My bride and I have not done anything newspaper worthy in dealing with the quarantine. We have established a routine that is engaging enough to keep us busy with a few fillips to make it a bit more interesting. We each have our savior. Her’s is the telephone, my nemesis since the cell phone and robo call (what was wrong with the phone staying home and everyone having a nickel, dime, or quarter–depending on the period of time we’re talking about–in their pocket for the pay phone?) But it’s her lifeline and she’s welcome to it.
Mine is this maddening machine. Technology-challenged is a polite way to describe my relationship with computers. She talks, I write. Usually I can get the thing to type what I want and for a writer that is wonderful.
We try to take an early evening daily walk. Florida, as if it doesn’t have enough problems, is in the midst of an early heat wave. It’s hotter than usual, more humid than usual, and portends, it shouldn’t be a total loss, brush fires and a severe drought. The double whammy is that the water we’ll need to drink will be used to put out the fires started usually by lightening but occasionally by arsonists or idiots.
We’re hard into spring cleaning, she and I. My advice is this. Don’t get three or four springs behind. It’s almost overwhelming but if you target an area or project and only do that ’til it’s done two things happen. One is only one room or area looks like a warehouse. The other is you can finish that area and see that you’ve accomplished something. That’s a good thing.
At night we eat, have a drink, and dive into our chosen binge watch. Currently it’s The Americans. Prime Video makes it an aggravating challenge but mostly we’re good.
I have discovered something for myself, a secret. It’s there for anyone to discover but most of you pay no attention. It is listening to the birds sing. It’s spring. They have two tasks; find a mate and build a nest. To do that that males call out to the females and the females call back. It is spring every where in America so this is happening all around you just like it happening all around me. An anonymous philosopher wrote, “Birds are a miracle because they prove to us there is a finer, simpler state of being which we may strive to attain.”
I first realized it when I noticed a pair of doves, who coo not sing, take up courtship about three feet from my right elbow, on the window ledge to the right of my desk. As I watched them I realized that some one night had hung hundreds of flowers on the tree we planted in our front yard five years ago. They are the doves’ backdrop. The branches had at least two occupants, Chickadees of some variety and a Mockingbird. They were, and are as I write this, singing their brains out. But to whom? We live on a cul-de-sac and in the semi-circle at the end is another, much larger than ours tree. In it were several Chickadees and Mockingbirds. Now I had it in stereo. It got even better when I walked the dog because nothing muffled the unbridled joy of their seductions or my unbridled joy from how listening made me feel.
We also have an annual visitor. It’s a pair of Cardinals, he bright red, she an “I should have re-painted the house years ago” brown. There is inequality even in bird-dom. They take up in a tree around the corner and sing operatically until they mate and then they are gone again ’til next year. Yet the month or so they are here they provide an ever so much more relaxing time than did the Cardinal who lived in my boyhood backyard. I think he had a crush on my mother because every evening as she stood by the sink the bird did this kamikaze routine of flying directly into the window that was above the sink and overlooked the garden. It would beat itself senseless, fall to the background, stagger around like a drunk with cartoon stars circling his head, get his breath, and then repair tohis tree for two aspirin and a night of sleep.
The Mocking bird is an interesting bird as one might guess from it’s name. Its song is so melodious that in the 1800’s it was trapped, caged, and kept like canaries. They were so popular that eventually it affected the population and trapping them became illegal. The other unique thing about the Mocking Bird, other that they are really nasty if you get too close to their nests, is its ability to imitate the songs of other birds, hence, I believe, the name. Why mother nature gave the bird this ability isn’t relevant here. What is relevant is that listening to a Mocking Bird can be like listening a chorus of different birds all emanating from the same beak. To get an edge on the competition one male has taken his place on the peak of our garage. Dawn ’til dusk his notes waft up into the airwaves and down into the driveway. He’s a tonic that I don’t have to go to the store for, order from Amazon, or pay one penny to enjoy.
You say you live in an apartment? Well throw open a window or two. Instead of yelling, “I’m sick and tired and won’t take it any more” just pull up a chair and listen. Simple. Easy. What could be better? And if all you’ve got is pigeons, get your head into their cooing. It’s lovely. A balm for the trapped soul.
So I offer this to you, dear reader, as an add-on to whatever you do to keep yourself from becoming like the cardinal of my youth and go batty. Listen to what nature is providing. Initially, I had a brief thought that I ought to take binoculars with me. I nixed it. First go ahead, you try and focus on something while the dog is doing its Iditerod thing looking for his favorite spot. Secondly, it seems to me that seeing the bird singing “up close and personal” adds little to the experience. They have small mouths that don’t move much when they sing and unlike the Pavarotti’s of the world, expect for a little chest puffery, they don’t do much other than sing. Listening suffices. Go for a walk and open up your ears or sit in your yard or on your porch, maybe with the book, and instead of putting on a 24-hour canned satellite music station, let nature provide the background entertainment. It’ll do you a world of good–at least from my perspective.
Bill Gralnick is on a keel. He’s just not sure if its even or not…You can test him yourself by following his weekly blogs at htt://www.atleastfrommyperspectiveblog.wordpress.com or his blogs and a ton of other stuff on my website http://www.williamgralnickauthor.com
And never forget his mantra: “Read! It’s good for both of us.”