A Little Exposure

I love to work on my blog posts in secret but when I publish them I usually feel exposed.  It has taken me a while to put my inner experience out where people can see it, and I admit that it can be a little frightening.

I have some ways to help myself.  I tell myself my fears are irrelevant.  I also have a personal “dementor”, a wraith-like creature from the Harry Potter movies.  He's a little Lego figure less than an inch high.  I let him hurl his opinions in his tiny, squeaky voice.  I also ask my husband to tell me again that he still likes the blog, and he does.  He reads it every time and he clicks the little heart icon, which makes a “like”, which is good for our relationship.  I sit myself down with encouraging words as if I’m speaking to a 7th grader, which is about the grade I’m in when I’m having these feelings.  But none of that worked this last time.  There was nothing I could do but live through my feelings, stand next to them, give myself, to the best of my ability, some sympathetic friendship.  So then I felt some things I try hard not to feel, with more painful memories emerging as the day went on.

Friends stopped by.  Gabby brought six of the most beautiful blue eggs, laid by her father’s chickens.  Chris came to show me his new pictures of a snowy owl.  He’d also gone clamming and he brought me a dozen. 

I remembered what my cousin Liz said the last time we talked: “There are both constructive and destructive forces."  And I started to think about my songbirds - how they like to stay in the thicket where the hawks and owls can’t reach them and how they also come out to the feeder.  How they go back and forth between safety and danger, how they choose their degree of exposure.

I thought, “We all have to be who we are.”  And I remembered what some of us have gone through to do so.  And then I thought, “We live on more than safety.”  Then I felt we are all plants growing through stones and earth - unstoppably growing through all the risks and dangers, whether they’re real or re-lived or imagined.  And then I thought, “We can help each other better because of it.”  And then I thought that none of this would happen if the purpose of life was to have an easy time.

Then Edie called and Chris called to tell me their snowy owl was back and perching near their houses. So I went and Chris was working in his driveway.  Now Chris grew up on Block Island.  His long years of living here and his family legacy of farmers, hunters and fishermen, and his personality in general, have given him an intelligent…and heart-felt… and careful…and perceptive…and responsible…and uncanny…and effective relationship with nature.  He can find Indian arrowheads on a stony beach.  Do you know what arrowheads look like on a stony beach?  They look like stones.  I’ve tried to find them.  It’s impossible. 

He stopped me.  He pointed out the owl.  He said, “Be careful or he’ll fly.  Park here, not there.  You can get out of the car; you can step over the stone wall, there.  Walk slowly and quietly.”  He answered my question, “Yes, you can keep your yellow raincoat on.  He’s colorblind.”  He said, “Do you see he’s young?  He still has his juvenile feathers.  Do you see the feathers that cover his beak to keep it warm?  Do you see him preening and fluffing to trap the air?  He’s flown from the Arctic Circle.  He’s perfectly made for the cold.”  He motioned with his hand…”If you step over that line, he’ll fly.”  So I knew an expert when I saw one and I did as he advised and everything happened exactly as he said.

So I got my first pictures of a snowy owl.  I went over to Chris.   I said, “That was wonderful.”  He said, “I’m glad you got your pictures.”  Then I drove to the dump beach on the west side of the island, and on the way I realized that things had changed…that I was feeling deeply happy.  I walked with the dogs to North Light, stopping to visit my secret dune valleys.  I picked up some beautiful seagull bones and also some sea glass including the first red piece I have ever found in my entire life.   What a good day.

PS:  Marybeth sent me an article about snowy owls.  Here is the link: (http://aeon.co/magazine/nature-and-cosmos/the-snowy-owl-is-a-messenger-from-the-arctic/?utm_source=Aeon+newsletter&utm_campaign=81f5e0df5b-Daily_Newsletter_February_4_20142_4_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_411a82e59d-81f5e0df5b-68638837).

PPS:  My sister Cathy (today is her birthday) has a friend who saves and rehabilitates raptors (owls, hawks, eagles) in Ashford, CT.  Here’s that link as well:  (https://www.facebook.com/horizonwingsraptorrehabilitationandeducation).