Day 18: the quiet of still

heron

 

I’ve changed my routine of late, rising before the sun for some peaceful writing time before the day’s demands overtake me. It surprises me how much I love this change in my life. I am a more productive writer, yes. But there’s also a great gift in watching the world quite literally come to life.

Just the other day I was in my studio downstairs as dawn came to Bickley’s Pond. One of our resident herons was there, too, and as I sat at my little window desk I was mesmerized watching the bird so calmly greet the day. It reminded me how beautiful it can be to simply stand still, eyes wide open, patiently watching and waiting as the world circles busily around you.

 

 

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

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Day 17: Sweet, Slow Summertime

 

will and cat FB
William and me, circa 1965

 

It may seem an impossible thing to name your favorite photograph of all time. But not so for me. This shot is hands down the one I choose, a single Polaroid moment that represents so many days I spent with my little brother, William, when our family lived in a simple little house in Gay Dawn Acres, plastic on the lampshades and Country Squire in the driveway. Glass bottles of milk were left at the front door by the milkman, and if Mom wanted a loaf fresh white bread, we simply needed flag the Bunny Bread truck as it passed down our quiet street. On special occasion afternoons we’d walk to Spradlin’s store for penny candy–a distance of, it seemed, a thousand miles. And we road bikes. For hours and hours and hours, we rode our bikes.

They are memories of summer slow and sweet, nothing but time on our hands and the invention of fun our greatest obligation.

~~~~

Just last night my dear friend, Teresa, came over for an emergency viewing of the movie that happens to be her all-time favorite, To Kill A Mockingbird. The previous night she’d discovered I’ve never seen it (at least not since the 1960s) and she rightfully insisted we correct that wrong swiftly and decisively. I’m sure I don’t even have to mention how much I loved the film, I mean, Gregory Peck. But of all that moved me in this gorgeous Harper Lee story, there was a line that laid out right over my heart and has reclined there since, hanging on like the smell of oleander in the summertime:

A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.

 

Watching Scout swing from a tree in the big round tire and Jen lounge like a lazy lizard on the fence railing and Dill pass the time making up superlatives to add height to his small stature–all of these reminded me of the long ago summer days my brother and I did little more than hang around, making fun from nothing, sporting our bathing suits as if any minute we planned to head to the back yard for a swim in a cool, wet pool that never, ever existed.

It was such a happy childhood.

How lucky we were.

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

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Day 16: Eyes Wide Open

I regularly run into people who comment about something they’ve read on The Daily Grace, and it surprises me every time. It’s silly, of course–this is a published blog and the analytics show me just how many people are reading and what posts strike their fancy. But numbers are not my motivation, and so it’s something I rarely think about when I write. Instead, I get a thought in my head–something that lands there and hangs a while, rather than passing through–and when it doesn’t let go, I sit down to write about it, to discover what it’s here to teach me, how I feel about the thing.

This is not a novel concept. Joan Didion said:

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.

Yes.  Exactly.

Nevertheless, a kind mention about something you’ve read here means a great deal to me. And you folks are so generous.

~~~~~~

A couple of weeks ago a friend from college left this sweetness for me:

Cathy…I was thinking of your 30 days of fun yesterday when I spied this beautiful orange and pink zinnia by our pool. It has orange petals that turn hot pink before they end in the yellow center. As I leisurely swam my laps I reminded myself of some of your blogs and to start looking for things that make me smile.  Low and behold, a spirited hummingbird stopped by the same flower! I left the pool light-hearted and grinning.

Thank you!
Betsy M.
I asked Betsy if she’d allow me to share her photo with you here, and I’m so happy she agreed.

 

zinnia2
Magnificat

 

I think Betsy’s zinnia is the perfect reminder God has filled the world with beauty–sometimes small, sometimes grand–and always worthy of notice. All He asks is that we take a tiny moment to acknowledge its glory and the awe of it will move through your body tips to toes, sweet and slow, like a cold sip of lemonade on a hot summer day.

It also served as the perfect reminder for me (thank you, Betsy) that we are all here together sharing this journey, lifting each other up, cheering each other on, from time to time reminding one another to smile and sing and laugh and play and just enjoy the ride.

 

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

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Day 15: I think it’s love.

We had a puppy play date!

IMG_8476
little bit says hello (sort of)

 

eliza says hello!
eliza says hello!

 

IMG_8521
bailey likes it here

 

IMG_8526
can we just keep her?

 

I think it's love.
puppy love

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

Want updates? Yay!


 

Day 14: Just ’cause.

Today I wore my hair curly. I thought that might be fun.

 

IMG_8458 - Version 2

 

I was right!
 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

Want updates? Yay!


 

Day 13: Hey Mom! Watch me!

Is there anything more fun than celebrating the end of summer (and the start of kindergarten) by jumping off the diving board for the very first time?

Yay, Andrew!!!

 

(Thanks to his proud Mom, my friend Catherine, for allowing me to share the moment with you here.)

 

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

Want updates? Yay!


 

Day 12: the heart ache and heart joy of mothering

The bluebird parents and I have had a time together the past two summers doing our best to successfully nest, then fledge, our babies. It’s a saga you know if you are a regular reader of The Daily Grace, but for those are new or who drop by occasionally, it’s gone something like this.

SPRING 2014  I purchase a decorative birdfeeder as a decoration for a party. I place it on a small metal table on our walkout porch. Before I realize what’s happened, a sweet bluebird couple has made a nest and laid five perfect blue eggs!

 

so far, so good

 

I fret and fret and fret over that nest and sure enough, five babies emerge.

While we’re on vacation, the unsecured decorative nest box is attacked and I find it on the ground, only three babies still alive. We get it set back up and the parents swoop in knowing just what to do.

 

twomouths

 

The remaining babies survive and eventually fledge!

 

baby2
Remember Harry?

 

NEST #1: (Mostly) Successful. (Yay!)

SUMMER 2014  I buy a new nest box, a real one, and mount it to a brick column just a few feet from the old one.

 

facedown

 

I feel good about its security in this location, but it is SO DANG HOT I don’t know how a Mama could survive in there, much less eggs or babies. Nevertheless the cute couple builds away. She lays four eggs, incubates them for five horrifically hot days, then flies away and abandons them.

I am heartbroken even though I know she knows best.

NEST #2: Fail.

SPRING 2015  THEY BUILD ANOTHER NEST (!) in the next box on the brick column. She lays five eggs.

 

nest

 

After several days, she abandons them.

Again, I am heartbroken. Is something wrong? Is there something I should do??? Reason prevails and I leave the nest and the eggs alone. The bluebirds return several days later and build a new nest ON TOP OF THE OLD NEST AND THE ABANDONED EGGS. (I later discover she has put a layer of feathers between the old eggs and the new nest. Don’t you love that?)

 

new nest
new nest

 

She lays four more eggs. I FRET AND FRET AND FRET and, as if by miracle, these hatch! We rejoice and obsess, obsess and rejoice. On Day 5 I come for my morning check-in and find three babies are missing and one is still in the nest, dead. WHAT HAPPENED IN THERE? I wonder.

The next day I see this.

 

closeup-snake

 

It turns out snakes have no trouble climbing brick columns. (Seriously?)

NEST #3: Fail.

I (immediately) go to the bird store and buy a metal pole, a snake buffer and a new birdhouse. Sweet Tim (immediately) gets it all set up out in the yard, far away from all brick columns, and while he works I sort of pray they will build again, but I sort of pray they won’t. Because by now it is

SUMMER 2015 and UNBEARABLY HOT AGAIN. In its new location the new birdhouse has no shade at all, and, even worse, is baked by the afternoon sun.

Undaunted, the bluebirds build another nest. Over the course of several scorching late-June days, she lays three eggs.

There is no way this can end well, I think.

And this time, neither she, nor I, will be able to get over it.

 

two

 

I do something crazy. I fashion some top and back shade for the nest box out of white styrofoam, attach it with bungee cords, then erect a giant golf umbrella over the top.

It is ridiculous!

I know this, and I do it anyway.

 

i am the crazy bird lady

 

Sixteen days later, which just happens to be the exact time during which most baby bluebirds fledge, I come home from work to find the nest box empty. I rejoice!

Then I worry.

Maybe a snake got to them. Or the hawks. Maybe they didn’t fledge at all!

More than a month goes by.

 

Just this week I’m standing at the big kitchen window when something catches my eye. It looks to be a bluebird, but it hangs on the side of a branch in a rather inexperienced manner. Could it be one of the babies?

 

IMG_7446

 

Another bluebird baby comes flying in and lands in the bird bath just below. Branch Bird joins in!

 

IMG_7461

 

Baby three arrives!

 

IMG_7473

 

They have the finest time in that water, those babies, splishing and splashing like they’ve never, ever had so much fun.

I have the finest time watching them!

 

IMG_7499

IMG_7502

 

IMG_7504 - Version 2

 

Then they fly away, back to the woods I suppose, where Mama and Daddy are watching and waiting to continue the lessons in flying, landing, hunting for food, eating.

(I have beamed like a proud Mama ever since.)

Nest 4: SUCCESS!!!

 

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

Want updates? Yay!


 

Day 11: Lovelies!

First there was graduation.

eliza grad

Then there was a party. It was filled with Eliza’s lovelies.

girls-1

They’re so fun!

girls 4

girls 3

 

girls-2

 

 

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

Want updates? Yay!


 

Day 10: Desperate Measures

 

We had a whole slew of errands to run.

Errands are not my thing.

Plus,

it was

so hot.

 

This

 

icecream2

made it all better.

 

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

Want updates? Yay!


 

Day 9: Wild Life

It’s one of the best things ever when my trusty iPhone buzzes and I look down to see “Jay Coles” on the incoming call screen.

He’s my dear friend, yes. But in addition to that, he’s Executive Director of Carolina Wildlife Center, an organization here in the Midlands of South Carolina that works tirelessly to care for and rehabilitate orphaned and injured animals. Jay is a committed, passionate leader who always has interesting things going on. When I hear from him, I know it will be good.

“Whatcha doing?” he asks when I hit the hello button.

“On the treadmill,” I huff.

“Wanna go on a release?” he says.

“What kind?” I ask (as if it matters).

There’s a smile in his voice. “Purple Martin,” he says.

Oh yeah.

~~~~~~

A short time later he picks me up and we drive to the end of Old Chapin Road, just where it meets Lake Murray. “Know what that is?” Jay asks, pointing across the water to an island just beyond. “Bomb Island.”

Well, of course. Jay would know to bring the bird to this spot where, released to the wild for the first time after months of rehabilitation, it might just find a flock. A half million Purple Martins roost on Bomb Island for a few weeks in late summer, you see. So any minute now thousands of them will come flying across the water. Jay supposes that if we let our little guy go, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll find his way across the lake to join the others.

“Ready?” he says to me and I feel as nervous and giddy as if it were my maiden flight. “Let’s do it,” I say.

Jay gently lifts the top from the container. I look in, and sure enough, there he is.

 

Um. Hello?
Um. Hello?

 

You want me to do what?
You want me to do what?

 

I'm not so sure that's a good idea.
I’m not so sure about this.

 

release
Well, okay then!

 

Which way do I go?
Which way do I go?

 

Oh. There they are!
Oh. There they are!

 

I'm coming!
I’m coming!

 

 

If you’d like to learn more about Carolina Wildlife Center and their important work, click here. It’s a nonprofit I love and one that is significantly underfunded. With no state or federal money, CWC treats more than 3500 orphaned and injured animals a year, responds to more than 10,000 hotline questions, and presents animal and conservation education to thousands of children and adults–with many, many hours donated by dedicated volunteers and insufficiently funded staff. (So much of the donated money must go to supplies for the animals.) Needless to say, they are grateful for $$ donations of any size! They particularly love Sustaining Donors who give $10, $20 or $50 a month. More info can be found here. Also, follow Carolina Wildlife Center on Facebook. No matter where you live in the world, you’ll be delighted to see the precious animal photos and videos that will roll through your feed!

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

Want updates? Yay!