Despite this climate-chaos induced exceptional drought, the indomitable will to live that permeates all plants and animals keeps us living to our utmost. I am grateful for the resilience of Life.
At last! Though probably barely measurable, we have rain. I’m grateful for a little rain with a lot of thunder and lightning.
I’m grateful for every little thing about this day, starting with I woke up alive, and relatively pain free. From there, anything else is gravy. I didn’t do much today. I didn’t even think or feel much. I’m on staycation. But I paid attention to the phoebes, the jays, the magpies; to weather, lightning, potential rain; to nutrition, mine and others. I paid attention to the moment as consistently as I could, and remembered quite often to breathe, or rather, to notice my breath, each inhalation, each exhalation, the exact conditions of the body at the time. I’m grateful for each breath that allowed me to read some things, to watch some TV: I’m grateful for things to read and TV to watch, and various individuals who make those entertainments possible. I’m grateful for these five or six senses that let me make sense of, or at least interpret, the world outside this body-mind.
I’m grateful for harvest, from early carrots and okra for me, to whatever I grow that the deer want. It’s the least I can do.
Yesterday I felt glum. I may have spoken too soon, expressing gratitude that both phoebe parents were alive. All day long the chicks screeched non-stop, while only one parent came to feed them, instead of two flying back and forth as they had been. It seemed like an hour at a time went by without anyone stuffing a mouth. When it cooled off, I sat outside and timed it, and there were intervals as long as 20 minutes while the babies cried before someone came to feed one. I wondered many things: was one parent killed by a falcon? or a cat? had one simply quit? was the other one out searching for its mate and just coming back intermittently with a token dragonfly or cricket? would the chicks survive? should I buy mealworms? Or, was I misperceiving reality?
I’m grateful to Deb for checking on the mealworm supply in town this morning, and grateful that they didn’t seem to be needed after all. Today, it still seems only one parent is feeding, but at least it’s more frequent, and the babies are full enough to fall asleep between bugs.
But what is happening? It’s a mystery, compounded by the fact that this evening I saw two perfectly-adult-looking phoebes land in the apricot tree, and one fed the other a grasshopper. Is one phoebe parent still out feeding some from the first clutch? maybe that last straggler out of the nest? Or, did one parent run off to court a new mate? Or, were those two grown chicks from the first clutch, courting, playing, or practicing? And, how does this situation relate to what I observed a few days ago, two phoebes chasing one another through the junipers?
I’m grateful for how the mystery of nature piques my curiosity, and grateful that I’m not attached to knowing answers. I’m grateful the babies seem to be getting enough food again after yesterday’s mysterious, vociferous hunger. I’ll be grateful tomorrow if I wake up alive and get to watch the phoebe mystery further unfold.
Today I pulled up the garlic. It’s not much, but it turned out the best of recent years’ efforts. Next year I need to devote an entire bed to it. I’m grateful for garlic.
More phoebes in the world can only be a good thing. I’m grateful for the four precious chicks in the second clutch, bigger and bolder each day. I’m grateful their parents are both still alive, catching grasshoppers and other insects in my yarden. I’m grateful to see two or three at a time of the first clutch flying in the woods around the house. A couple of times I’ve watched two phoebes swooping together as though in play, or dance. The more phoebes around, the fewer grasshoppers marauding my vegetables. I’m grateful for more phoebes!
They squeaked all through the party last night, with their parents flying in and out over guests’ heads. I’m not sure how many people noticed them, but I sure admired the birds’ equanimity.
Michael and I hung out together for about a decade, between his second and third wife. He was smart, funny, sensitive, deep, spiritual, thoughtful, and many other superlatives, in addition to being globally known as the Father of Conservation Biology. He was naughty and mischievous, also, and great fun to be around. I’m grateful to be able to call him friend. He suffered a massive stroke last summer, leaving his bereaved bride of ten years, a valley full of friends, a beautiful extended family, and a world full of friends and colleagues, all of whom miss his warmth, brilliance, humor, and dynamite smile. Tonight, a few of us, finally able to during this break in the pandemic, gathered at my house to celebrate his life.
I’m grateful for everyone who helped put together the party, and contributed from afar. I’m grateful for all the stories and insights that were shared to celebrate and honor him, helping each of us know him just a little better through the eyes and hearts of others. I have a soul full of history with him, and few words to share it.
Michael and I frequently discussed death in its many incarnations, including ‘the coming plague,’ which he lived to see the beginning of with Covid-19. He practiced Zen Buddhism, and inspired me to deepen my study of the philosophy that became my guiding light. I told him several times that when he died, I would shave my head in his honor. The opportunity arose this evening. I’m grateful for all our friends who took a swipe at my pate with his electric trimmer, and I’m grateful to June for offering it to me afterward. I was honored to accept it.
Have I mentioned lately the point of this commitment? I chanced to have a conversation with a young conservationist the other day, and she mentioned grief. Grief is one of the most appropriate emotions for any of us to be holding, juggling, however we choose to acknowledge it. Gratitude is another. The two complement each other: they are antidotes and catalysts at the same time, grief and gratitude. Whichever one you start with can lead you to the other, particularly if you start with grief. From my particular world view, grief and gratitude are the most appropriate emotions for anyone aware of the climate crisis. [trigger alert: these links are not for the faint of heart.]
So I’m grateful for the mental fortitude I’ve cultivated this past year, and my whole life, really; grateful that I can put myself in perspective with the world at last, after decades of exploring the relationship. I am content to be a small pebble in a small pond, causing small ripples. I am sitting in the teepee, watching the giant blue planet approach. I am grateful for every moment of beauty and grace that I can be aware of, as the moments of this fleeting life flow through me.
While I can’t remember for sure who gave me this folding straw, I’m grateful for it. I was early for OT and decided to dash across the road for a chocolate milkshake at the Coaltrain Coffeehouse. I’m grateful for chocolate, and for milk, and for blenders that shake them both together. I’m grateful that as I stood there while the blender growled, and thought about the plastic straw problem, I remembered that I had the folding straw in my purse. As a mentor said the other day, mindfulness is really all about remembering.