Feathered and furry, friends and family

swallow sunset

I imagine that compared to most people, my life seems pretty boring. It’s Friday night and I imagine most people have fun plans to go out with their friends while I’m sitting home writing up a blog before I get back to beading. I say “I imagine” because I don’t really know. What I do know is that I like my life and am pretty darn happy on a daily basis. Do I have my down days? Sure, everyone does but I always find the light eventually and remind myself how blessed I am.

I live in the country hills of Upstate NY. When I look west from my deck I have a lovely view across the valley and surrounding hills. I spend my days writing freelance blog posts for a variety of companies while being kept company by animals. I don’t just mean my dog Jazzmin and two cats Avi and Owl. I mean the birds, bunnies, woodchucks and deer that live around me. When I don’t have my girls, I talk to either myself or the animals. I don’t say a lot out loud really but I’m constantly thinking.

The feathered and furry creatures I watch on my property and near my house on a daily basis are the friends and family I see the most. As I sit at my desk I watch the male and female bluebirds make the rounds around my house going from front wire to side wire, to tree tops and back again getting worms and bugs for their newly hatched babies.

Male bluebird on my pear tree

Male bluebird on my pear tree

Male bluebird on the wire

Male bluebird on the wire

The tree swallows are swooping through the air all day long catching bugs for their babies and sometimes when one of them and the male bluebird sit upon the same wire, a brief and nasty bird fight ensues.

Tree swallow on the wire

Tree swallow on the wire

Swallow on the left, bluebird on the right. Shortly before the ruckus

Swallow on the left, bluebird on the right. Shortly before the ruckus

I hung two hummingbird feeders on the swing outside the window closest to my desk and the adorable swift-winged birds visit several times a day. Even when I’m typing away I hear their approach, their wings buzzing in a sound like an oversize bumblebee. I then stop my work and turn to watch one of them as he sips.

I have at least two ruby-throated hummingbirds and while they never drink at the same time, they visited today at the same time. One waited on the wire while the other drank.

One hummingbird on my swing frame, the other waiting on the wire

One hummingbird on my swing frame, the other waiting on the wire

I think they’re both males because they sometimes take off in furious flights, their long beaks reminiscent of swords and their face-offs reminding me of the beginning of fencing matches. One or both of them is even brave enough to visit the feeder when I’m standing out on the deck. I never knew they made little squeaking chirping noises until I was able to be this close to them. They truly are amazing creatures!

Hummingbird perched on my feeder

Hummingbird perched on my feeder

Hummingbird drinking

Hummingbird drinking

Hummingbird flying

Hummingbird flying

Hummingbird on the wire

Hummingbird on the wire

In the evening, I often see a bunny or two hopping around the yard. Yesterday a baby bunny hopped out from behind my shed and did some awkward hops before bravely venturing out further into the grass.

Resident bunny

Resident bunny

Another resident bunny

Another resident bunny

Babies are being born and hatching all around my property and I can hear the baby bluebirds chirping in the birdhouse at the back of my property all the way from my kitchen window. After dinner tonight I watched a mother robin and her baby hop around my back yard, the baby chirping as it followed its mother around and eagerly accepting the worms she yanked out of the ground for him.

Mama robin and her fledgling

Mama robin and her fledgling

This afternoon on my way into town, I saw two small brown animals playing around the yellow line in the road in front of me. As I drove closer, I realized they were baby woodchucks/groundhogs. There was no one else on the road so I stopped my car, put on my flashers and got out to shoo the little rascals out of the road. They didn’t move quickly but they did eventually get over into the grassy shoulder. When I tried to shoo them further into the tall grass, one of them actually ventured closer to me and I said to him “I’m not your mama, baby. Go find your mama.” I do wonder where their mother was…

The baby woodchuck/groundhog that came toward me

The baby woodchuck/groundhog that came toward me

I don’t think it’s a bad thing that I have so much interaction with the animals around me. Far too many humans have lost touch with nature and forgotten the fact that we’re all connected. I never forget our connection, I feel it every day and do my best to reflect the positive energy I receive from my feathered and furry friends and family. Beautiful things happen every day when you slow down, take a breath and open your eyes, ears, mind, heart and spirit.

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Confidence is Natural…

Mr. Bluebird perched confidently on my pine tree.

Mr. Bluebird perched confidently on my pine tree.

Confidence. The Oxford Dictionary defines confidence as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.” A very apt definition. To me, confidence is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember. Perhaps everyone struggles with it at some point in their life. I often worry that if I am too confident in myself I will come off as conceited. Conceit defined as “excessive pride in oneself.” It can get rather confusing…to me anyway. Then again, I’m a human.

On my drive into work this morning I saw a red-winged blackbird sitting on the tiniest twig of a branch. He was rather calm looking and didn’t appear to have any fear that the twig was going to break and drop him. He knew his wings would catch him if the branch broke. He had confidence in his wings, or perhaps it’s just natural instinct. I envy animals and their instincts and I highly doubt they ever suffer from low self-confidence, worry, doubt or self-deprecation. Seeing that one bird sitting there started the wheels of thought in my brain and when they start, they’re hard to stop.

That blackbird didn’t spot that twig from the sky and think “I wonder if that will support me? What if it breaks and my wings suddenly malfunction and I drop to the ground? What if all the other birds laugh at me?” He probably thought: “Branch. Perch.” and accomplished exactly what he wanted to. No doubts, no fear, no worries, just action. That bird was confident in his abilities as a bird because he knows no other way to be. I envy him. I continued on this course of thought…

I always see hawks circling in the sky or perched on the wires between telephone poles. They’re searching for prey or resting from their last meal. When they spot a mouse, small bird or other oblivious impending victim they don’t think “What if I swoop down, misjudge my aim and miss the prey? What if the prey spots me and runs away? What if my wings get tangled and I tumble and fall gracelessly onto my head? Would my fellow hawks see? I’d never live it down! Would the prey come back and laugh at me?” They just dive and either get their prey or they don’t. If they miss, they’ll try again without a second thought and without a loss of confidence. That’s how they know to be. I admire them.

I am opening myself up for some ribbing from friends by saying this, but I then thought about squirrels. Those bushy-tailed rodents are always running across the road, scampering across wires and climbing trees. They quite often make great leaps from tree to tree and run the tightrope of wires spanning the road. Do they pause on the branch or wire and think “What if I gauge the distance wrong and miss the branch? What if I swish my tail incorrectly and topple from the wire? What if the car doesn’t swerve with screeching tires when I pause in the middle of the lane?” They just act, confidently and quickly. Their lives aren’t long enough to waste doubting their own abilities and there isn’t room in their devious little rodent minds for useless worry. I’m almost jealous. Almost.

It’s spring and therefore mating season among the birds in my yard. The male birds are constantly strutting around puffing out their chests and flapping their wings as they sing what must be a beautiful serenade to the female birds. They’re very competitive and chase each other away every other minute. Their instinct is telling them they need to mate so they do it. They don’t perch in bars, scan bird dating sites and spend hours fretting about having every feather in place. They do what they do and expect it to work and it must since there’s never a shortage of birds in my yard. They’re confident that they can get a mate because that’s how it has worked for countless years.

In my constant quest to be more confident in myself, I’m going to take lessons from the animals I observe around me. There is a balance and power in the animal kingdom that I’m certain can teach me quite a lot. I’m confident that when I stop tripping over my own worries, doubts and fears I’ll finally be able to spread my wings and truly fly…and perch on the tiniest branch of hope without the slightest fret of falling.