Friday, September 29, 2006

Keeping the Glow Alive - Part 2




(The picture above is not meant to impress.  In fact, it’s a retread from a journal entry I made in early January.  Its meant to invoke a feeling that I referenced in that entry – a feeling I experienced today.)




I had a particularly vexing day today.  A home project I have been working on all week – one that I thought was finally complete when I went to bed last night – managed to find a way to take up my entire day today as well.  Gone were the plans I had carefully laid, cast unceremoniously aside by the whims of the project that would not die.


As each additional step in the laborious process consumed twice and three times the amount of time I thought it should and the sun literally set on the rest of my plans, I finally reached the absolute final step.


There’s something about vacuuming that I loathe. Cleaning bathrooms, laundry, dusting - even windows – I don’t mind as much as dragging the old Kirby around the floors.  Its not particularly difficult or time-consuming, but its my least favorite of household chores – and somehow it seemed fitting that the final step happened to be the thorough vacuuming of the Great Room carpet.


My mood was foul and each pass of the sweeper seemed a mockery of my skills and planning abilities.  And then, as I stooped to lift the ember-resistant rug before the hearth, I saw it.  It was peeking out from the corner of the bottom of the fireplace screen – a place I’ve seen dozens of times in the last months.  But today was the day it chose to make its appearance – and I had to shut off the vacuum and simply smile.


Last January, as I waxed wistfully in this journal over the end of the Christmas season, I pondered whether we pack the spirit of that season away with the decorations – only bringing it back out for a limited time each year. I hoped that we would find ways in our hearts, once the normal rhythms of everyday life had returned, to keep the peace and the love of the season alive.   I closed the entry by noting that pine needles have a way of turning up at unexpected times no matter how thorough our efforts to remove every one of them – and hoped that at unexpected times during the year we would find a pine needle, and let it take us back to the special peace of the season.


And that’s what I found today.  At a time when I was feeling charitable toward few and anger at unspecified gremlins for wasting my day, a tiny, light green and brittle pine needle took me back to the tree and the light and the magic – and my day improved dramatically from there. 


When YOU need it most – I wish you a pine needle of your own.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Dance of the squirrels




I was running late this morning, trying to get out the door to dive into the day’s requirements.  I walked into the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee to go, popped it into the microwave to get it good and piping hot and then turned around – and instantly smiled widely.


The deck wraps around the corner of the kitchen and a flurry of activity caught my eye through the sliding glass doors.  Four young squirrels, filled with the carefree exuberance of youth, were scurrying madly up and down the White Oak that sits inches from the deck rail – and using it as a launching pad to hop to the deck and then back again.  They chased each other up and down and around the tree, sometimes moving so fast that they literally ran over the top of each other in their eagerness to reach some imaginary and endlessly changing goal.


At about this time, the microwave sounded the end of its cycle – and I was faced with a decision:  grab the coffee and run to the car to stay on schedule or let the pace of life wait a bit while I retrieved the camera and tried to record the frenetic activity of those new to this life and eager to explore all it has to offer.  In a heartbeat, I set the coffee down and ran for the camera.


For the next 15 or so minutes, I sat on the deck and quietly enjoyed the tireless play of these athletic creatures - capturing what images I could in the split seconds that they were anything less than a light brown blur.  Of hundreds of missed shots, a few – amazingly – caught a moment in time to illustrate the glorious spectacle they played out for me, and two of those images are shared with you here.


When they finally scampered up the tree for good, I set the camera aside, grabbed the coffee cup and hurried out the door.  Would I encounter a more harried pace and additional traffic for my dalliance with nature?  Yes.  If I had the choice to make again, would I do anything differently?  Not on your life.


Life constantly presents us with choices – some large, but most small and seemingly insignificant.  And at the end of the day, the choices we make in each of these instances makes the difference between living our lives and having a life.  Sometimes we simply must budget our time according to the schedules of others and the rhythms of the day, but oftentimes we are not really quite as busy as we tell ourselves we are.  In those moments, when you are faced with a choice to adhere to the timetable or to stop and watch the squirrels I hope that you stop and let some carefree joy delight your eye and fill your soul – for your day and your life will be just a little bit brighter if you do.





On an unrelated, but very pleasant note: Greg Kiser, a professional photographer in North Carolina has chosen to do a spotlight article on your humble correspondent in his Journal Photo Trek  Take a few moments to visit if you can – and check out the truly wonderful photographs that Greg posts there and on his web site.  Sincere thanks to Greg for his encouraging words and his generosity of spirit – THANK YOU!