Musky Business

Today I’m thankful for foxes.

I grew up in a city of about 250,000.  It’s mid-sized, as far as such things go.  Robins and jays were the biggest creatures I saw regularly.  My grandparents had a farm about an hour away.  We saw deer and hawks, and the occasional goldfinch, but not much of any size.

I left home for university.  I moved to a smaller city for work after graduating, with a population of about 60,000 people.  It was here that I saw my first wild fox.  I was going to work on a fall morning and saw a fox climb out of a sewer grate and simply trot along the street.  I didn’t see any kits.  It was late enough in the season that the sun wasn’t fully up.  I looked again, to verify what I was actually seeing.  I told my colleagues about the encounter.  Apparently it is a somewhat common occurrence here.

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On Nature, Vividly

Today I’m thankful for Mary Oliver.

Mary Oliver is an American poet.  Interestingly, she helped Edna St. Vincent Millay’s sister revise that late poet’s papers for publication.  Ms. Oliver is known for sparse, precise phrases that provoke vivid images of nature.  “Wild Geese” is probably her best known piece.  It’s a poem that keeps appearing in my own life.  If I were a superstitious person I’d wonder about it.  Thankfully I’m not.

I prefer “The Swan” to “Wild Geese.”

The Swan

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

From New And Selected Poems: Volume One by Mary Oliver, Beacon Press, Boston, 1992 (all rights to author and publisher)

I Miss The Mountains


Today I’m thankful for hiking.

I was able to spend a few days hiking in the mountains several months ago.  I enjoy hiking.  I detest camping.  So when I say “spend a few days hiking in the mountains” it means it was more rambling after lunch and sleeping on comfy beds.  No tents were harmed by use.  We were at least above 2,100 meters (7,000 feet) the entire time.  The picture is what I saw each morning.

It was stunning.  I grew up in a very flat region.  It was heavily glaciated during the last Ice Age.  Flat really is flat.  I love the mountains and am happiest in them.  John Muir got that bit right.  I wish I could claim some ancestral link to mountain dwellers, but that’s nonsense, and my folk mostly came from marshy areas.  We’re people of the flat and wet.

Butterflies At The Window

Today I’m thankful for kindness.

I was visiting family.  I saw a butterfly in one of their windows.  It was caught between the pane and the screen.  My brother-in-law carefully opened the window and then the screen, releasing it instead of letting it die in the window.  Butterflies generally live only for a few weeks so it probably wouldn’t have been a nuisance for very long.  The screen is old and fits the frame badly so getting it up and down again took some effort and an extra pair of hands.  It was a kind gesture by a good man.

Ancient Anatolia as a Side Hustle

Today I’m thankful for creative thinking.

I’ve been trying to figure out a side hustle.  I’m not particularly good at anything marketable so it’s been a pain.  I’m a good singer and great at data aggregation.  The one time I sang for pay it took all the joy out of the experience, and I’m not sure who’d pay for all the information I could collect about ancient Anatolia.

I’m a tree hugger.  I figure without an environment we won’t be able to survive as a species.  It’s just as likely we’ll blow ourselves up, but we need an actual livable planet if we make it that far.  I may have figured out how to combine most of those things together.  I’m not sure.