On the Move

On Monday I said a fond farewell to my doggy duo and with a bit of melancholy, I climbed in my rig and departed Whidbey Island, Washington for another year. When I travel frequently it is not too hard to say goodbye. After an extended stay and making friends it becomes a bit harder for me to get behind the wheel and leave.

But, leave I must. The daylight hours are shortening here and the smell of fall is in the air. Last week it was cloudy for most of the week and it reminds me that the weather will be changing. And…I have plans.

I am heading south and east. There are plans, good plans ahead for me and three other strong women. In a week, we will meet in Kanab, Utah. I will be leaving my rig behind in safe keeping with friends. The four of us will be heading in high clearance vehicles to camp remote on the north rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. And then we will be going to some other unique places in northern Arizona.

I love my rig and I will miss sleeping in it. I also like to camp and get into places that others often don’t choose to reach. It makes it special for those of us who push forward and do the unique and different.

Mary is the leader of the group. She has been to most of these places before. I have been to one of the places that we are going to explore. The country in southern Utah and Arizona is amazing and I love exploring it.

After leaving my friend, Lela’s home and saying a fond farewell to Ellie and Ace the dogs, I drove south to the Clinton/Mukilteo ferry for one last ride for the year. I love ferry travel. I traveled about three hours east and am staying at The Patch, thanks to my membership in Harvest Hosts. Although many know this organization for the wineries where we can camp, tonight I am camping at a Pumpkin farm near Ellensburg, Washington. It is quiet, well except for a few cows and a Great Horned Owl calling nearby.

The Patch is getting ready for their you-pick season this coming Saturday. They are busy and come the weekend the pumpkins will find good homes. I took a moment to walk around the Patch and look at the Pumpkins. I love pumpkins. They have a petting zoo and different games. Tomorrow morning they will open early for me so I can have coffee before I leave. I love finding these places.

Today I will get on the road early-ish and head to Boise where I will meet up with Linda a good friend and fellow adventurer. We will caravan south to meet up with the others in Southern Utah.

I am so grateful for all the opportunities that are offered to me. I am glad to have friends to share them with. I am ready for my next adventure.

Assumptions

Assumptions are a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.

I have been thinking about assumptions. As human beings, we make assumptions about each other, about the stock market, the weather, and just about everything.

Having others make assumptions about me is uncomfortable. How much is true? How much is not true? Why does this bother me? I think it bothers me because it limits me. It makes me realize that even the closest friends make assumptions that make me uncomfortable. Sometimes I am uncomfortable because they are true. Sometimes I am uncomfortable because they are not.

Here are some of the assumptions people have made regarding me over the past few years.

  • I am not vegan or vegetarian. I do love farmers markets for all their fresh and organic produce. I may not get as excited about them as someone who has just become vegan yet it doesn’t mean I don’t like them. They are a go-to place when they are in season.
  • I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I have never been allied with either party. I like to think that I will vote for whoever will do the best job for me and everyone else. Ask me what I believe, don’t categorize me.
  • I don’t like casinos. I don’t judge the people that like this entertainment. Some of them are my people, in fact, a good friend of mine goes to them often. I don’t like the noise, the smell of smoke, and all the audible stimulation. I like camping in their parking lots. I do like their buffets. A year ago a group of us who were camping in the parking lot, went into the casino for dinner. Everyone was required to wear masks. Now I don’t want to go in because Covid is still a part of our lives and fewer people wear masks.
  • Yes, I might make a good Univeral Unitarian. Do I want to be one? No. And maybe I wouldn’t make a good one.
  • I am not brave. If you only knew how often I have heard this since I bought my RV. There are times when my fear overwhelms me. I have been known to delay departures because I get so nervous about taking that first really giant step forward and I get sick. I am working through life just like the rest of us.
  • I am not a Buddhist. I believe in many of the tenets of Buddhism. I have practiced yoga for many years. I am not a Buddhist.
  • I do not listen to NPR, a lot. Except maybe on Saturdays and even then, not frequently. I am not a news person. The news stresses me out. I finally decided I needed to keep up so I get the New York Times headlines in my inbox every day. I can read what I am interested in and let the rest go.

Interesting, aren’t they? These are only a sample of what I have heard from people over the past few years. If I am present when a friend or acquaintance states an assumption about me I will attempt to talk about the assumption with that person.

Rather than assuming something about me, ask me. I am pretty upfront about myself. Ask me why I don’t want to go to a casino for dinner. Ask me about my faith and beliefs. Tell me why you think I would make a good UU. I may learn something about myself.

Why has this subject come to my awareness, now? It has been there for quite some time. It frustrates me. It would be so much better for each of us to learn about each other by asking the questions that would open us up and take our friendship to the next level if that is where we want it to go. Assumptions can limit where we might go and what we might do as people in this world. Assumptions make people feel safe and set boundaries.

What assumptions do I make of others? Hmm, that is a good question. When something comes into my awareness it is time to look at myself. The lesson will ride in the forefront of my consciousness for a while. It has already been there for some time. It is time for me to take a look at myself and change what needs changing. Is this an easy task? No, absolutely not. The key is not to be too hard on myself and recognize, like everyone else, that I am human. Growth is what it is all about. Awareness can help me change and grow. And maybe I won’t be so quick to assume things of others.

Because strangers, acquaintances, and friends make assumptions does not make them less valued in my life. Heck, we all do it without thinking. I value all who enter my life, whether for a few minutes a few years, or forever. People enter my life to teach me lessons in self-growth. And here I am at almost seventy still growing.

Today I am thankful for a tough and delicate topic for me to address. Today I am thankful I have a platform to discuss this. Today I am thankful for those who have helped me to bring this subject forward. Today I am thankful.

The Return of Woody the Cat

Hi everyone. Woody the Cat is back.

A few days ago guess who appeared at my doorstep? Janet! Yes, she walked through the front door, I wonder where she came from. Do any of you know? It is hard to understand people. They come, they go, and then they return again. Mandy, my top person does that frequently. And…she takes Rocky (he’s a dog) with her. Then just like that, she is back again.

Sometimes I get to stay at my house when Mandy disappears. I can sleep on my comfy bed, look out the window, watch the birds, and sleep as much as possible. Oh, I also love to eat. Other times, with much difficulty, Scott and Meghan, Mandy’s family, take me to their house. Once I am there I am fine but trying to catch me and put me in a small case and drive me there, well let me just say it does not bring out my finer side.

When Janet shows up I get to stay home. Ooh, I like that. It has taken me a few days to get used to her being here again. After a few days, I have adjusted. After Mandy left I went in and out of Janet’s room. I sometimes slept on Mandy’s, Rocky’s, and my bed. Then I would slip into Janet’s room for part of the night. Today I decided to just move into her room and stay. The other day I forgot to get up. I slept in until sometime in the afternoon.

I love people. I love people who pet me and feed me and well, just love me. Janet does that very well. She comes in when I am sleeping and picks me up, throws me over her shoulder, and walks me around the house. I like that. I just can’t seem to get enough of snuggling and loving.

I have Janet trained. When she goes into the kitchen I follow her and meow with the sweetest meow I know. She gives me treats. I really really like treats. She sometimes says she is not going to be fooled by me but that sweet meow works every time.

I am excited to have Janet here. She brightens up my life. It is good to have the unexpected happen. When the unexpected comes to visit it shakes up everyone’s life. It is good to have my life shaken up a bit from time to time. It is good for most beings to have their lives shaken up once in a while.

Well, it is time for a nap. Did you know that kitties need at least sixteen hours of sleep a day? Our beauty rest is important. That is why I look so good all the time. That is why I have the finest tail of any kitty I know.

Continue to expect the unexpected. It makes life exciting.

The Desert

“It’s strange how deserts turn us into believers. I believe in walking in a landscape of mirages because you learn humility. I believe in living in a land of little water because life is drawn together. And I believe in the gathering of bones as a testament to spirits that have moved on. If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place that allows us to remember the sacred. Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert is a pilgrimage to the self.”   

                  Terry Tempest Williams

A rare storm in the CA desert

The desert is hot and dry most of the year.  There are many things that can poke, scratch, and hurt quickly. Many of the creatures also have the ability to hurt. There is little water. When it does rain much of the water runs off into arroyos, ditches, and gulleys. The ground does not quickly absorb the moisture. Everything that lives in these places has figured out how to conserve water and find food. Desert Big Horn Sheep only need to drink every three days when the temperature is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

In this southern California desert, it gets confusing. Here it is hot, it is dry, and yet thanks to the Colorado River and rich soil, Imperial County (in the California Desert) is a breadbasket for this country. The ranchers grow iceberg lettuce, leaf lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cantaloupes, honeydews, dry bulb onions, processor onions, carrots, sweet corn, spinach, spring mix, and watermelons. During this trip, I have seen fields of hay and flowers.

All this growth makes it hard to comprehend this area is a desert. When you get away from the fields everything goes back to dry and hard land. There are still more surprises in this desert. I went for a hike yesterday and found an oasis. There were palm trees and other riparian plants growing in this one small area. As I got closer I found water and signs of deer, desert bighorn sheep, and other animals. Life is busy where there is water. Animals, amphibians, and birds know where this water is. It is their lifeblood.

Yes, the desert is hard. I discovered the desert when I moved west in 1976. The wide-open spaces, the silence, and the ruggedness drew me to the desert. The flat land is rugged and so are the mountains. I found I loved to explore this landscape and get to know it. I understood that I had to come to the desert on its terms. Its silence and beauty awakens me in a way that no other place can. I need to be aware of so much here. This awareness lets me relish being in the moment.

The Chocolate Moutains

I came to the desert after Jim died so I could grieve and the desert understood. There were times that I became hard and brittle like this place. I had to confront all sides of myself and I walked out alive. That alone is an accomplishment.

I return to this environment each year to remember and explore and let myself be absorbed in this amazing place once again. Yesterday’s surprise was a small oasis, teeming with life. The next time it might be another slot canyon or a dry waterfall that demands me to climb it. I have learned to lift the rocks and stones away from me when I want to see what is under them. I have learned to walk carefully and be careful of the Catsclaw ( a very thorny shrub that has destroyed more than one pair of hiking pants and a tent). I am still learning about all the spikey, pokey things. I am careful of the animals and creepy crawlies. Respect is taught in a place such as this.

My time is quickly drawing to a close. It is getting too hot for me and I am beginning to feel parched. The dentist is also calling me back to San Diego. Hopefully, I am at the end of this dental event.

I will return to this rugged formidable land again and again. I love all the deserts that I have seen. The California desert is amazing. Yet, have you ever seen southern Utah and northern and southern Arizona? Each area is so different and so desert. I am grateful to have been introduced to this land, to this amazing landscape, and to the desert.

Today I am thankful for my time near the Salton Sea. It has been good to be reunited with friends. It has been good to reunite with this rugged, wonderful environment. The Desert.

Finally, Into the Desert

What to do between dental appointments. There are so many choices. I guess I could have stayed in San Diego yet I am a traveler and a nomad.

How can a desert lover resist the pull of the desert? I chose to go to Salinas and the Monterey area in February when I would usually be out in the desert for the winter. It was time to change it up. I swear I could hear the desert questioning why I wasn’t there. It lures you in and the hold is strong.

Last Friday early, I climbed into my rig and headed to eastern California to kayak in the desert. Yep, you heard me right, kayak in the desert. It is a strange thing to think of water in a desolate and dry land and yet there it is.

The Colorado River begins high in the Rocky Mountains. It meanders its way southwest, through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and then rides along the border of California and Arizona before it would empty into the Sea of Cortez. It is the lifeblood of the west. Water is like gold. It is fought over and protected in a land that is often dry and forbidding.

Since it supplies water to such areas as Phoenix and Southern California the Colorado water is managed. Dams have created a playground in Southern California and Arizona right in the heart of the desert. Where one would not expect lakes, they are plentiful.

I met a friend of mine, Cori, at Squaw Lake, and on a perfectly sunny, not too warm day we took off to explore the lake and a small section of the Colorado River, where the currents can be surprisingly strong and sneaky. We kayaked for close to 4 hours in this unique land. Cori and I talked and weaved our way through “The Nile” and eventually made it to the river. It was a perfect day, perfect company, and a perfect kayak.

Swinging in the Salton Sea

We have both moved north to the Salton Sea, a dead accidental sea in the middle of the southern California desert. Not much lives in it as it is extremely salty. On the east side of the Salton Sea, there are hot springs. The Fountain of Youth RV Resort & Spa is a winter attraction for those who live in the northern United States and Canada. It is warm and pleasant in the winter. The days warm into the 80’s Fahrenheit and down to the ’40s at night.

I have friends from Michigan and New Mexico staying here for the winter. After a Covid year off it is good to meet up with everyone again. We all own Roadtreks. Owning one of these RVs has certainly added to my life in my ways. I have met and become friends with so many good people.

I have been walking and soaking in the pools and hot springs. This morning I went to Yoga. I spend much of my time alone so it is nice to visit with such good and dear friends. After almost two Covid years I have to practice being social again.

I am here for another week and a half before the dentist once again lures me back to San Diego. Sigh. The good news is I am almost done with the dentist.

What’s Next? I have no idea. Plans will take shape as spring emerges. Meanwhile, I am enjoying my brief time in the desert this year. I am enjoying my friends.

Today I am thankful, for the desert, for tried and true friends, and that I can take my kayak almost anywhere and find water to launch it.

A Month in Salinas

Today I realized that my month in Salinas, CA is almost up. It feels like I just arrived when in truth I have been here for three weeks. Time has a way of slipping by.

What have I been doing with my time? What spectacular places have I discovered? How is the whole house-sitting thing going? What is next and next and next?

Here are some of the things I have been doing with my time in northern California.

  • I have discovered the Elkhorn Slough. The Slough is in the center of Monterey Bay and is managed by the Nature Conservancy. One can hike or kayak and bird watch in and around the Slough. I have taken full advantage of it’s close proximity to Salinas. I think I will kayak for an hour or so and then three hours later I am returning to my put in at Moss Landing, hungry and happy for a day on the water. And, oh the wildlife I have seen. It is definitely a place worth exploring.
  • The Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove was alive with Butterflies. By the time I leave on March first the butterflies will also be migrating. I am glad I saw them. It is a special place.
  • Calla Lily Valley at the north end of the Big Sur Coast was in full bloom. After enjoying the lilies I made my way out to the beach and admired the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
  • Wineries abound in this area. I spent my first Saturday afternoon at the Folktale Winery, tasting wine and listening to good music.
  • I have done a lot of walking around Salinas. I have enjoyed looking at the well cared for and lovely homes in the neighborhoods.
  • I have explored the coastal communities. I have been in and out of several state parks and explores some of the local wildlife refuges. I love being outside and exploring the natural settings.
  • And then, there is Woody the Cat. He is a darling boy who I am glad to have met. This cat craves affection. He snuggles with me every night. I have found him sleeping next to my face, on my head and under the covers. He is a delightful boy, a charming personality.
  • My bicycle has two new tires and is tuned up for another season. It rides well. It is always good to find the good bike shops in town.
  • Although not submitted, my taxes are complete. This is the first year in many years that I have done my own taxes. Turbo Tax made it relatively easy. My “accountant” Cynthia (not offically my accountant) will review them with me before I submit them. It is good to have friends who understand accounting and are willing to help. I am thankful for Cynthia’s help.

I could go on but as you can see my time, even when I am in new places, is a mix of adventure, and getting things done. It is no different than yours. We go have fun and then we do taxes.

Where to next? I am returning to San Diego for most of March. My dentist and I have an ongoing relationship of many years. I am returning to San Diego to once again get involved with dental work. Oh joy. I once told Jim, my husband that he should have checked my mouth before he married me. With his usual roll of the eyes, he laughed and proceeded to love me, no matter what.

Today I am thankful for the opportunities that continue to gift my life. I am thankful for the dentist. I am thankful for Woody. Today I am thankful.

House Sitting Adventures Continue

Where has the time gone? I have been in San Diego for over two months. All my medical and dental care is done and I am ready to venture out. Am I going to the desert? That is where I usually go in the winter. Change is in the air. I am departing later this week for Salinas, CA.

I have another house and kitty sitting adventure for a month, while a friend of mine goes off in her Roadtrek to visit with friends and plays in the desert.

Salinas is near Monterey and the Pacific Ocean. I am looking forward to kayaking and biking opportunities. It is good to explore new places. The ocean becomes more rugged as one adventures into northern California. I love to be around wild water.

I am so excited to be around kitty again. Mandy tells me that Woody the kitty is very friendly and will most likely sleep with me. Ooh, I am thrilled! I am ready to enjoy a cat. It has been over two years since Miss Elsie went on walkabout. It will be so good to be sharing space with a kitty again.

After being stationary for a while it takes a bit of organization and planning to get ready to get “on the road” again. My rig has been washed, waxed, and detailed. I have had the opportunity to fix small things that needed fixing. She has been cleaned and is ready to go.

All things that have been moved inside the home where I am staying, thank you Cynthia & Ward, have to be moved back into my tiny home. Everything has to find its place. All the details of moving again can be a bit overwhelming. I find if I move things into the RV a little at a time it becomes more manageable and things find their places easily.

I have to figure out where I will be camping. That is not as easy as it used to be. Due to Covid more people are camping now and finding reservations at state park campgrounds and even private campgrounds is more challenging. Thankfully I have Harvest Hosts and Bonndockers Welcome memberships. I really enjoy these alternatives to campsite competition. I usually meet delightful people on these camping adventures. Sometimes I get to sample wines when I stay at Vineyards for the night.

I want to take a moment to thank Cynthia and Ward for their continuing hospitality. Cynthia and I started as friends. During the first year of Covid, they lovingly took me in. We spent almost nine months living in the same house together. Our friendship grew and when I finally departed it felt like I had left family behind. This year they were giving me a place to stay while my rig was in the shop. What started out as a week’s stay became two months. I will miss them when I depart. I appreciate their ongoing hospitality and loving support. Good friends are indeed a treasure.

As I prepare to move, I invite you to join me in the unknown adventures that lay before me. Please, come along for the ride.

Today I am thankful for friends, my little rig, and opportunities that continue to be offered to me.

I am Getting Ready to Roll.

Another Year

Fall represents a time of coming in. The harvests are in and hopefully, people are celebrating a bounty. The daylight hours shorten. It is a time of coming in, physically inside, inside the heart, inside the mind.

When October arrives I begin to brace myself for the journey through Jim’s birthday, October tenth. Jim (my husband) died in October 2012. The day before his birthday was his last hospital admission. Then my birthday arrives, October sixteenth. October seventeenth in the early evening hours, my husband of twenty-one years died. On November seventeenth we took his ashes to sea on a glorious San Diego morning.

Each year I wonder what this period of time will look like. Will I want to be with others? Will I want to be alone? Will I celebrate my birthday? It took me two years after his death to celebrate my sixtieth birthday. Will I be sad or grateful for this time in my life?

This year I found myself wanting to be alone and settle with my heart. It was a quiet day on Whidbey Island, where I was house sitting. I decided I really did not want to take phone calls. I was in a good and quiet place and I wanted to savor that time and the contentment I felt.

I still have a small amount of Jim’s ashes, ready to be given to the Rocky Mountains, when I get there. Three weeks before my house sitting gig was finished on Whidbey Island, I took two teaspoons of the ashes to Callahan Firehouse Glass in the town of Langley and had a memorial pendant made. I did not want a pendant for my neck, I wanted something larger so he could ride on the mirror in my rig. I gave them my order and told the artist to be creative.

Just before I left Langley I picked up the pendant. The woman who creates this artwork was at the store to give me the pendant. She told me that she does ceremonies around each pendant she creates. She spoke with Jim while blowing the glass. And remembered the stories I had told to the woman who had taken my order.

The pendant is beautiful. The blues in it match his eyes(light blue) and his Modern Morgan Kilt(darker blue). The white that sparkles through are his ashes. Now Jim gets to see my world. When the sun hits it just right there is a diamond flare of light that hits the bottom or top of the glass. I think it is Jim winking at me.

This feels like another step in the continuation of moving forward and embracing my life. This year there was a settling in, a feeling of comfort within myself that has not been there since he left.

And, speaking of Jim…Today is Giving Tuesday. When Jim died, with the help of Grossmont College where he worked most of his adult life, I created a scholarship in his name, the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship. These scholarships help students afford to attend college and create careers for themselves. I have met a few of the students and each semester the college sends me a letter that the student who was awarded the scholarship writes. When I read these essays it gives me hope for the future no matter what the age of the student

If you would like to donate to Jim’s Scholarship today or any time please do so. Here is the link to the Change Makers site. Change Makers are students that achieve if supported. If you donate today the scholarship will receive double the amount of your donation. I already did my yearly donation earlier in the day. In the memo section type in Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship so that the donation will be directed to the appropriate area. It is a good time to donate. Remember that tax season is right around the corner.

I am feeling grateful for another year. I am glad that I allow myself to adventure into my feelings, good or bad. Each year I see my own growth and am thankful. I am thankful for the time I had with Jim. I am thankful that I am still here and growing. Today is a good day.

Everyday Heros

A hero is a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities. People need heroes because heroes save or improve lives by inspiring others. Heroes have the ability to turn others into heroes as well.

A few days ago while I was traveling in Oregon I met Pebble and Dick. They were standing on the jetty in Newport, Oregon bird watching with their spotting scope and binoculars. Dick had all the latest gadgets so he could take iPhone pictures on the scope. They were avid bird watchers. Did I forget to mention that Pebble and Dick were just short of their ninetieth birthday? Pebble had fallen while out birding four years ago and broke both her ankles. Yet here she was standing tall on a cold day. I also noted how they have continued to embrace and change as technology has advanced. Just because one ages, doesn’t mean they have to be stuck in the past. As with anyone they continue to grow and change and learn. 

I used to hike with the Sierra Club while living in San Diego. It was the Wednesday in the Mountains group. Most hikers were retired and moving at a pretty good pace. Paul was close to ninty and was still hiking (most often in the lead) and every year traveled to Mexico to teach ESL to students. 

Another man in this group had hiked the Grand Canyon each decade. When he was reaching his ninetieth birthday he had to cancel his hike because his son was sick and needed someone to help him out. 

Santa Fe, NM-closed sign during Covid

Many years ago I was a regular attendee of Quaker Meeting. Sitting in silent worship and waiting for the voice of God to speak through you was not always an easy task. I started attending Meeting for Worship because of a man I was dating. I stayed a long time after the relationship had disappeared. The quality I admired in most of the attendees was their call to action. They didn’t preach about what needed to be done, they were active in their beliefs. If they felt called to help refugees coming across the southern border, they were helping out. One woman spoke about her experience in Nicaragua sitting with a child whose father was kidnapped by the rebels. They thought the wife and child would be taken too. Someone stayed with the mother and child twenty-four hours a day. If they were taken while people sat with them it would then become an international incident, not just one more disappearance. 

I must not forget the nurses, doctors, firemen, policemen, teachers and other civil servants who put their lives on the line every day to help the rest of us maintain a good and positive life. 

All these people and many of my friends are my heroes. There are so many out in the world who help without being noted in the paper, on the news, or anywhere else. There are many very fine people in this world who through their actions and beliefs change my life and your life for the better. 

These everyday heroes, inspire me to do better, to be kinder, more patient, and loving towards others. 

Today I am thankful that I can recognize the everyday hero when I meet one. Today I am grateful to meet those who inspire me and help me to create good in my life. I am thankful for heroes.

The Continuing Saga of the Little Brown Bird

I left Whidbey Island in the middle of June shortly after Sandy and Jim arrived home. The night before I left I introduced them to my little song sparrow. By the end of daylight, it was sitting on Jim’s head and singing. I felt I left this bird in good hands.

Throughout the month that Sandy and Jim were home the relationship with this song sparrow continued. Sandy told me that as the time came closer to them leaving for their next campground hosting job they began to dissociate from him as they were concerned about how he would get along when the house was empty.

Robyn and Tom, the next-door neighbors, said they saw this charmer once about a week after the owners had left for their next hosting job in Yellowstone National Park. Then the bird was on his own.

I returned to Whidbey the first week of August. I arrived late in the afternoon, put my things down, and went out to the deck to see if a little brown sparrow was still about. Sure enough, just like that, there he was, singing and chitting just I like I had never left. I was so happy to see my bird. I felt like I was greeting a good friend.

Things were different between me and this sweet little bird. He no longer sat on my head and was often more comfortable sitting on the post near me and chitting rather than singing. One day I noticed he had only one tail feather. The next day both were gone. I was worried. I researched song sparrows and molting online. Sure enough, he was molting. It took very little time before the new tail feathers appeared and grew. Sparrows and most birds molt twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall.

His colors are more muted now and not the orangey-brown of springtime. He sings less often. Some days I see him once early in the day and not again. Other days, if I had been out and about I might not see him at all. Two Saturdays ago, my friend Melissa was visiting. He came into the bushes near where we were sitting and chatted to us for quite some time. When I tried to approach him he flew away. Sigh

No Tail Feathers

The next morning I went out on the deck to find him and welcome him for a visit. He was not there. It felt different. He had left. Then I noticed there were no sparrows around at all. The White-Crowned sparrows had disappeared. All the sparrows were gone. The Chickadees, Nut Hatches, Finches, and other birds were there and plentiful but not a sparrow in sight. What had happened?

Do sparrows migrate and where do they go? I put a post on Facebook to the Birders in the Northwest region and discovered sparrows migrate to Texas and southern climates for the winter. I assumed my bird friend was on his way south to stay warm and find plenty of food and maybe a mate.

Five days later he returned along with three other song sparrows. I was still in bed when I heard a familiar song out in the back and there he was along with his buddies. My heart was glad. I was immediately up and down the stairs to welcome him back. He remains a bit more distant. His singing has returned and it was a delight to welcome my sweet little birdy friend back to my Whidbey Island life. I am told that when they molt they disappear into the bushes.

The seasons are beginning to hint at change. I know he must go. I am glad that I have let him be a bird. I have not hand-fed him or encouraged him to be anything else other than a little wild bird who has welcomed me into his circle. One time I found a large dead moth and presented it to him as a gift. I have never seen him so excited. He looked down onto the bench where I had laid it. He snatched it up and disappeared into the brush to enjoy a meal.

I don’t know how long he will be here. I see less and less of him now. Often I will hear him early in the morning. I am immediately up and outside to say hello. Some days he is not here at all. When he does come it is usually early in the day.

I am glad I have had some practice at his not being here. It is a bit hard to admit that I grieved for this little bird when he disappeared for those five days. Next time I hope I will buck it up and wish him well and send him on his way. However, I have to remember if this little bird was human I would feel the grief of loss just like when a friend moves away or stops communicating.

By allowing me into the circle of his life he has become more than just another little brown bird. He has become my friend. I feel blessed to have been chosen by this little bird. I have learned a lot about myself and life through this unique and special friendship. There is an unspoken yet very recognizable responsibility when one becomes friends with another. It is important to nurture these friendships, no matter how long they may be in one’s life. The value of friendship is what makes a being unique and special in my heart.

I have spent a lot of time outside and have had time to observe and breathe nature. Many birds come to the feeders, each one is unique. I have witnessed the change of seasons from early spring into fall. The circle of seasons in the yard is special to be a part of. The birds have gone from their spring glory of color to more muted colors. They sing less now. The hummingbirds disappeared for about two weeks while nurturing their young before they returned to the feeders again. My sparrow has grown from a young bird into full maturity. Often he sings for the joy of it, but it is also a way to get the girls to notice. As these little birds come to the feeders I have allowed them to recognize and trust a safe environment. None of them except one little brown song sparrow allowed me to become more intimately involved in their natural life.

I will treasure this moment of time in my life. This wee little bird crept into my heart and opened it to experience the joy of friendship in this somewhat lonesome time. (Covid) It has been a joyous and welcome respite.

Oh yes, truly, today and every day I am so grateful for moments in time that awaken my heart. Today and all days to come I am thankful and so grateful for this sweet little Song Sparrow who happens to be my friend.