Cranes In My Cranium

Recently, I wrote about my feeling that the “circle of life” might be more of a curved line in my case because I don’t have any children. Mona, one of our faithful readers and commenters, shared her perspective on the “circle of life” from her experience working in a hospital. She said that there were always new babies in the nursery when someone died elsewhere in the hospital. Her comment really resonated with me. It was a timely reminder that everything isn’t always about me all the time. Imagine my surprise and dismay! Still, even when reality is a bitter pill, it can have the power to heal.

A few days after I posted that piece, the Universe brought Mona’s point into even sharper focus for me. As I was driving through my community, I nearly drove off the road because of cuteness distraction. I saw my first baby Sandhill cranes of the season. Those of you who have been reading the blog for some time will understand my reaction. By the way, if you haven’t been following every blink of my rapid eye movement for the past couple of years, where have you been? If you would like to jump on the Sandhill crane express now, you can read http://www.terrilabonte.com/tag/cranes/ .

Sandhill cranes are a bit of nature’s serendipity to me. I never expected to fall in love with them when I moved to Florida, but they never fail to lighten my mood. Over the past several weeks, I’ve had my eyes open because Momma and Daddy Sandhill cranes usually start prancing their new offspring around the development right about this time each year. Even with my keen anticipation, the sight of these new fluffballs on stilts flipped my equilibrium when I saw them. It was only by the grace of God that I did not flip my car as well.

The sight of those newborn cranes filled my heart with effervescent delight. I felt as bubbly and fizzy as champagne all morning. I was operating under the influence of baby cranes, a condition which surely must alter the state of the mind. In fact, by the afternoon, I didn’t think my day could get any more whimsical and entrancing.

But wait, there’s more. Later in the day, I was driving down a highway to a doctor’s appointment. I turned off the main road onto a smaller street to get to the medical building parking lot. Almost immediately, I noticed a very official-looking sign on the side of the road proclaiming, “CAUTION! BABY CRANE CROSSING.”

I know, right?

I parked the car and walked over to get a better look at the sign. Apparently, the question is not only why does the baby Sandhill crane cross the road, but where. Somebody was taking no chances with baby Sandhill crane safety. There were at least five such cautionary signs spaced out along the road. It was pretty charming.

When I saw the doctor, she asked me how I was. I told her I was wonderful and related my Sandhill crane sighting stories with great delight. She looked at me rather oddly and suggested that perhaps it was time to cut back on the anti-depressant.

Today, I was running errands and happened to notice another Sandhill crane family parading around a schoolyard I was passing. The momma, daddy, and two baby cranes were promenading in perfect unison. They instinctively adjusted their strides to form perfect lockstep ranks and files. I wish I had been a crane when I was in the junior high school marching band.

What a wonderful day! The sight of those cranes put a soft, slippery smile on my face that has been there ever since. It is a smile that suggests I have a precious, heart-filling secret.

I do have such a secret. My Sandhill crane friends have taught me something. My life is not a circle. And that’s okay. My life is a small dot on the circumference of a much huger continuum. And that continuum is the circle- the circle of life.

What about you? Does Nature ever put you in your place and make you realize that there is more to the world than just you? Won’t you tell us about your experience? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a beautiful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: I am kind of surprised that I have only heard from a couple of people about a spot at the virtual launch party for Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement. Of course, I know that you all have lives that do not revolve around me and the publication of my book. I understand if you cannot join us or if you just don’t want to participate. A couple of my friends suggested, though, that some of you might not have a good understanding of what you would be getting into if you come to the virtual party. When I was working, I swear it felt like I existed more in virtual life than in real life. I guess I forget that not everyone spent thirty plus years with a phone growing out of his or her ear. I thought I’d give you some more info on what to expect if you come to the party.

Step #1: Email me at terriretirement@gmail.com to let me know you would like to attend. I will reply to you with a telephone number you can call from any phone, toll-free, a little before 4:00pm EDT on Saturday, 5/19/18. I will also give you a participant code.

Step #2: At party time, you will call the phone number I’ll provide you in my response to your email. An automated voice will prompt you to enter the participant code. Once you do that, you will be on a phone call with the other virtual guests, me, and the folks attending in real life. You will be on speaker phone, but I will give you instructions on how to mute your line at the beginning of the call, if you would prefer.

Step #3: Enjoy! We will have a couple of drawings for REAL prizes- no virtual teddy bears! I will do a reading from the book and field questions from the participants. During the event, one of my lovely assistants will be emailing you photos and coupons and information on how to purchase the book. If you don’t wish to get the emails, all you need to do is let me know. You are still welcome to join us.

There is no charge to you for the party and the process for joining is simple. I am limiting the number of spaces for virtual guests because of budgetary reasons- and also just to make sure it doesn’t become a crazy free-for-all. Right now, neither of these issues should be a problem, so please email me today at terriretirement@gmail.com if you would like to join us so that I can give you the call-in info and get you on my list.

The Wild Life

A few weeks ago, I was driving down the main artery of my housing subdivision and noticed a flock of spectators standing at the side of the road.  They were staring into one of the many large heritage oak trees that grace our community property. I have to say these oaks are pretty impressive, but I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a crowd gathering just to stare at one before.  The people must have come from far and wide to view this spectacle, whatever it was, because the crowd included pedestrians and bicyclists.  Many stood motionless, cell phones in hand, breathlessly ready to snap photos. 

As I approached the band of sightseers, I slowed my car and peered at the tree as I passed.  Then I saw what was captivating the crowd.  There were three fuzzy, feathery faces peeking from a messy nest in the fork of the tree.  These little puffballs with eyes were baby owls. Obviously, a worthy tourist attraction.  I made several trips back and forth over the next couple of days.  It was pretty easy to tell when the baby owls were making a personal appearance by the throngs of admirers gathered beneath the oak branches. The owlet view never got old. To be honest, I was gurgling and chortling with the best of them every time I drove by and saw…  WHO? The young ‘uns, of course! 

Once, I saw the mama and daddy owls.  I’m not sure if an owl can actually be self-satisfied, but the avian parents sure seemed to be gloating over their breeding prowess.  They stared out of the nest, languidly eyeing the fans below.  I guess they deserved to exhibit a smidgeon of smugness.  Those babies are quite an accomplishment!   

Some days, all I saw was the nest. Before I saw the baby owls, I probably would have been excited just to see the nest. Now a collection of twigs and leaves woven into a bird condominium fails to impress me.  I crave the whole baby owl experience.   

About a week ago, I drove by and noticed that someone had secured an area around the owl-occupied oak tree with yellow police tape.  Apparently, the hordes of admiring fans and cell phone paparazzi freaked out the baby owls.  In the interest of wildlife conservation, someone decided to give them a little space.  Not privacy exactly, because crowds still gather regularly to gape at the nestful of adorableness. Owl baby pictures are splashed all over the covers of Facebook.  Still, now the owl aficionados have to maintain a respectful distance from the owl nursery.  The cordoned off perimeter is sort of like an ecological restraining order.  The owls are able to get their forty winks (and don’t owls just seem like they wink a lot anyway?) without worrying about a crazed birdwatcher committing some manner of nest invasion crime against them.   

I like living in a community where yellow police tape means “please don’t disturb the owls” instead of “please don’t disturb the evidence!”

With the coming of the owlets, I guess spring is officially here!  What makes spring official for you?  Please share your perspective by adding a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Sorry about the early post this week.  I have to be out and about early tomorrow morning, so thought I’d post tonight.

Have a hoot of a day! 🙂

Terri/Dorry

In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t take this picture.  A kind soul shared it on Facebook.

The Hoppiest Place on Earth

When I moved to Florida,

There was no one to caution

That I’d find plagues

Of Biblical proportion….

 

It wasn’t an eclipse of the sun.  Water didn’t turn to blood.  I don’t have boils.  It is frogs.

The other day, I opened the garage door.  Max came out to open the garage screening so I could go to my water aerobics class.  He took one look at what lurked outside on the driveway and, without moving the screens, he fled to retrieve a broom.

Frogs.  Hundreds and hundreds of them.

Yes, there were literally hundreds of baby frogs lethargically hopping around outside our garage door.  They were each about the size of a watch battery and the color of raisins.  I’ve never seen a raisin-colored watch battery move before, though.  These critters were definitely moving, although pretty laconically.  I guess baby frogs don’t really have a sense of urgency.

I dealt with the lizards.  I dealt with the snakes.  I guess I can deal with the frogs.  But what’s up with them, anyway?

I hopped (with considerably more energy than the baby frogs, I might add) onto the internet to google “invasion of baby frogs.”  As an aside, doesn’t “google” just sound like something relating to frogs?  At any rate, I learned that it is actually quite common to encounter zillions of baby frogs hanging out around your property in central Florida.  Apparently, mother frogs lay sufficient eggs to result in up to a thousand baby frogs at a time. Then, the moms just hop off to greener pastures.  Our driveway was the froggy equivalent of a doorstep on which to leave a baby…. excuse me…. vast quantities of babies.  There are no baby froglet Mommy and Me classes. Apparently, there is no nurturing or rearing of any kind.  According to the Internet, few of the thousand or so baby frogs survive beyond their first week.  Go figure.  I’m sorry to say that the baby frogs born in our driveway amphibian maternity ward probably have a shorter life expectancy than most.

I didn’t really have anything against them per se.  They didn’t annoy Max as much as the lizards did.  They didn’t creep me out the way the snakes did.  They were actually kind of cute little buggers.  It was just the sheer number of them that was kind of disturbing.  There were so dang many of them; it was almost like there was an entire layer of frogginess on top of our driveway. I’d say there were more frogs in my front yard than there are people in my entire community during the summer.  We were definitely outnumbered.  It was kind of alarming.  We sprayed some stuff across the entry to the driveway and swept away as many of them as we could.  I’m sure I probably ran a few of them over as I backed my car onto the street.

As we looked around the perimeter of the house, we saw that we were kind of surrounded.  Everywhere we looked, more baby frogs.  We kept spraying and sweeping so that the baby frogs stayed “around the house” as opposed to “inside the house.”  This operation continued every time we wanted to go in or out any door to our house for the next several days.  Knowing it was a self-limiting condition made it easier.  Sure enough, after about four days, we no longer had layers of visible frogs surrounding the house.

It has been a couple of weeks now since the frog plague.  We still see the odd toddler frog around the yard.  They aren’t bothering me, so I don’t bother them.  After all, if we have to have a plague of Egypt descend upon us in central Florida, frogs aren’t the worst of the bunch.

Of course, I still have a few niggling doubts.  How do we know that the frogs are the only plague in the offing?  What bothers me most is that both Max and I are first borns…

Of all the situations I’ve encountered since moving, I think the frog invasion is the oddest!  What about you?  What is the weirdest thing that you’ve experienced in moving to a new place?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  Have a great day and hop to it!

Terri 🙂