into bed, make the sheets dusty, and sleep like the dead with no dreams.

This weekend I chose solitude, as the 4th of July was upon us in ‘merica. I thought I would miss out on all the socializing, but it’s passing without much notice from me. I get to hear all the sounds of it; sparklers, backyard BBQs, laughter. For once I decided to just let the days happen, and it’s pretty cool how one moment just blends into the next.

I did get “bored,” and so when I did I thought of ways to get “un-bored.” But it turns out there’s not much difference between the two, it’s just in the second scenario you invent. I went to buy some plants and lingered a lot in the nursery, gazing on all the blooms. I picked out a yellow Dahlia and a Lamium, and when the sun was behind the Catalpa, I planted them in containers that had been empty for a long time.

The wind has picked up again, and thought it says it’s 80F in my back room, I am cold and wearing a sweatshirt. Grey is lounging in his big bed, and I am keeping the parrots company in their room as I write. If you’ve had parrots as long as I have, you have to learn to be creative in the parrot entertainment business – you learn how to keep the parrot parent (me) from not going mad and still give your cherished pets the time they need outside their cages.

I’ve learned to tolerate the sound of the poorly-made door in the bird room banging over and over again as the wind comes through the window and pushes the door around in its frame. Willie, my oldest bird, starts to whistle, and I say softly to him “You’re singing and I’m trying to write…what am I supposed to do with that?” And he is suddenly silent. No yelling or putting him back in his cage, just an intelligent request directed at a 28-year old cockatiel that he seemed to understand. He is not sad and does not take it personally; writing resumes.

 

Nowhere but here

bewickswren

There is freedom within
There is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup

~Counting Crows “Don’t Dream It’s Over”

The ground is dry and it feels like winter was never here. My little evergreens did nothing, and my shade plants are struggling. I look into the trench my gardener made for planting and I wonder “why bother?” It’s more interesting to see how the landscape plays out, literally.

My view never really changes, though what’s outside does. The holes my dog has dug in the yard have become part of the landscape, and on occasion I see the head of a ground squirrel poking its head out of a hole and looking around. Sometimes it will poke its head out as far as it can and I imagine it thinking “Success! I’ve managed to conquer a backyard and no one has tried to kill me yet! It’s a good day!” Yes, most people in my neighborhood try to kill these squirrels because of all the effort they’ve put into their lawns. My advice is, don’t put all the effort into your lawn. Who cares? And I hate to tell you, the ground squirrels will come back. So, I’ve decided to let them live in my backyard. At least something is living and thriving in this world.

We found that some wrens have made nests in the gigantic Eucalyptus in our neighbor’s yard, two tiny wren apartments in nature’s version of a high-rise. Tiny Bewick’s wrens – bug and fly eaters** and all-around little badasses. Little birds with a big voice and and a wonderfully snobby tail to go along with it. Dust bath: check! Flit along the top of the friendly neighbor fence: check! Terrorize moths (and eat them) underneath the struggling Eureka lemon tree: check! What a grand life. Immune to the trivialities of humans, just enjoying life and avoiding stupid fucking outdoor cats.

The sun will go down soon, and the wind will pick up again. During the interludes of sun and no wind I am content to sit with my dog on the little concrete walls in the backyard, feel the sun on my face and hope for a glimpse of bird, any bird. Even though my dog (Grey) is content to lay on his dog bed in the sun for the most part, the temptation is great when he sees I’m at eye level and comes over for a pat. This is enough.

**Bewick’s Wrens eat the eggs, larvaepupae, and adults of insects and other small invertebrates. Common prey animals include bugs, beetles, bees and wasps, caterpillars, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, crickets, flies, and spiders (source: allaboutbirds.org).