|Common loon in early breeding plumage|
Quite a few loons at the Moo this morning, both Common and Pacific. Many of the Commons seem to be getting into the early phases of breeding plumage....in mid-February! Rafts of PALOs were close in to the back of the resort, calling back and forth, feeding, etc. Fun times ahead!The "Moo" is short for Semiamoo Spit, a place where birds congregate in huge numbers. I only know all this because of the information I've gleaned from the group. It's a wonderful way to learn about the myriad variety of birds we are blessed with here. The acronym you might not recognize (PALO) is the shorthand that birders use to describe the species: the first two letters of each part of its name (PAcific LOon).
I got interested in birds when I started feeding them from my front porch here in Bellingham, first with a single feeder and gradually growing to many more, and they came in huge numbers. Goldfinch and chickadees, wrens and nuthatches... and English sparrows, that greedy invasive species that began to come in such numbers that I tried to devise ways to allow the other birds to eat. I hung bags of black nyger seeds, which the sparrows don't eat, and got upside-down feeders that allow those birds that can hang inverted to use (English sparrows were laughable to watch but couldn't make use of them) and that helped some. I also had juncos, grosbeaks, and the occasional flicker show up.
Before long, I was spending way too much on bird seed and having to clean up the mess they made under the feeders two or three times a day. It began to be quite a chore, not to mention that my neighbors were bothered by the detritus. When we moved to another apartment in the same complex, I stopped feeding the birds. It was August when I stopped, so it didn't cause them to lose their food source during the winter months. It was time. I am still captivated by all the birds in the neighborhood, as I have neighbors who feed them, so I continue to enjoy their presence. But nothing like before, and it's just as well.
Maybe one of these days I'll become a birder, equipped with binoculars and expensive camera equipment, stalking the Semiamoo Spit myself. But for now, I seem to have little time or inclination for such an activity. Maybe when I can no longer hike and go for long walks I'll take it up. It's good to know that when one door closes, another might open if I can just find the doorway.
Tomorrow will be the anniversary of my last skydive, speaking of doors closing. I still get notices to attend various skydiving events, and I read them carefully. Not because I'm going, but because I still get a thrill thinking of all those events I attended for decades. I've taken up volunteer activities to replace it, and I don't miss skydiving, even if I still think of it often and study the pictures of formations that pop up on my news feed in Facebook. Many of them are my friends who were skydiving buddies back in the day.
For now, I am enjoying myself in different ways. I've just finished a wonderful book, When Breath Becomes Air, recently published and already a bestseller. That link takes you to another Sunday post that reviews the book. Paul Kalanithi was a young doctor who was diagnosed with lung cancer (he never smoked) and realized that his days were numbered and wanted to write his memoir about what he feels makes life worth living, and this book is the result. I finished reading the book and immediately started reading it again, to make sure I don't miss any of the important messages he imparts. His wife Lucy, also a doctor, finished the book with a very moving epilogue.
The Kalanithis had wanted to have children someday, and when he realized they wouldn't have the chance, they decided to save his sperm before he started treatment for his cancer. The two of them did end up making a beautiful daughter, and she was not even a year old when he died. He wrote a message to her grown-up self that holds the entire beauty of this book in a few words:
When you come to one of the many moments in life where you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.It's partly, I guess, that I am now volunteering to help others write their Advance Directives for Health Care that I think quite a bit about what I've been and done and meant to the world. My own mother went into a coma during her final weeks and we, her children, met in her room (she was in Hospice and at home in her own bed) to discuss how to proceed. She was given a morphine injection every 12 hours and had apparently waited for me to arrive before dying; that very night when I got up to give her the shot (I was sleeping on a cot in her room), she gently slipped away, with us around her to witness the moment. It was very beautiful and makes her passing a serene memory. I can only hope for a similar death.
For now, however, I'm still filled with life and the joy of being able to decide what, among the immense choices I can make, I will do with my day. It's starting out like many Sundays in past years with a post on this blog, familiar surroundings and my partner still sleeping lightly beside me. I'll head to the coffee shop to help a friend finish his Advance Directive over our coffee, discussing his wishes if he were to become unable to make his own decisions. He promised me he would ask his son if he would be his Health Care Agent in that event. John is 76 and in moderately good health. I'll breathe easier once he's finished it. It will be my first finished Advance Directive other than my own.
And the time is coming to bring this post to a close and move into my day. I am hoping that you, my dear reader, will have a wonderful and fulfilling day. Until we meet again next week, be well.