What year is it in your imagination?
~ Lynda Barry
I looked over at my neighbor, the song sparrow, and thought about how just a few years ago, I wouldn’t have known its name, might not have even known it was a sparrow, might not have even seen it at all. How lonely that world seemed in comparison to this one! But the sparrow and I were no longer strangers. It was no stretch of the imagination, nor even of science, to think that we were related. We were both from the same place (Earth), made of the same stuff. And most important, we were both alive.
~ Jenny Odell, How to Do Nothing
This morning there was a large flock of Myrtle Warblers visiting the juniper at the front of the house. Blue Jays, Eastern Bluebirds, and some kind of woodpecker (I wasn’t able to get a good look at him or her) joined them. On the lawn was a small group of Northern Flickers. Did you know one of the names for a group of flickers is a menorah? This is the time of year we usually see the flickers gathered on the lawn. In summer they are more elusive.
Warblers are said to symbolize the expression of self and ideas, the enjoyment of life, socialization, movement, and expansion. They are certainly quite active and social birds. They gather here in our woods during the winter months. The first time I saw them was on the Life of the Forest Trail at Assateague Island National Seashore. They were flitting all over the place in the woods and at the edge of the woods. I’ve since noticed them here in our woods and, like this morning, at the juniper in front of the kitchen window. When insects are scarce, they eat the fruit (berries) of wax-myrtles (hence, their name and, it should be noted, they are the only birds that eat and can digest the waxy berries from the wax-myrtles), junipers, poison ivy, and Virginia creeper, to name a few.
A group of warblers is sometimes known as a confusion, and that makes sense to me, too. The way they flit about so quickly and what looks to be randomly can be confusing to watch. I think they sometimes confuse themselves. Two of the warblers from this morning’s group ended up stunned on the back deck, and neither M nor I are quite sure how that happened. Normally when we see them sitting dazed and confused near the patio doors, we associate it with the loud thump of a bird hitting the window. During the summer months, when that is more likely to happen, we keep the blinds closed so that the birds don’t think they can fly right through the house (towards the windows at the front). This has been a successful maneuver. Once we began doing that, the birds stopped flying into the glass of the patio doors. Since this has never happened during the winter months, we don’t worry about it so much.
How the two warblers on the deck ended up stunned is a mystery because there was no telltale thump against the glass. From all appearances, they had been fighting. Perhaps they knocked heads. I’m happy to report that after about ten minutes of recovery time, both birds were able to take off in flight again. Whether or not that means they’ll survive, I don’t know. I’ve read that even after they appear to recover, they die shortly after they leave due to the head injury. I hope that’s not the case.
Wildlife in the winter months is very visible and active around the ranch. Our resident red fox has been out and about, sometimes sunning herself at the edge of the Future Woods. She looks quite happy and healthy so I have to assume the rodent population has provided her with plenty of food.
One of the people I follow on Instagram, Susan Loughrin, has a tradition of observing what she calls the #12daysofnatureomens. Every day, beginning December 26, you step outside and wait to see what shows up. You can journal about it or take a photo or both. Each of the days corresponds to the twelve months of the year (December 26, for instance, would correspond with January, December 27 with February, etc.). So far, I have seen:
- December 26: Crow
- December 27: Red Fox
- December 28: Squirrel
- December 29: White-Tailed Deer
- December 30: Snow Goose
- December 31: Myrtle Warbler
As omens go, this is what those animals symbolize (using Ted Andrews’ book, Animal-Speak):
- Crow: The secret magic of creation is calling.
- Red Fox: Feminine magic of camouflage, shapeshifting, and invisibility.
- Squirrel: Activity and preparedness.
- Deer: Gentleness and innocence — gentle luring to new adventure.
- Snow goose: The call of the quest and travels to legendary places.
- Warbler: Not in the book so I’ll go with what I posted above — the expression of self and ideas, the enjoyment of life, socialization, movement, and expansion.
If this is to be believed, it looks like the first six months of 2020 should be interesting. Oddly, they somewhat correspond to what you might think would happen during those months. The magic of the new year and beginnings in January, going inward in what is typically the longest month of winter (February — and yes, I know it’s the shortest month but I also know that for those in the depth of winter, February drags on forever), the busy-ness and activity of the first month of spring (March), April’s invitation to get out more, becoming more outward bound in May, and the socializing and enjoyment of the first month of summer (June).
Normally my last day of the year post would be a looking back and then looking forward. I think I’ll just sum up 2019 as a good year, at least on a personal level (meaning that nothing terrible happened in my personal life). In terms of the politics and current events, peh. It’s not worth the aggravation of a summary. That said, I find myself becoming more and more radical with age, tired and angry and sick of the society we’ve created. I believe if there’s any hope for us at all, everything has to change. Even our political system — maybe especially our political system. If nothing else, the election of 2016 showed us the obvious flaws in that.
As for looking forward, although I didn’t settle on one word for the year, I do have an inkling of an idea from the word Rewilding, a word that’s been showing up for me everywhere. I only recently heard of the word and the concept. It’s an environmental movement, for one thing, and something M and I have been doing for decades when it comes to allowing nature to pretty much do its thing while also giving us space to walk around on the land that we care for (and that probably owns us more than we will ever own it). We let as much go wild as we can, mowing as little as possible, and always following the wildlife trails/corridors when we widen paths for us to walk on.
Rewilding is defined as a verb meaning 1) To reverse the process of domestication, and 2) To return to a more wild or self-willed state (definition from Rewild.com). Rewilding “means returning to our senses, returning to ourselves, and coming home to the world we never stopped belonging to” (also from Rewild.com). Perhaps it could even come to mean surrendering to the world we never stopped belonging to.
For me, it will be about a deeper exploration of the land and planet I live on in hopes of developing a deeper connection to Mother Earth (and to earth as an element, now that I think about it).
I think that’s about it from me for today. Thank you so much for stopping by. May the new year bring you much joy, peace, warmth, good health, rest when you need it, and the abundance that comes from love. May you find time to spend outdoors, enjoying the beauty of nature.
Be good, be kind, be love. ♥
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,206) All of the beings who share this land and earth with us. 1,207) Having access to a place like the Point where we can go to watch the sunsets or to swim or just to be. 1,208) Long walks with M. 1,209) The variety of clouds and colors. 1,210) Recovering from the Toddler Plague.