26 aug 10 rainy days, mondays, bad haircuts

Zen lesson for the day: Don't let 'em get you down

and a fashion tip: if a bandana makes you feel better, wear it

20 aug 10 birds of all feathers

Summer has been making an appearance as this week ends. This morning the sun was out, the clouds were gone, and the birds were more active than I've seen in two months. The residents - nuthatches, chickadees, and junkies - were on the deck eating the birch seeds that recent strong winds dropped there. Robins were flying in groups between the birch and spruce trees, which is sadly a sign that they're getting ready to head south.

Mid-morning I was working at the desk in the loft when I heard a loud thump on a living room window. Last week a young robin died there and I was hoping that I could help another bird make it to the migration. On the deck a young female blackpoll warbler sat in a daze. I held her in my hands to keep her warm. I couldn't see any visible signs of injury. After a little while I placed her on the picnic table to see if she'd fly off. She didn't. So I made her a little nest of napkins and towels in a yogurt container and left her on the table. I looked out often, hopeful that she had flown off. Eventually I went back to work and hoped for the best.

Not too much later I saw two neighborhood dogs sniffing at the table. I ran downstairs and chased them off. The little warbler was still in the container. As I pulled back the napkin that was partially over the container, she flew off.

The predators were as active as the birds. A little later I noticed a flash of white outside. The neighbor's cat was stalking a young robin. I cranked open the window and both of them scattered.

Despite the drama of prey and predator, life and death, the reminder that we are in the season of birth and growth, the height of life, was refreshing after these weeks of rain.

11 aug 10 soggy zen

I feel like I haven't done anything but whine about the weather since we returned from a soggy week in Prince William Sound to the soggy summer in Anchorage on Saturday evening.* So I won't dwell on the dominant weather that we had in the Sound last week.

I'm trying to focus on how this is the first summer in a long time that I actually sit around reading. Earlier this summer I complained to a friend back East about the flurry of summer reading lists that pop up everywhere in June and how Alaskans were too busy making the most of every minute of sunshine to sit around reading. Winter is for reading. My remarks were possibly a bit insensitive because she was laid up with a broken ankle. I hoped that she was enjoying the opportunity to read and relax during the warm days. I wanted to know what she was reading for my own winter book list.

Then came our time in Prince William Sound - a week last month and a week this month. The weather was less than inspiring for exploring by either boat or foot most of the time, but perfect for snuggling in with a hot beverage and a good novel. This approach to a vacation, unusual for me, certainly leads to a relaxed state.

Paul commented on how the week had a Zen quality -- from the quiet mornings of reading (including a book on Zen) and doing Sudoku and crosswords to the chance to mindfully carry out chores and meal preparations. Even the landscape looked like an Asian painting with mists defining successive ridges and mountains.
Once again it seems that the trick is to bring that calm, relaxed state of the retreat back to the everyday world.

* And it's official - the National Weather Service says that we're setting records for cool, wet, and cloudy. And it has rained every day since this article was in the paper.

** I've added some more photos with captions to the gallery.