Wednesday, January 5, 2011
This year’s now retired Christmas tree sits waiting at the edge of the pond, like many before it, ready to become a fish house once it’s weighted enough to sink into a deep spot. Holidays have come and gone again. This New Year marked the end of a decade, the first of the 21st. It was not my favorite and I can’t say I am sorry to see it go. I remember at the end of 1999 how everyone was freaked about Y2K and how the bottom was going to fall out when the clock struck midnight and it became a new century. All the doom and gloomers were wrong about the day after being the apocalypse. No, it was the entire next decade that had so many dismal things occur in it. So in its passing I say good riddance and have hope that this next one will be more balanced and pleasant for all.
There have been many birthdays recently, of both friends and family, also markers that delineate passing of time. Time is linear and its passing is one direction and the future another. Our marking of birthdays, centuries, and years give us scope to our lives and a way to assess what to make of what we have done and what we want to do, given the uncharted amount of time left.
It came up the other day, the idea, that what would it be like if we all had no idea how old we were. If the passing of the annual celebration of our births were suddenly deleted, and no reference to it existed, how then would it change things? How does the knowledge of our age shape what we think, act, and live? If we had no calendar, no clocks, would we flounder in the lack of these markers that give pattern to our days or, would we live a freer existence in a sublime ignorance of the number of the passing days of our lives?
It is usually only in hindsight that one can see, oh, that was the last time we did that. Unless it is a conscious decision to never do something again, the things we think sometimes will go on forever, and we take for granted, one day stops, and we don’t even think about it until some point down the line and then realize it ceased to be. When was the last time I played tennis, held my young daughters in my lap, or kissed my grandmother on the cheek? These events passed silently, without my awareness, and so I wonder what events will I not recognize as being the last, until they too become the last. Will I know I am taking my last breath? Ah the questions that these markers of time bring forth.
Here on the farm the repetition of the season has its markers, by the repetition of visitors. Ducks that spend summer time in the north now find refuge here and so our pond is temporary home for various types. A Pied Billed Grebe has been hanging around as has been a group of Harlequin ducks. The males of these ducks are spectacular creatures of stunning black and white markings with a distinct silhouette and, regrettably, the females are drab and merely follow the males around the water, dabbling and diving under the surface to find dinner. Together they make for a splendid show and I wish they would visit longer but I enjoy them for the time here.
Canadian geese flocks have also returned and one pair in particular have staked out the feeding places of my two fillies. They float close by in the pond and wait for me to throw feed and hay, and then leave the water and waddle up closer and closer to see what scraps they can pick up. Cistine chases them off with a shake of her head until she is finished with hers and then they are allowed to glean the leftovers.
Many birds, mostly finches, have converged on the feeders hanging off the back porch today, especially since the weather is so yucky. They don’t seem to feel a threat from the two Red Shouldered Hawks that just landed in the dead tree close by, and remain focused on the free sunflower seeds, flitting and chirping as they fight over the kernels. Maybe they know these hawks would rather have bugs or frog than feather covered grub. They won’t last long doing that if a Sharp Shinned Hawk cruises thru and takes a stoop at them.
Years ago, I never jotted down the first time so I have no reference for knowing how long now, a black brindled calico cat started hanging around the barn area. She comes in the winter and then leaves in summer and fall. She too is a horse feed leftover scavenger. It has been at least 6 or 7 years now I know, but always somehow she manages to survive being a victim of all my silly dogs who think chasing fur is good sport. Yesterday as I went about my afternoon feeding I happened to finally notice that she sat, motionless, on the box seat of my parked carriage, only a few feet from the dogs who were right under her, apparently oblivious to her presence, but perhaps they knew and just weren’t in the mood at the time. She sat and glanced at me revealing nothing.