Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bald Eagle

Last year I drove all the way over to Starved Rock to see eagles. Imagine my surprise when this year I saw one practically in my back yard over along the Fox River in Batavia. Just a reminder to keep my eyes open for nature in all places.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Call of the Wild

They must have been talking to me for at least ten minutes, but I didn't hear them, too caught up in my human conversations to notice. It wasn't until my friend's 16 year old son, raised with an ear for nature, asked if I heard the cranes. It was only then that I realized I had been hearing their chortle as background noise for quite some time. Looking upward, we saw Sandhill Cranes spiraling around and around in a circle, gaining altitude with each turn. In a matter of minutes, they were too high up to hear or notice, but the fact that I had almost missed them altogether left a lasting impression. I have been missing out on a lot of nature lately as all of my time and thoughts have been consumed with preparing to move. Recognizing how distance from nature brings about distance from myself, I was reminded of the following passage from John O'Donohue's book "Eternal Echoes":

Unlike us, Nature does not seem to suffer the separation or distance that thought brings. Nature never seems cut off from her own presence. She lives all the time in the embrace of her own unity. Perhaps, unknown to us, she sympathizes with our relentless dislocation and distraction. She certainly knows how to calm our turbulent minds when we trust ourselves into the silence and stillness of her embrace. Amongst Nature we come to remember the wisdom of our own inner nature.

Nature grounds me, keeps me whole and true to myself. The cranes calling to me today were a reminder of that need.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Life is Good

I meant to take a picture of Jimmy and Megan this weekend when they came to visit and I forgot, so I am using a picture I took of them last summer. Here they were then, helping me to shuck corn in preparation for a summer dinner. Amazing, it was almost a year ago that this picture was taken and now, with the move to New York City looming, I realize that this picture will not ever happen again...that life can change so quickly. One minute I am living in Chicago, and the next mintue it all changes when I discover my husband is being transfered to New York City. Last summer Chicago, this summer New York. It will be hard to leave, life has been so good to us here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


In preparation for my move, I have been busy cleaning out cupboards and closets, drawers and storage areas. This evening, as I cleared out a drawer in my bathroom, I stumbled across something I wrote just after moving to Illinois from Georgia four years ago. Here are a few paragraphs of what I wrote then:

"I discovered a mother Carolina Wren building her nest in my garage in Georgia last year and had to move it. She squawked at me terribly, not fully understanding why my garage was not a good place to raise her young. I am sure she had painstakingly chosen each twig, blade of grass and other duff and carefully wove it around and made it secure. Moving a nest is not easy.

Moving for me is never easy. Even when it may be for my own good or for my family's own good. Each friendship that I form in a place serves to make me strong so that I can in turn protect and nurture my family. I weave those friendships around myself and form a tight safe bond. When my nest is moved, I am forced to try and reconstruct it. To find those people that bring meaning into my life. It takes time and is never easy."

I suspect that the mother wren whose nest I moved in Georgia went on to successfully rebuild and raise her brood. She had the innate ability to go forth and make things work for her family despite any obstacle put in her way. Picking up new sticks and animal fur and weaving them together, she slowly began anew.

My nest here in Illinois has been woven together with the friendship of my cousin Susan who I have known since we were young girls visiting my grandmother's cottage in Michigan, my college roommate Peggy who I met almost 30 years ago, and my friends Katherine, Chris & Jamie. Providing additional strength and support to what I built here were my friends that live out of state- Annie, Marlyn, Marsha, Toni Ann, and Jane.

As I prepare to move once again. the sadness of leaving this place and these friends behind is slowly beginning to creep in. It is hard to start again. To pick up the pieces in a new place and weave them together. Unlike the wren, I don't feel like I have a natural built-in ability to build anew. My ability to start over comes from the support I receive from my friends both near and far. Just knowing that they will only be a phone call or email away will get me through this.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Garage Sale on Wheels

I felt like a peddler, carrying my wares on my back, as I drove eastward toward a bowling alley where my homeschool group was meeting today. My car was packed full of my boy's outgrown childhood possessions and my homeschool group had been notified via email that I was coming. I had a few goals- put a smile on the faces of kids I knew and keep my boy's toys from going into a landfill. I charged $2 per bag to ensure that everything would go.
I wasn't sure what kind of a response I would get, but as soon as I pulled into the parking lot, shoppers began arriving. It only took about 15 minutes to get rid of most of the things. Not only did I prevent my kid's things from going into the landfill, but I encouraged these parents to purchase used toys and books for their children, thus reducing the production of goods. All around everyone won.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Antiques..recycling at its best

I was probably the 5th , or maybe even the 10th owner of the small white cupboard that I sold to an antique dealer this week. This piece of history, at least 70 years old, was obtained by me six years ago at a show in Kentucky and will be recycled when it is sold by its current owner at a shop in Sandwich, Illinois.

I have been purchasing recycled antique furniture since I first married back in 1985 and have enjoyed the benefits of buying and selling things for my home, knowing that what I get rid of will not be going into a landfill when I no longer need them, but to someone else who appreciates old things.

As my husband and I prepare for our move to New York, we are in the process of downsizing. With one son at college and the other moving into his teens, we realize that we are moving into a new phase in our lives. We no longer need so much space or so much stuff so we are getting rid of things. This week, as I let go of my church pew from an old Baptist church in Georgia and a blue hanging cupboard that was originally a storage piece, it felt good to know that my stuff was not going to be sitting at the curb waiting for the trash man to pick up, but to another home by way of a antique dealer.

Next time you are in the market for new furniture, consider picking up an antique instead. You will not only be buying something functional for yourself, but also something with a piece of history. Many nights as I sit at my dining room table, I think of all the family meals shared there during the hundreds of years it has been around. I wonder about the stories of the families that came before mine and those that will come after mine and think about all that this one table will see in its lifetime.