Watching and Waiting for Change: Week Five

At week five, our whistling tree ducks and ducklings remain residence of our now, most times, unused backyard. For all the surprise and attention on these visitors, something has been lost. Freedom for our dog as mentioned earlier, but also the time we used to spend on the patio and tending to our backyard has been massively cutback. The herb garden we started in spring in the spirit of new beginnings, seems to be stagnant in it’s growth. Much neglected outdoor furniture waits to be painted, the grass is brown from drought and watering restrictions, yard art gathers cobwebs from the lack of a breeze; it’s not pretty!

This is not all the ducks fault. Afterall, it is the dead of summer, and the days are often in the high 90s, with the blinding sun bleaching out all traces of color. We tend to go from the car, to work, to business, to the house, with little ‘hanging out’ in the yard during this season in the south. Of course, I speak only for my husband and myself, native northerners, who have acclimated the best we can, but whose summer experiences were quite different as children. I’ve always said that this is an upside-down world. In the dead of winter in North Dakota, Minnesota, and other familiar states…people tend to get ‘shut in’ due to the extreme cold and bitter winds. Windows are sealed, plastic sometimes placed on the exterior windows of older homes, furnaces going day and night, with the hope of spring’s arrival. Here, summers are that way for me, with the hope of autumn’s arrival when windows will open again and I’ll be set free to enjoy unconditioned air and the fragrances of the season. I experience cabin fever in summer.

I know not all Texans live this way. My own children, raised in this summer heat, sit at pools, float the river in colorful tubes, hang out in yards and on the back of pickup trucks listening to music from the dance halls; comfortable in what they have always known. Not mama. I try, really I do, and have found from time-to-time that once I allow myself to just ‘be’ in the heat long enough, I somehow adapt and don’t focus on my discomfort. Years ago, when hiking in the snowy woods of northern Michigan, I was told to ’embrace the cold,’ to breath it in and relax in it’s briskness. It worked, and that wisdom got me through years of icy cold winters allowing me to get out and play!  I suppose the same holds true for the heat. If not for the sun, which effects my sensitve eyes, I think I might fair better in this long season. But like all of life, we keep adapting because…we must…otherwise we’d miss living altogether!

The ducklings are adapting to their limited space and must be internally looking forward to taking flight from this little comfortable rut they must live in for now. If only they could clean up their own poop! It stinks, making the occasional sit on the front porch on a hot humid night nearly unbearable. We have been told by animal rescue that unless the birds are in danger, they will not move them. And as much as I have enjoyed watching them grow and explore, I find myself yearning for the freedom to let the dog out with ease and to smell the ‘normal’ smells of summer, not bird droppings.

Before long, in spite of the stench and loss of freedom, I’m sure we will feel a touch of sorrow when they finally do find the strength and desire to leave. In the meantime, they have become very skiddish, hiding under the bush or behind the shrubs, making it very difficult for me to take pictures of them. Perhaps it was the dog scare or it’s the ducklings own sense of ‘danger in the world’ that they must be learning or instinctively know, but they are hidden from view for the most part. It makes me miss when they were babies, just as I miss my own babies now off in their own worlds, on the run, out of reach and sight. Does ‘longing’ for something, someone, someplace, the next season, the chance to fly…change…ever go away? Is there ever a season of pure contentment and comfort? Awww…perhaps the season of love only holds that promise.

Summer is widdling down and I haven’t accomplished half of what I thought I would get done. I wonder if the ducks feel the same way as they sit perched on the rocks in the golden light of dusk, or as they bob and dally in the pond that smells of themselves? Like me, are they waiting for the fresh wind of a new idea to motivate their next move? It will be the school bell tolling that moves me from point A to B, I’m afraid, and the busy commericial world of “back to school’ advertisements that screams at me, “Your summer is over!! Too bad for you that you didn’t use it well! Back to work, honey!” ~No fresh winds of change will blow until late September maybe October, and most likely when I am buckled down in small reading groups and hours of documentation, the ducklings will hear the call, be filled with the spirit of flight, and we’ll come home to an empty yard. I hope not, for just like ceremoniously sending a child off to college or walking a daughter down the aisle, I would like to see them leave and wave  a wishful goodbye.

We’ll have our yard back, but it’ll be different. The dog will be happy, roaming the yard and rolling in the remnants of what the ducks leave behind. Yuck! Not looking forward to that! But we’ll feel a loss, I’m sure, not unlike a mother, as she packs the toys and souveniors of a childhood now outgrown when the children have flown,  leaving behind a quiet house but an emptiness that is deafening. Always life is a trade off. For now it’s the stink and heat, but we’ve had these little fuzzy wuzzies to watch and wonder at. Tomorrow, well, who knows what will land on our laps! I know life’s seasons will bring more goodbyes, but perhaps we’ll be graced with something else to marvel at; camera clicking to capture a needed change.

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