Thursday, January 24, 2008

Icy Indiana

A cold sunny Monday holiday lured us to Patoka Lake in Indiana, purported to be the home of Bald Eagles. Where the wind blew across the middle, the lake was not frozen. All the sheltered coves were covered in ice however. A small flock of ducks paddled in the waves and a pair of Hooded Mergansers landed near them. The Canada Geese just gave up swimming and snoozed on top of the ice, joined by one lost Snow Goose. Ground water seeping out between layers of sandstone along the shore froze into silent white waterfalls. The surface ice was surprisingly clear and rocks on the bottom easily visible. Water erosion from millenia ago shaped the sandstone bluffs atop the ridges.

Since I don't care for winter sports that make your toes tingle and your nose run, I haven't been near any frozen lakes before, and was surprised at the sounds made by the ice. Creeaaakkk... I turned but saw nothing. Must have been the ice sheets shifting on top of the water. A quiet skittering noise was not figure skating mice after all, but only dry leaves blown along the surface by the wind. At the marina, one man turned a pontoon boat into an ice breaker to keep the harbor accessible to any boats braving the weather in January. Just imagine the noise the real ice breakers make on the Great Lakes!

Once again, the target bird eluded us, although we saw Red Tail Hawks, a Harrier, a flock of Bluebirds, Tufted Timice at a feeder, Killdeer and Kingfisher near the lake, a murder of Crows, and one soaring bird which dashed our hopes by turning out to be a Turkey Vulture rather than a Bald Eagle.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

When is Now?

This blog is called "Life, Birding, Photos and Everything" and Life has been on my mind the last few weeks. Usually, I just drift from day to day, sometimes thinking about plans for the next vacation or birding trip, sometimes remembering a past occurrence, and sometimes just dealing with today. A recent article in the comics of the local newspaper, believe it or not, focused my thoughts more precisely.

When is now? the writer asked, then answered himself, "Time is a lot like a string. Your now is like a bead that is always gliding along that string and the gliding never stops. That means every single chunk of now is an ending of something and a beginning of something else. Everything all the time is now. Yet as soon as you begin the merest thought of now, it is already in the past. Everything is connected, including the way time flows."

As a child, you think your life is fixed and reliable, yet as you grow you find that the only constant in life is change itself. Your parents grow old and die, then you become the ones that children look up to, and the children themselves become adults, responsible for making their own decisions in life. Even my 20-something son notices how quickly time seems to go now.

One of our dear friends has been diagnosed with cancer, and his prognosis is not good. Other friends have been ill, but none of them affected me as much as this. Then I got a letter from a college roommate who is fighting breast cancer. I don't know if my distress is for their suffering and the loss their families feel, or my recognition of my own mortality. This could happen to us just as easily as anyone else we know.

Seize the day, live for the now. Enjoy the sunrise and sunset, the birdsong at dawn. Tell someone you love them. Now is all we have really.