Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The joy of (re)discovery #phenology

Let's play a verbal version of  Name That Tune. Imagine Joni Mitchell's song with the chorus: "Don't it always seem to go / That you don't know what you've got til its gone..." Big Yellow Taxi is the answer in how many words? In February, six months from now, when they've been gone long enough, I'll have forgotten the heat and humidity and bugs and be complaining about the cold and snow and the beginnings of cabin fever. And then, six months after that, I'll again be grateful we live on the Anoka sand plain as the deluges repeat their annual pattern and the water drains into the aquifer. I wonder if the birds that use the driveway puddles for a bath miss it when it's dry. The Summer pattern runs about three days wet and four days dry. We've seen birds drinking from the "bird bath," but never bathing in it. Maybe once a week is as often as they need, or they could use dust for the avian equivalent of a sponge bath.

"Gimpy" turkey
"Gimpy" turkey
Photo by J. Harrington

This morning a different, longer cycle, pattern repeated itself and I discovered something I hadn't really noticed had gone missing. The (re)discovery gave me an unexpected jolt of joy. First, let's think about what gives  joy to many of us. For most of us I assume it's things like puppies, kittens,  our family's love, the beauty of nature, changing seasons, songs that bring back happy memories and good times, even poetry that beautifully captures feelings we've enjoyed at some time in our life. Some of us find joy in eating local foods, baking bread, and creating something that gives pleasure to others. A few(?) [many?] of us even have soft spots in our hearts for underdogs and cripples.

I'm not much of a reader of the Bible, but I recall a story about the shepherd's joy in finding the sheep that was lost, more than just herding the 99 who stayed pastured. Well, last year or maybe the year before there showed up a gimpy tom turkey who hobbled around the yard trying to keep up with his companions. He was missing one foot and the bottom part of a leg. No clue as to why, but remember, life can be tough for a turkey even when you're young and healthy and hearty and whole.

turkeys headed into the woods
turkeys headed into the woods
Photo by J. Harrington

We've been seeing fewer turkeys in general this Summer so having "Gimpy" missing didn't really register. This morning, though, there were four tom turkeys wandering through the yard. One of them was a limping, gimpy turkey. I'm pretty sure it's "Gimpy." That recognition gave me a warm feeling and a smile I hadn't realized I'd misplaced. Then, on top of that, the sun came out. What a great day so far. I hope yours goes at least as well.

Bright Day


By Stanley Moss


I sing this morning: Hello, hello.
I proclaim the bright day of the soul.
The sun is a good fellow,
the devil is a good guy, no deaths today I know.
I live because I live. I do not die because I cannot die.
In Tuscan sunlight Masaccio
painted his belief that St. Peter’s shadow
cured a cripple, gave him back his sight.
I’ve come through eighty-five summers. I walk in sunlight.
In my garden, death questions every root, flowers reply.
I know the dark night of the soul
does not need God’s eye,
as a beggar does not need a hand or a bowl.


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