Thursday, October 6, 2011

I missed an entire season of osprey

Never Done: I missed an entire season of ospreys

I have been coming to this house on the mouth of the Damariscotta River in Maine since 1967.  I found ospreys to be so riveting that I wrote my fifth grade science report on the osprey (and boy do I wish I had it here so I could scan the cover, and show you my own colored pencil rendering of an osprey's likeness.) At the time, they were endangered by DDT. People from Maine Audubon used to come out and climb up trees that had nests, to test the eggs for poison. (DDT caused egg shells to become too thin, and they would break when the osprey would roost.) For many years, I was vigilant about observing the young -- elated when I would see their heads pop out of the nest, curious when I would hear their peeps, encouraging when they would start to fledge. And then with time, things got easier for the osprey, and more and more young were born, and slowly they moved off the endangered species list, and eventually they became ubiquitous. A day wouldn't go by when I couldn't spend hours, literally, watching them fish -- or just fly.

I spent many years far away from Maine, but still, I came back to visit, and when I did, the first thing I would do was to look to see where the fish hawks were nesting that year. Since I've been living back on the East Coast, I've been able to come more often to Maine, and as the years have gone on, more and more bald eagles have joined the osprey on this river bank. This year, however, I didn't get to Maine in April, as I planned, and then also not in May, and then not in June or July. And not in August. And by the time I finally got here at the end of September, the ospreys had left already. At first I didn't believe it; it seems early for them to leave -- I have shared this space with them well into October in years past.  But after three days here and no osprey sighting anywhere, I realized they had gone. That same day, I saw my first loon of the season. (They tend to show up just about the time that ospreys head south.)

How strange to miss an entire bird season. It takes an entire day to get here from Brooklyn, so once I started my full-time, non freelance job, it became quite difficult to get up here for even a long weekend. As this year comes to an end, and I examine my relationships over the past year, and I think about what I hope to accomplish and experience in this next year, I am trying to think of a way to get out of NYC more often, without running myself ragged. I also realize that I need to plan some days off when I don't plan to go anywhere, but to do laundry, get my car fixed, and just rest.  Balance. It's all about balance. Because if I don't take time to get my car fixed, then I can't get out of town to hang out with ospreys. But if I only get my car fixed (that's a metaphor -- and also applies to grocery shopping, laundry, and the other mundanities of life) then of course I'm distanced from my spiritual and physical life, and I will never get to see the ospreys.

So as this year draws to a close, and as this next one draws near, I welcome balance into my life. And into yours.

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