I was grateful this morning to find myself with both leeks and potatoes in my hands, fresh out of the garden. There’s only one thing I think of with both those vegetables: vichyssoise! It was my father’s favorite soup, which I’ve known my whole life. Today I thought of him, grateful for his culinary skills and interests that he transmitted to me. I’m grateful for many things about today, including vichyssoise.
It’s not that these transient pleasures, like a cheese sandwich or a dog walk or the phoebes, in and of themselves bring genuine happiness. It’s that appreciating the simple pleasures of a complex world, among my confounding species, on this fragile planet, imbues life with contentment for me. I finally feel as safe as is humanly possible, walking out here on the edge of impermanence, after all those years chasing certainty and running from death.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m grateful today and every day for the gorgeous sunset. I’m grateful to have live through another precious day, a day that will never come again, in a life that continues to be blessed with so many opportunities. I’m grateful to live in a beautiful old-growth forest with ancient tree beings, and fleeting foxes, and an abundance of phoebes, among the many lives that make up this rich ecosystem. I’m grateful for the awareness to appreciate all this precious, ephemeral life, including my own. More about that tomorrow.