Tag Archives: nature

Look! Squirrel! What I learned from a squirrel this morning…

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Look! Squirrel! What I learned from a squirrel this morning…

D2B93767-66F6-42B7-B10E-06E1EB562DABThere was a big, fat, cheeky, cheerful squirrel (as is the case on most days) performing acrobatic stunts and possibly saying “na na nana boo boo!” (in the language of squirrels) as he faced Jane’s wall of glass this morning from his perch atop the vertical slats of the wooden fence.

It was six degrees Fahrenheit. I know this because my Volkswagen told me so as I drove my creaky, holiday-overstuffed body to practice yoga this morning.

These are the mornings I want to stay in bed, to plead the case to myself that if I just stay home from yoga and diet for a few days, I will feel SO MUCH BETTER about going. Because for the past 60 days or so, I have been traveling, drinking, eating sumptuous roasts and the fatted calf and the sacrificial lamb and Burgermeister Meisterburger’s turkey leg…and the cookies. And enough chocolate for an entire neighborhood’s Halloween. And I’ve loved it, but my scale says I’ve loved it ten pounds worth. And my skin is itchy. And my sinuses are sneezy. Even my elbows are fat, or it feels that way. Zippy pants make muffin top, so I had to temporarily abandon them. So I want to hide for a week or two, get myself back in order, and then come out.

If I weren’t teaching yoga now, there’s a decent chance that I would have done just that. But I can’t, because later today, and tomorrow, and going forward, I have a commitment to teach yoga. (I don’t call it a job.) A commitment that I love, and that I live. Because part of the reason I WANT to do it is to share it with others. So, as I always joke to my husband at this time of year, some days my success is that people can come to my yoga class and say, “See? She can do it, and she sure isn’t shaped like a yoga teacher!”

And that’s okay. Because that really IS a success. I’m happy to support that line of thinking.

Back to the squirrel. (“Look! Squirrel!) This morning’s squirrel was fat and sassy, but his (or her) girthy butt was out there, confident as ever. That extra fat, designed to keep him warm and fed during the winter, did not hold him back from leaping with abandon towards a nearby tree branch. It didn’t stop him from balancing and then running on a wood track maybe an inch wide. He didn’t fall, he didn’t balk.

His body didn’t forget what to do. It didn’t lose strength because it had more to carry, it gained it. His power was palpable, the sinew twitching beneath his meaty haunches.

He was also full of joy. Strong and free, season be damned. He was in a good mood.

Sometimes this Tarzan-esque squirrel, or another member of his brood, will taunt us through the window, luring our drishti away to follow his antics, stopping just short of jamming his little squirrel thumbs into his ears and waggling his tongue at us. He is playful but business-like.

If you’re feeling the same way as I am, hesitant to drag your holiday-plumped, pale, wintertime self to do anything physical, come on out.

You’re strong, and your body hasn’t forgotten it. You’re stable, and you will see that you can count on it. You’re flexible, in body AND mind, and that’s what will get you there. And you’re beautiful, which you will realize as soon as you join the rest of us on our mats and see the whole group of us as individual, lovely disasters.

We’re exactly where we need to be.

Have a day! No pressure!!

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Just a paragraph or two from today’s work on NaNoWriMo…

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Just a paragraph or two from today’s work on NaNoWriMo…

Among the petrified plots, we found a few softer, rocky mounds in the grass, some marked and some not very well, and wondered if this was evidence of (relatively) recent burial. That was a haunting possibility, and I’m not ashamed to admit I gave a wider berth to those plots, walked more tenderly on the grass near them. Others, perfect rectangles bordered in stone, bore one headstone for entire families with names and dates listed one by one in chronological order. The names themselves charmed me, intoxicated as I am by all things Irish, and I once again felt like I was in one of my favorite literary works, this time maybe McCourt or James Joyce rather than Maeve Binchy’s kitchens and buses, but I was sobered by the knowledge that these names represented actual people. Characters who had walked this very ground, perhaps. Folks who had stood on the beach I had just left hours before. I don’t know you, but I acknowledge you, I thought. You may have been ornery, artistic, teenaged, or elderly, so I will spend this one moment witnessing that you were a person, completely unknown to me but now connected to me in the fragile, fleeting way in which we are all part of this same family of mankind. On a more intimate level, I take this moment to imagine you alive, because there is a reason God brought me here to this place in particular, to stand over your grave and look upon your name, silently hoping your rest is not simply peaceful, but blissful. Catherine O’Sullivan McKenna, who was preceded in death by her son Mike but not by her daughter Mary. Mary Briget Ferriter, three months old. As if each were alive briefly, standing next to me, I felt an impulse to reach out and bear witness to her life, appreciating the opportunity to have shared in it so many years later, from another dimension.

Surrounding the graves were the crumbling ruins of stone archways, walls, and tiny outbuildings. These were cold, foreboding, but softened by slick moss and ivy growing wildly. Day in and day out they stood sentry, usually with only the departed souls to see the wild yellow spring flowers cropping up in the clefts between weathered stone and any ancient mortar. What pure grace, “generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved” that I was allowed to share this moment with them.

‘Grace’, Komonchak et al (eds), Joseph A (1990). The New Dictionary of Theology. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. p. 437.

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