Monday, December 19, 2016

Look Outside

I live right on a river in New Hampshire. My home is beautiful, but the views outside are really what make it spectacular. Living here has given me the opportunity to see fish, otters, muskrats, the occasional beaver, groundhogs, chipmunks, and SO MANY SQUIRRELS, all up close and personal.

While I love all of those critters, what has really kind of changed my life has been the birds.

So. Many. Birds.

When I first moved back to this area, I was walking outside when I interrupted a covey of quail. (And that, by the way, is your trivia of the day... a bunch of quail are called a covey. Who knew?) They were both extremely cute and unbelievably unafraid.  I stood there and they did their little adorable quail thing around my feet, pecking the ground and occasionally looking up at me to make sure I was still being cool.

On the outside I was being cool. On the inside it was more like this: "LOOK AT THE BIRDIES* THEY ARE AMAZING OH MY GOODNESS I CAN'T EVEN SQUEEEEEEEEE."

It was a moment.

Eventually, they scuttled off on their little feet, and I realized, oh, I am going to become that person.  I mean, I've always loved owls, but ALL birds? Birds were going to be a thing now?


When I moved into this building, one of the selling points (aside from the fact that I was homeless, haha) was this: the property manager pointed out that a heron had a nest just downstream and it was around a lot.  Usually right outside my windows, in fact.

Sold. To the crazy bird lady.

I have herons, gulls, wood ducks, mallard ducks (I once spent thirty minutes watching a momma duck herd her ducklings about, and oh my!), cormorants, phoebes, nuthatches, cardinals, titmouses (titmice?), woodpeckers, chickadees, hummingbirds -- they come to my windows and drive the cat insane, but they always make my day seem better. Always.

For the past few weeks, we haven't had a lot of birds around. I don't know if it's been the weather or what, but it's been very quiet outside of my windows. We had some weather and the birds started to come back -- new birds I hadn't seen before -- so both the cat and I were happy.

This morning, I was a little depressed. Holidays, unemployment, health, blah blah blah. I stayed in bed longer than I usually do, and then finally got up so I could feed the cat. I did our usual routine: stop in the book nook, take a look out over the water --

-- and that's when the kingfisher landed on the window sill.

I've never seen a kingfisher out there. Not once. And I certainly have never had one show up only to stare me down, which it did. It was magnificent. Feathers puffed out in the cold, regarding me patiently.

I, on the other hand, didn't dare to BREATHE. Or move. I didn't want to do anything at all that would scare it away. I felt as though it wanted to check me out, and I wanted to let it.

It cocked its head to one side, made a little bird noise as if to say, "You'll do," and then flew away.

Y'all, I don't know if there's a lesson or a moral to this story. I do know this: looking outside this morning has set what was fixing to be a terrible day on a much better path, and I think I need to do that more often. So maybe, if your day is a problem, and you feel stuck and sad, you could try looking outside.

It might not help.

But it might.

*I had to take a picture of them and email it to my dad to confirm that they were quail. I didn't used to be as bird-proficient as I am now.

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