Wow! Yay! Woohoo! Gear waterproofed, gear gone through and packed, Wilderness First Aid and CPR re certified, paperwork filled out for the new rafting outfitter I’ll be working for this summer, questions answered, tent site picked out, old friends reconnected, river rapids raging high water, snow slowly melting. Can’t wait! Can’t wait! Can’t wait! Not sleeping much, not eating much, bouncing off the walls, being absurdly productive, LOVE LIFE! Every raft guide goes through this Spring Fever! It’s a physical need to get back on the River, an overwhelming excitement that pushes the memory of long cold dark winter into a minuscule cobwebbed corner of the mind. Spring has sprung, I am Spring! Every molecule is teetering on the edge of Awakening, vibrating with new life, new love, new happiness!
Wet, chilly day, bird feeders hanging up to give them some extra energy on this grey day and to give our indoor cats something to watch. I am sitting on the sofa working on the laptop when a loud resounding thud startles me and the cat sitting on the window sill. It’s the distinctive sound of a bird who has flown into the window. I stand, the cat is also standing and very interested in something on the porch below the window. Oh no, that whack was too hard for it to have survived. I go outside to remove the poor thing from the porch. It’s down behind some miscellaneous stuff behind the rocking chairs. I see the grackle curled, one wing splayed, and head limp. Its beautiful feathers shining even in this grey light. I look up and see where it hit the window, a wet circular smudge in the dust on the pane, the cat on the other side watching me. I start moving objects out of the way so I can reach the poor little creature. I start to reach down to pick him (or her) up when he blinks at me. I pull my hand away, noticing how large and pointed its beak is. I can hardly believe he is still alive, and think maybe its wing is broken. I put on some gardening gloves and gently pick him up. He struggles only slightly against my efforts, in the process folding both wings back in a natural normal way. I set him down on the pillow on the rocking chair, quickly grab a small tangerine crate and some soft rags, make a impromptu bed, carefully place the grackle in it (his struggle a little less feeble this time), and softly cover him hoping to keep him warm and dry. I back away and watch him watching me. We stay that way for a long while, he tilts his head and blinks at me some more. Eventually he hops out of the box, scattering the rags that had covered him. He jumps to the wood pile testing his wings. Miraculously they seem to be uninjured,. He bobs his head a couple of times as it gathering the strength and courage to step back into the rain and takes flight, flapping a few times, and landing in a nearby tree. A few moments later he takes off and disappears from view out over the creek. This is the grackle that lived!
I’ve been taking advantage of the beautiful, sunny, warm, dry Spring day by going through gear, packing for rafting season, and continuing the waterproofing project. There is always so much to do in these first days of spring. The yard projects are lining up and impatiently waiting for my attention. I am a busy little bee buzzing around my hive waking it up from its long winter’s sleep. So in the late afternoon with a large yellow hazy sun hanging lazily over the western horizon, I move the hammock off the porch into the yard. I lay there soaking in the afternoon warmth, legs dangling, swinging gently, sleepily watching the haze grow thicker slowly turning into a cloud bank. As the sun dips toward the ridge, the clouds close in and a chill air stirs the bare branches. Just for a while, the sun was warm, the birds were chirping, and I took the time to lounge, first hammock basking of the season!
This year I decided to re-waterproof my tents and other gear. Its a multi step process requiring copious amounts of time to dry and cure between each step making it a multi day process. In order for the waterproofing products dry and cure, the day needs to be sunny, dry, and warm. Sunny dry and warm days have been few and far between. Oh well! Today was good day to spray some silicone (and try not to inhale it)! So my little travel tent I keep in the car was set up on the lawn drying nicely in the breezy sunny spring air. I had gone inside for a drink. Looked up through the window and saw a tent go bouncing, rolling by the house along the road. WOW! Never saw me move so fast laughing the whole way. I zinged out the door, flew down the stairs, ran across the yard and up the road, shouting in my excitement “ Come back to my little tent! Don’t leave me now! Think of all the good times we’ve had together!” The tent came to rest on a tangled bramble next to the road. I was glad for that because I didn’t have to chase it down the embankment into the creek. After carefully extracting it from the branches and vines, I carried it back to the yard, a giant ribbed nylon balloon tugging at my grip in the wind and bouncing with my at my gait. It got staked down! No more tent chasing today.
Once and a while, I have trouble breathing at night especially when I lay down. A variety of reasons has been explored, but it pretty much comes down to indoor allergies (we do have 4 cats and a lot of dust). I was in moderate distress and trying to stay calm because having an anxiety attack over it just makes it even harder to breath. My husband suggested I go sit on the porch to see if the fresh air would help. Stepping out into the darkness, my bare feet curled at contact with the cold floor boards, goose bumps prickled my skin, and involuntary shiver ran down my spine, but my lungs and sinuses wanted the fresh air. The hammock stand was in pieces on the porch, so (after going back inside and putting on socks and a warmer outer layer over my pajamas) I assembled it, then dug my camping hammock and sleeping bag out of the car where I had put it earlier that day in preparation of spending the weekend in the Adirondacks. All curled up in the hammock, toasty warm, gently swaying, blending into the nightscape, watching the narrow strip of stars visible between the roof line above me and the ridge line across the way, listening to an audio book, hovering on the misty shadowy borderline between wakefulness and sleep, not wanting to let go into that peaceful oblivion because of the enjoyment I was feeling floating here in the hammock being relaxed and breathing.
One of our cats is a small black lithe feline. Even her nose and whiskers are black. One of her names is Shadow because you cannot see her when she slinks through the shadows in the hallway and around furniture. She is silky soft smooth, fiendishly friendly, feisty, a little vibrating purr motor inside her chest that rarely isn’t running, and has an easily activated play mode. Out of the many adorably cute things this cat does, chasing her tail is one of the funniest. We have a cat-scratcher stand with a compartment on top, where she sits and bats at your hand when you walk by in an attempt to get your attention so you will pet her. If instead, you stay out of reach, she can’t contain herself and her tail starts whipping back and forth in excited agitation. Inevitably, at the apex of one of its swings, she notices it. The chase is on! Back claws dig in, front legs twist around claws extended, body bending and curling, tail zinging away around behind, the twirling, whirling purring dervish dance spins menially atop the cat-scratcher, precariously balanced. She catches it all claws and teeth, then realizes it’s attached to herself, the chewing turns to licking “I meant to do that”. The silky tail slips through the front paws and around she goes again.
I drove down to Westchester today to see an old friend who I haven’t seen he got married. He and his amazing wife now have two small adorable children. Three years ago, he suggested I could have some whitewater gear he’s not using anymore, so I finally made the trip. It amazing how such a short distance can hold such an immense gulf of immeasurable time and space.
People come and go in our lives, our immediate circle of friends is in constant fluctuation, although we don’t often notice because usually friends slowly fade out of the intimate Now of life. Oh, we keep in touch; Christmas cards and the occasional e-mail or phone call, but Life pulls us all in a dizzying myriad of different directions. Suddenly you realize its been 8 years since you’ve seen your friends, and you haven’t met their children!
Even though our current life paths could hardly be more different, the friendship is still strong and true. Conversation comes easily, comfortable, and relaxing, falling into place as if 8 years had only been 8 days. Catching up, shared memories, future plans, laughing smiles, and the immense gulf disappears into nothingness. Friendships are measured in heartbeats, warm, continuous, the hidden pulse that keeps us connected to to each other, even when we are unaware of or separated from that connection. Seeing old friends again is like a fire bursting into glorious flame from buried embers under the ash. Stir things up a little bit and you’ll never know what you will find. Cheers to old friendships, we all need a little unconditional love to lean on once and a while!