I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A change in the weather

I pass the ivy growing on the side of this building every day when I walk from the gym to the bus. Even when the sun isn't shining, the color is intense right now. I've taken pictures of its brilliant color before, but this year it seems especially red. The skies are dark, spitting rain, and the wind is blowing. Our long stretch of beautiful weather has come to an end. Now that I don't have a cold and could go skydiving, the weather is not cooperating. I'm just not ready to say that the skydiving season is over, but it probably is.

Last night I kept thinking about a video I watched yesterday. It is from the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, about a bunch of ducks mistreated by their owner and rescued by the sanctuary. They were all adult ducks and had never been in water before. It's less than two minutes long, and I've now watched it several times, each time with feelings I can't quite identify. (You might want to make it full screen since I can't seem to figure out how to get it to fit into my existing column. The sound is nice but not necessary.)

The birds were terrified of the water and had to be reintroduced to it several times, until finally one of them realized that it was, well, fun. Before long all of them had taken to the water and were enjoying themselves immensely. It made me realize that all creatures know little of life except what we experience at birth. How would a duck know that it belongs in water if it never is around it? How would any of us know how wonderful life could be if we are mistreated when we are born? That is all we know, and that's what we expect as we go through our days.

I guess that's what the feeling is: a mixed one of sadness that some of us are not given our birthright, and gratitude that there are people like those at the sanctuary who help creatures to have a better life. Adding value to any life is worthwhile, and it makes me hopeful that we humans will one day tip the scales towards compassion rather than neglect. I realize that this might be a bit of a pollyanna point of view, but it's the one I choose. I'd like to think that we are evolving towards kindness and the comprehension that we are all in this together.

Although it's dreary outside, I'm enjoying the change in the weather. I have a warm safe apartment to share with my partner, and we can stand inside and watch the trees bend in the wind and listen to the rain. I don't need to go out in it until I have girded myself with appropriate gear. It's hard to believe that only a few days ago I was in full sunshine in the High Country with my friends, sweating and slathering on sunscreen. Yesterday I pulled my expensive eVent raincoat out of the closet and used it for the first time in months. It will get a workout for awhile now.

I have looked at the long-range weather forecasts, however, and I have learned that we are expected to get a bit less rain here in the Pacific Northwest than usual. For the past two winters, we've been inundated with higher-than-normal snowpack, so it might make for a nice change. In fact, I might even get to skydive this winter, if the weather cooperates at all. The only thing I need is sunshine, even if it's cold. You go up in the plane and jump out, having only a few minutes to deal with the cold. In Colorado where the sun shines most days, I jumped year round; any time it was above freezing on the ground you would see crazy skydivers loading the plane, swaddled in enough clothes under their jumpsuits to look like overstuffed teddy bears. I was one of them.

Now that I'm thinking of it, I remember one day when we had a heavy snowfall all day long on Saturday, nice fluffy Colorado powder. On Sunday morning I woke to see that the sky was completely blue! I packed up my stuff and headed to the Drop Zone, knowing that there would be others who would want to jump, once they cleared the runway. And sure enough, I made three or four skydives that day, landing in soft powder snow. It looked odd to see steps in the snow that seemed to start from nowhere heading to the hangar. I suppose I wouldn't do that again today, since I have so many more skydives now than I did then. But then again, I also know now what I might miss out on!

One thing that we can all count on: whatever weather we are having right now will change. Every season is ostensibly only three months long, and the years flow by, giving us everything from rain and snow to brilliant blue skies. I wish you many days of whatever weather makes you happiest, with just a little bit of the other kind to remind you how nice it is when you have your favorite weather.


Teresa Evangeline said...

I had not seen that video. What a wonderful post! Contentment with life is here, in every word.

Rubye Jack said...

You sound really happy and content with life today DJan.
I too think people who were abused early on can learn to survive and even prosper if connected to caring people later in life.


Great post. Cannot think of wildlife being mistreated in any way.
We have deer passing through the edge of our property and I can't imagine shooting them as so many around here do.
Life has been crazy for me lately with health issues. Good to read this post which is so up and hear of the things you are doing. Oh, to be able to sky dive. Bliss.
Blessings, Barb in Ohio

Linda Reeder said...

After watching the video, which I loved, the word that comes to mind is 'opportunity'. I hear this word often from President Obama. It's not about "giving" every young person the same things, but about making sure they have the opportunity to be all they can be. An enclosed, earthbound duck cannot spread its wings and find water.
I just looked at the weather map on Weather Underground. It looks like you will be getting the brunt of the storm that is passing through today. We have just a quarter of an inch of rain out of this system so far, and it looks like most of this wave will miss us too. We need rain!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful, joyful video! I loved it! Remember that phrase: "...like a duck takes to water"? I bet they never wanted to leave.

We all have our comfort zone. For me, skydiving, bungee jumping, and ziplines are things I have no desire to try. But, they are on hubby's bucket list. He said so just last night.

Linda Myers said...

DJan, I love the video. For me, those ducks knew just what to do when given the opportunity - once they got over their initial hesitation.

Last night I could hear the rain on the roof. A nice sound, for a change.

CrazyCris said...

Gorgeous photo at the top DJan, I really miss those Fall colours here in Alicante! But then I shouldn't complain, I enjoy our deep blues...

Nothing wrong with being a Pollyanna! I try to be one myself (doesn't always work, but I try!) and my hope for the future is one where humanity has finally overcome greed and wars and poverty... Cheers to that future!

Mel said...

Lovely photo and wonderful video clip. It made me happy to see the ducks discover the joy of water.

What a striking visual, you skydiving into new snow, footprints mysteriously appearing out of thin air!

I'm sitting on the floor in front of a window watching the wind blow gently in the rain through fall leaves. It's almost perfect, except for how hard it will be for my joints to work when I get up!

Thanks for another wonderful post today.

Sally Wessely said...

This video puts an entirely new slant on the idiom "To take like a duck to water." I loved watching how the ducks had to be introduced to something that is such a part of their nature.

You have me thinking about how our experiences can either limit us or expand our take on life. As always, you inspire.

Rita said...

Once they got over their fear, you could almost feel their joy! People are also afraid of the unknown. That was a reminder to take a leap once in a while. Well, maybe not out of a plane for me, but you know what I mean--LOL! ;)

Red said...

I think we have many people who help us along the way and make us what we are. Very sad that some people can be so negative and destructive to another creature.

#1Nana said...

This afternoon I picked the last strawberries in the garden...a final taste of summer. I'm not looking forward to winter. I guess I need to get out my cold weather jackets too.

You really created a mood in this reflective piece. As always, you've got me thinking.

CiCi said...

Well said. The seasons change and we must deal with the ones we don't care for as much. Your attitude of positive approach is catchy. Another great post.

Friko said...

I've seen the video, it is too funny. I think ducks - like most non-human creatures - know instinctively what their proper environment is; once one duck showed the others, they all had a go. Happily and quickly.

I am glad you are having it all your own way - weather wise - at the moment; long may it last. Thank you for your good wishes, I fervently hope that they come true for us here; we can look forward to lots of dark grey skies from now on. Not that it's been any different all summer.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Great video..poor ducks. How could anyone raise ducks and not have water for them..a pool..something. They were obviously idiots. Just the though makes my blood boil:(

Sandi said...

What a great video DJan! Loved watching those ducks enjoying themselves so much.

I found myself looking forward to the first fat drops of rain. We had taken a walk, seeing if we could beat the rain, and it didn't start dropping until we were two houses away. I liked watching the rain from my chair in the living room. I love how it freshens the air.

I also know I'll probably get pretty sick of it over the next several months! :)

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thank you for your ending wish for all of us. I so like autumn. But then winter is lovely also. And then spring has that wonderful smell of newness. But the beauty of summer somehow eludes me.

Thank you also for posting the video of the ducks who have now entered their milieu. Your musings after the video spoke so forcefully to me. Especially these words: "Adding value to any life is worthwhile, and it makes me hopeful that we humans will one day tip the scales towards compassion rather than neglect. . . . I'd like to think that we are evolving towards kindness and the comprehension that we are all in this together." I'd like to think that also. Peace.

Trish said...

Opportunity: it's such a powerful word. Great story about the ducks!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

You are pondering about all the things that that have me wondering too. But my biggest concern is more about Buddy's life after we are no longer able to share our time to ether.
His life has sent ours in directions we could never have imagined. It has made us strive to be better than we thought we could be and we still carry on that task.
No drooping from planes or climbing mountains, just over coming medical issues to ensure we live as long as we possibly can.
By the way I'm impressed that you have time to write such detailed long posts and still visit and read others. I'm finding it harder and my eyes seem to hinder that but not my determination.