As in many parts of the East today, this has been a day to remember. A snow of snows following hard on a previous snow of snows a few days ago. A day, not of staying inside warm by the fire, but of re-shoveling almost invisible paths that wind their way to feeders in the far reaches of the yard. I do not mind the heavy snows. I only mind that they make food sources scarce and keeping feeders open difficult. But for the most part my labors were rewarded, the birds were able to find enough to eat and now that the darkness has come, I am relaxing knowing that I need not venture out again until morning.
My husband and I are preparing to leave a home and yard that I have been working on for 20 years. For the first number of years here I fretted and wished to live some place wilder, some place more beautiful and more secluded than was our half acre lot sited on a rural road lined with other similar houses. But in the last few years, as the gardens and habitat have matured and dozens of birds and pollinators made this place their home, I have known a new peace, gratified in the realization that that to which I couldn't seem to move I created here instead.
There are special, individual memories here, unexpected snapshots of life in the wild, lived under our very noses....toads emerging last spring from a window-well just off the driveway under whose leaves they had apparently slept through the winter; a bright male cardinal walking along the top of a fence back at the herb garden, plunging from the fence into a patch of rue time and time again and only after careful inspection through binoculars could I tell that he was plucking small black-swallowtail caterpillars to take back to his hungry babies; witnessing a Coopers hawk's in-the-blink-of-an-eye abduction of a young gray catbird just five feet from where I was standing; the sight of hundreds of fireflies lifting off at dusk like so many tiny Tinkerbells in Neverland.
As I look back on my life to this point, raising my children stands out as my greatest accomplishment. But making it possible for this land to raise countless generations of life of all kinds surely ranks almost as high. When we leave and move on what work, I wonder, will be credited to me? By what means will I benefit the earth and the people who live upon it in my new setting? A friend, just today sent me a quote by St Teresa of Avila that affirms what I have learned from living on my small bit of land in my small, humble home. "Do you think it is only a little thing to possess a house from which lovely things can be seen?" No, indeed. No little thing at all...I may not yet know what the future in an unfamiliar place will hold. But what I do know, having learned and lived here, is that there will always be something I can do to add beauty and sustain life no matter where I reside. For as long as I am able, I know this to be a work God has apportioned to me. Wherever I live I will be working to create "lovely things" knowing that they are the life source that nourish the other creatures who share this world. No little thing, indeed.