Warm and Cold and Warm Again

Weed Feb 27

The yard is warm and sunny today, sprinkled with blossoming weeds. A few weeks ago it was frozen and snowy.

Snow Feb 12

This year January and February saw days warm enough for house repairs (replacing wood damaged by carpenter bees), followed closely by days too cold for anything but reading and sleeping.

Damage 3

Bee

Ice January 18

Snow January 23

Some days were strangely confused, cold with bright sunshine or warm with dreary skies.

Vulture Feb 14

Seagull Jan 8

Bird Feb 20

Squirrel Feb 20

Sapsucker Jan 12

Robin Jan 20

Robin Jan 18

Our annual writers’ weekend at the beach brought a little bit of everything.

Beach Feb 1

Beach Feb 1

Beach Feb 4

Beach Feb 4

March will likely bring a little bit more of everything, but hopefully it won’t get fountain-freezing cold again.

Town Center Feb 11

Hopefully.

Sleep, eat, read… blog

Yard December 30

When I didn’t put together a blog post in late October, I resolved to make up for it in November. After November passed without a post, I planned something for December. And when January loomed with the blog still silent, I finally admitted that I had been neglecting more than the blog. I wasn’t procrastinating. I was depressed. Again.

Yard December 30

My inertia started with procrastination, but, as the days grew shorter and shorter, depression took over. In retrospect, I knew this all along. I tried to ignore the symptoms, but in mid-October I had quit doing most of the things I enjoy. The blog was just my most public absence.

Flowers Nov 9

By November, the yard and I were weather-worn and brittle.

Flowers Nov 9

Flowers Nov 9

Off and on in November I picked up my camera, took a few photos, and thought vaguely of how I would describe them in a blog post. Each time I decided to pay bills or clean out the closet instead. (More often than not, I then decided to put off the bills and the closet, too.) So this photo of spider eggs never posted:

Eggs November 24

Nor this exquisite moth:

Moth Sept 17

I woke briefly in mid-November, when the Yellow-rumped Warblers arrived, but soon drifted back into my sleep-eat-read-sleep routine.

Warbler Nov 16

Squirrel Nov 9

Rabbit Nov 9

As December counted down, I told myself lies about how busy I was with holiday preparations.

Ornaments Dec 26 2015

I told others these lies, too, because they were easier than admitting to everyone that the holidays made me feel sad and lonely. That, despite my love for festive decorations, much of my nostalgia is tinged with grief.

Ornaments Dec 26 2015

During my lost months, I watched flocks of birds gather and move on, feeling each time as if I had missed an important message.

Flock Nov 20

Birds Nov 9

Crow Nov 9

Then, one bright and unseasonably warm afternoon, a pair of vultures paused over the yard, basking in the sun. These beautiful, under-appreciated birds sent me scrambling for my camera, something I had not done in weeks.

Vulture Dec 10

Vulture Dec 10

Vulture Dec 10

And on Christmas Eve, despite dreary clouds and a threat of storms, I enjoyed an afternoon in the yard with my camera.

Starling Dec 24

This time I felt closer to getting the message.

Birds Dec 24

In the after-Christmas lull, I slept and ate and read and slept, but there was a spark of something different in the routine. A current of ambition to do more than sleep and eat and read. As I put away our decorations, I noticed a pot of pansies that I had never planted. And all the empty bird feeders.

Muscovy Jan 3

On the first Sunday of 2016, I took a walk with my old camera. As I photographed ducks and geese and seagulls, my internal dialogue became a patter of possible captions for the photos. That evening I edited the images with extra care, eager to post them. But I couldn’t decide how to post them. The blog had been silent for so long. Now that I was ready to post again, how should I explain my absence? Should I simply resume posting? Gloss over two months fogged by recurring depression?

Merganser Jan 3

If I tried to explain, would I be able to describe depression without being depressing? (I don’t believe I’ve succeeded, but I decided to post this anyway. Too many people avoid talking about depression for too many reasons, which makes it that much lonelier.)

Heron Jan 3

I’ve lived with depression (and its frequent companion–anxiety) for a very long time. Longer than I’ll usually admit. Compared to past experience, this bout was mild and short-lived. Now I’m making changes that should help speed my recovery. Over the weekend I stocked the kitchen with healthier food, started exercising, and spent more time outside with my camera. These are, I’ve learned, my best defenses.

Seagull Jan 3

So as January progresses, along with a more mindful schedule of sleeping and eating and reading, I’ll be walking and writing and blogging. (And renewing my efforts to learn meditation. More on this later.)

Mallard Jan 3

And as the days get longer and longer, I’ll start looking forward to spring. Because spring will come. It always does.

Mallard Jan 3

Nearing the End of a Hot Summer

Lizard Sept 7

Our hot, humid summer is turning brittle around the edges

Mantis July 27

Rabbit July 29

It’s reassuring, really, how fall arrives

Dragonfly July 28

Mockingbirds August 6

Even after the hottest of summers

Mantis July 31

I will miss the months of extravagance

Lantana July 6

Monarch July 21

But not for long

Bee July 17

Because spring is assured, even after the coldest of winters

Bee July 27

The Hummingbirds

Hummingbird August 23

Today was a fretful day for the hummingbirds. At least three were trying to stay close to the honeysuckle and the feeders, vying for a favored pair of branches in the pear tree. They chirped testily, launching attacks from far less desirable perches in the wax myrtles, occasionally looping the house in frustration.

Hummingbird August 23

They didn’t seem to mind my noisy camera, even when I moved to a chair beneath the tree. They were too busy guarding their airspace.

Hummingbird August 23

Hummingbird August 23

Hummingbird August 23

It seemed to me that every calorie they gleaned from the honeysuckle and the feeders, they quickly spent on aggression.

Hummingbird August 23

Hummingbird August 23

Hummingbird August 23

Watching them, I realized that I have often lived in similar fashion. Wasting my energy on ambition and envy, when it would have been wiser to sit still and enjoy the sunshine.

Hummingbird August 23

A Hummingbird and a Publication Note

Hummingbird June 11

The honeysuckle has been in full bloom much of the summer, but hummingbirds are rare so far. I’ve only seen one a handful of times, and each of those visits has been brief.

Hummingbird June 11

Last summer was our first hummingbird summer, so I don’t have a feel for “normal” hummingbird activity. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens as the summer wears on.

Hummingbird June 11

Publication Note:  My poem “Doppler Effect” posted at vox poetica on June 19. Many thanks to editor Annmarie Lockhart!