Two nights ago, at 1:26AM, I was awoken by a fox barking in our back yard.I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a fox barking, but it sounds like someone being murdered or worse.It can be a bit unnerving.
Just after ten o’ clock last night, as I was going to pick up my family from the airport upon their return from , I saw an enormous deer in our front yard.It was headed for the same patch of daylilies—some of my favorites—that it has been eating the last several nights just as they are about to bloom.I did chase it, but it was, uh, a little faster than I am.The net effect was probably just to bolster its confidence, so that it came back later to the back yard and picked up eating where it left off.
As we were going to sleep last night, I heard this clanking noise.So I went out on the back deck (the lightning bugs were going full force; they were amazing) and pointed a flash light at the sound.On the top of an aluminum garbage kind in which I keep food for the bird feeders was a little raccoon.The bungee cord that normally holds the can closed was broken, and the raccoon was trying to open the can.He scuttled off for a moment, but as I laid back down I heard him at it again.
People talk about the delicate balance of nature, but I have never found it to be such.Nature is one tough cookie, far more capable than we give her credit for being.Frankly, whether it is in trying to control bugs or weeds, get a few blueberries for myself, or keep all my flowers from being eaten, the battle to cultivate that which would return to its primal state seems to me to be a losing battle!
On Saturday, I had a limited time frame in which to take a walk.It just so happened that this was also the time of a torrential down pour.
I didn’t really mind.Most of the walk I was under trees, though it still didn’t take too long to get soaked to the bone.
And I had good company.Bullfrogs hopping along in ecstasy at the rain after a prolonged dry spell, some of them even singing they were so excited.Numerous turtles—box turtles and painted turtles, mostly—taking advantage of the softened earth to dig hole in which to lay eggs.A huge bird of prey I saw flying out in front of me under the trees that was so large that although I didn’t get a really good look at it, I can only imagine was a Great Horned Owl.The usual deer.
Different people call it different things, but as I walked I felt a very strong sense of what I call (and believe it is) God’s presence and delight. I simply felt overwhelmingly grateful to be a part of it all; it was wonderfully invigorating.
Well, when I got a chance to walk around this morning I saw the deer really tied on the feedbag! No wonder they were making so much noise chewing. They ate tomatoes, fuchsias, impatiens, cosmos, hollyhocks, pentas, more sunflowers, and even a few stalks of Joe-Pye weed.
I've also been watching my red raspberries. Every day I see a couple that are almost ripe and my mouth starts to water. But then when, with great anticipation, I look for them the next day, they are gone. I think its the mockingbirds.
At least the deer don't touch the milkweed, which is in full bloom. I think it is the most fragrant flower I have ever smelled. Maybe that is why it does such a good job of drawing in the butterflies--in the last couple days I've seen monarchs, zebra swallowtails, tiger swallow tails, and black swallowtails, fritillaries, skippers, and more.
Now as it starts to get dark, the lightning bugs are coming out. There are so many around here it looks like the trees are draped with strings upon strings of blinking Christmas lights.
Maybe they are part of the conspiracy, sort of like a huge neon sign:Eat at Rob’s!
Two nights ago I woke up at 2:06AM to the sound of a loud exhalation of breath below my bedroom window.It took a second to orient myself, but then I recognized the sound—a deer snorting in alarm.
I pulled on some shorts and headed out into the yard and sure enough, there were several large deer.They snorted again, bounding away, their raised white tails like erratic ghosts leaping about the night.In the morning I would discover they ate sunflowers, day lilies, and black eyed susans (though strangely leaving the purple coneflowers untouched).
Last night—well, early this morning—at about 4:29AM, I awoke to the noise of loud crunching below my bedroom window.I listened carefully to be sure of what I was hearing, and sure enough it was the sound of something chewing crisp plants.It was sort of like the sound of a person chewing celery sticks or maybe cucumbers or carrots.
So I got up again and headed out on the back porch, and sure enough the deer were back.I guess I’ll go down now and see what they ate last night.
On the plus side, we finally got rain, which we really, really needed.A big and beautiful thunderstorm blew in about 11:30 last night.And did I mention it cooled down the house?
One of my core values is simplicity.I don’t always live in harmony with it, to be sure, and sometimes my desires aren’t well aligned with it either.Like the proverbial Corvette I’ve lusted after for years, and that if I inherited a small fortune from an unknown relative I’d still probably buy.
Still, when I do live simply it usually feels pretty good—better, in fact, than actually pursuing desires to the contrary.A big part of that is that living simply brings such freedom to my life.Not needing much frees me from all kinds of obligations, like all the things that are inherent in having to make a certain amount of money or carry a certain amount of debt to maintain a certain lifestyle.Besides, if a person isn’t satisfied with what they have, they won’t be satisfied with having more.
Another core value is generosity, and simplicity facilitates that.I’ve seen so much need in my life that it has changed me.It’s hard to enjoy having so much more than I really need when I know so many people don’t even have life’s basics.
Someday, perhaps, when my kids have graduated from college and are on their own, Linda and I will move to a simple little house (what they now call “microhouses”) of maybe 1200 square feet.Sounds extreme I know, but when it comes right down to it, study after study shows people only really live in about 1000-1500 feet of their house, no matter what the actual size.
For now, with my wife and kids away in CA, my experiment in living simply in having the AC off at home.I shut all the windows and close all the blinds and drapes in the morning when I leave for work to keep the cool air in, and then open them up at night when I get home.Because the nights have still been dropping into the mid to low 60s, it hasn’t been at all unpleasant.
Still, with today being in the mid to upper 90s, we’ll see how it goes.Good thing we have a basement!
Perhaps you know that the governing body of the Episcopal Church, called General Convention, is meeting in Columbus, Ohio, as it has been since June 13th.
There are some huge issues before us, and I have to imagine that because there are such strong feelings on every side of the issue, tackling them must be painful for everybody. Anything construed as a victory from one viewpoint will come at a great cost to another.
There are some who are being exceedingly gracious, and I thank God for them. But there are others, again on all sides of the issues, who call to mind an old song by Three Dog Night. I can only conclude it is because they are in such pain themselves that they are so oblivious to the pain they are causing others.
Anyway, here is the song. It's originally from Hair, I think.
Easy to Be Hard
How can people be so heartless How can people be so cruel Easy to be hard Easy to be cold
How can people have no feelings How can they ignore their friends Easy to be proud Easy to say no
And especially people Who care about strangers Who care about evil And social injustice Do you only Care about the bleeding crowd? How about a needing friend? I need a friend
How can people be so heartless You know I'm hung up on you Easy to be proud Easy to say no
And especially people Who care about strangers Who say they care about evil and social injustice Do you only Care about the bleeding crowd How about a needing friend? Oh need a friend
How can people be so heartless How can people be so cruel Easy to be proud Easy to say no Easy to be cold Easy to say no C'mon Easy to give in Easy to say no Easy to be cold Easy to say no Easy to say no
Having not blogged much lately, “not blogging”is getting easier and easier.Initially, I’d think to myself, “I should write about this” or “I should write about that.”But now I think less and less about blogging in the first place.
And when I do think about blogging now, I think “I should just take the summer off.”If I do, when fall comes I’ll probably think, “You know, I should just take the fall off.”And so it goes.
I guess this is how people quit going to church, huh?
Perhaps you are familiar with a concept called “framing”.Basically, it refers to the context in which we view facts, experiences, and relationships.The context, then, is much like a picture frame in which we place the various aspects of our lives.
I’ve been thinking about this in relation to the fishing aspect of my trip to Florida. There are a several ways to “frame” it.One could say that even if the catching was off, the fishing was still great (though I don’t think that is something true fishermen tend to say).Or that though these were some off days, there have also been exceptional days that balance things out.Or, as I wrote in my last post, that although the fishing was a bust the visiting was excellent (and it was).
In general, I think people do better in life when they can find ways to frame things positively.In fact, in Marcus Buckingham’s book, The One Thing You Need to Know, he pretty much says that the one thing you need to know to have a successful marriage is:Believe the best of your spouse (and he gives plenty of statistics to back this statement up).Even when there are a variety of ways to frame things, choose the one that portrays your spouse in the best light.
So, I choose to view this trip as having not been about fishing, but about people.
Still, when all is said and done, I have to admit it was pretty disappointing.
And that seems like an important part of life as well—admitting to ourselves our disappointments and, when there’s nothing we can do about them, learning to live with them and move on.
I’m finally getting caught up from being away last week, and so have a moment to blog.
My fishing trip was a complete and total bust.I don’t think anything went as I had planned.
Tuesday (when I arrived) the friend I was to fish with had to go out of town on business (it was a big deal and actually very exciting, so I’m happy for him).Wednesday the weather was bad so our trip off shore was scrubbed.
Thursday we did fish for tarpon, but only for three hours and not the day as I expected.We also took four people, which meant I spent the whole trip watching two other people land fish.Tarpon are big fish—well over 100 pounds.That means it takes a long time to reel them in—often over an hour.So, if four people are going fishing for only three hours it’s a safe prediction not everyone will catch fish.
I don’t begrudge any one else catching a fish, and I’m not complaining about that aspect of the trip.It’s just that after going all those miles and spending all that money, I would’ve set the trip up differently to ensure success—either more hours on the water or less guys in the boat.Oh well.
Friday my car broke down on the way from Sarasota to Ormond Beach and so spent the day in a repair shop outside Lakeland instead of fishing.And did I mention I lost my wallet?By the end, it was almost (almost!) comical.
Still, if the fishing was a bust, the visiting was great.I got to see more people this way and spend more time with them.Looking at how well they are doing in their lives—and particularly in their spiritual lives and relationships—made me think hard about my own life, about things I could and probably should be doing differently.
Mostly, though, it was just a joy to be with them.And really, if we are talking joy and memory, there is more of that in being with dear friends than catching big fish.Still, I wouldn’t have minded doing both!