A Yankee's Musing

Monday, June 25, 2007

Life is good

Life is good. The thundershowers growl and snap, the white pines bend and spin,
as the rain pounds my steel roof. Occasionally dislodged pine cones thump across the metal, and the cabin shutters with each clap of thunder. My camp is no match for its fury. Sometimes it feels as if the force of the wind will lift the camp off the cement blocks. Lightning flashes and lights my way to the porch. I don’t want to miss anything. This is nature at its best.

Life is good. A neighbor who is like a brother stopped by. “Just wanted you to know it was me who drove in just now. Came to pick up my kayak, and then head back out to the shop. Douglas and I are going to try to get out in the ocean tomorrow if the storm subsides.” I recognized the sound of his van when he zoomed past on the rotten rock road, but I was glad he stopped in anyway. His quick visit reminds me how lucky I am to have him, and his wife, in my life. “Did you make it kayaking today?” he asks. I tell him no because of the impending nasty storms. “But I’m going to Maine Thursday and the kayak is coming with me.” He smiles, “Good.” And it is.

Life is good. When I went to town to do my telecommuting for my job, there was a note from a friend in the city---another “brother.” I resent how much it costs me to use the computers in town, but not to answer the email. It is always challenging to sift through the garbage, pass some on to another staff, answer others right away, and spend time on some of the thoughtful communications. It is always a grab bag; I wonder what I did without it. Snail mail is not immediate and often unsatisfying. Then I think of the few letters I do get via snail mail, and they are special---thought out, developed, and almost always earn a reread or two. Guess both email and snail mail has its place in my life. I do love words that signify more. Check out the white space in this blog and imagine what really lies there.

Life is good. It is also unpredictable. I have two bears now. The little guy from two summers ago, and he isn’t so little anymore, brought a friend. The friend is big, very big, with a think, shiny ebony coat. I think this beauty is a female, perhaps the one from the end of last summer. She remembers me and scoots for the woods when I speak, but not on a run, just a slow gait occasionally looking back. Little guy is frisky with this big one around. He rushes to my back door, presses his nose against the screen, and makes a huff noise. Shadow my cat was sitting there, but at the sound, spins, collides with the door, and rushes off the screened in porch to the kitchen. The bear runs the other way. Then the bear spots a pot of flowers covered with a dish towel. I had gone out earlier this evening to cover them all because of the impending frost tonight. Little bear knocks the pot over and pulls the towel off, noses the upside down plants, and sits down. I think he had suspected, wrongly, that food might lie underneath. Now he starts for another pot. I tell him no. He stops, sits, and looks at me. Those eyes, I can’t resist them, never could since I met this bear three summers ago. I toss him an apple. He catches it, lies down, and eats it slowly as if savoring each bite. When he finishes, he leaves.

Life is good, but sometimes it is too good. Both bears are back. The big one keeps nudging little guy back into the woods, then returns looking around my yard. There are no seeds left and the ravens took their bread this morning. No bear pickings and I guess they are going to check it out one more time. Little guy starts toward the door, and the big one literally pushes him back to the woods. This is comical. Finally the big one checks everything out, then goes into the woods. Little guy bounds out and looks around. Then he comes to my door. He sits. I tell him to go. He goes to the nearest covered flower pot and pulls the towel off. I tell him no. He returns to the door and sits. I tell him to go. He comes closer instead. Oh, oh. He clearly thinks will get an apple for this behavior. After all, he trained me to do it an hour or so ago. Darn it. I screwed up. Never should have given him any food and now I have created a problem. I yell at him, ring a cow bell, but he comes right to the door and pushes the screen with his head. He is telling me he will not take no for an answer. I spray the screen with Shout cleaner. It stinks and I think he will go. He gets irritated now and is just as stubborn as I am. This is not a healthy stand off. I get my whistle and blow it. The more I blow, the more he backs off. When I stop, he crouches down and starts forward. Oh, oh. He is determined and pissed. I blow the whistle in short blasts and yell. He leaves. Thank goodness. I close the inner door so if he returns to the screen door and decides to remove it, there will be a solid door waiting for him. This is my fault. I should never have given him an apple. He is confused with my erratic behavior. He sees me as a companion, and now a food source that may or may not come through for him. I think the other bear controlling his freedom in his own stomping grounds irritated him, and then I compounded it. Well, clearly no seeds for the birds, no bread for the ravens until these bears move on, and definitely no apples for the bears ever again.

Life is good. Whether I kayak a lake or river in Maine or New Hampshire, or paddle out to an island down Maine, I see wildlife. The birds are nesting now and very protective; they swoop and perform aerobatics in order to divert attention to where the female is keeping potential young warm. And the loons, oh yes, the male and females take turns keeping the eggs warm. The wail to each other, gentling reminding each other that their bond is so very fragile across a lake fraught with danger. When a speed boat approaches, the patrolling loon’s cry is angry and loud, then when not heeded, the loon rises on its back webbed feed and runs across the water flapping frantically and raising his neck high. The boater stops, turns off his engine, and watches the show. The loon quiets and resumes its patrol, occasionally diving for baby bass. In the Atlantic waters surrounding Goat Island, the birds are numerous and it is difficult to name them. Big ducks, little ducks, diving birds, swooping birds, long legged birds, tiny birds, and a multitude of different kinds of gulls are everywhere. It is good to know that at this moment, life goes on within and around these various waterways despite human destruction.


It’s not that I have been remiss about writing, it is because I have been struggling to find a sweet spot in which to rest and recuperate. Somewhere along the line I started to lose myself and go into the “put my head down and forge ahead despite adversity.” I am in the mountains now, and my touchstone here has filled me with a sense of peace. It took time to shake off the things that kept me tossing and turning at night, interrupting any sense of replenishment. I have shaken them loose and recognize them for what they are--- feelings of my self being threatened by an outside force---something that might keep me from my precarious balance I have so carefully created—the ledge of time where I can live, not just exist, between two homes, the city and the mountains. This balance is essential for me, not a luxury. Without it, I can not be healthy.

But I am here now. I cannot worry if this will be snatched from me next year. Right now, I am benefiting from the time to be here. The ravens greeted me with their hungry demands—feed me. A neighbor fed them all winter in my yard, so why should I be any different, they seem to think. When I ignore them, the big male Beauty, perches in the birch tree outside my bedroom window and screeches until I can stand it no more. Talk about a control issue! And “Baby Bear,” who is no baby anymore, showed up the second night for a how do you do. He visited for about an hour, and then he left; I haven’t seen him since. I’m glad he is off doing bear things and not attached to the human world. It is tough enough for him without getting lured into a false sense of safety. And the birds---they are everywhere: rose breasted grosbeaks, several species of hummingbirds, jays, sparrows, titmice, juncos, creepers, starlings, red winged blackbirds, chickadees, purple finches, yellow grosbeaks, and various other winged creatures. I scatter feed out to them in the morning and it is cleaned up long before dusk. The red squirrels and chipmunks get their share. They are not afraid, so I have to be careful not to step on them on my way to the outhouse. When it comes to food, they simply will not move until they are good and ready.

Two young cubs were orphaned this month when a cop shot and killed their mother. He thought the mother had been hit by a car and was injured. When he approached her, she made threatening gestures, so he killed her. Then he heard the crying as the two cubs clambered down the tree and tried to revive her. It had been a nursing tree that she was guarding. Really, you’d think by now people would educate themselves and really look at what is going on, not jump to conclusions. Anyway, thank goodness Ben Kilham now has the two cubs at his place in Lime and he will raise them and when they are ready, get them back into the wild. He is so cool and thank goodness he exists. Makes you see that humans can be humane.

So I am here. I wash myself clean with the silence of the forest. It rejuvenates every pore of my being. I breathe deeply and tread carefully for I know only too well how this life is a privilege, one that I cherish.