Monday, July 1, 2013

Màiri's Musings From the Sunroom - My Tutor, the Cardinal

Living in the country has some wonderful advantages to the city. It's quiet. Private. Tranquil.
We get more visitors than we do in town. Of course, they're more often of the feathered, scaled, four-footed and eight-legged kind, but who's complaining? I find them wonderful (except when the red-bellied water snakes and blue herons eat the fish in the pond).
I love the outdoors. I truly do. Maybe it's because I've been a city girl all my life, and moving to the country opened my eyes to the beauty and wonder of the natural creation. When the wind rustles the leaves it's like watching the unceasing movement of the ocean. The variety of insects - many of which look like little 'aliens' to my worldview - leaves me spellbound. Squirrels, possums, (the neighbor's cats) and the occasional deer or wildcat wander through our back yard…and the birds! Bird species here are countless, but in my city experience, sparrows, pigeons and the occasional dove – and on the coast, seagulls – were all I knew.
Out here, I can't even name the species I hear singing to me (well, they don't actually sing to me, but I feel like they do), in our backyard ‘playground’.
It's unfortunate, then that the outdoors doesn't love me back. I won't go into that (I promise). But the situation required a bit of doing on our part to get me outdoors without being outdoors. Hence, the sunroom.
I love my sunroom. Three walls of windows through which I enjoy the outdoors all year round in indoor comfort. In winter, I curl up on the love seat with a cup of Swiss mocha while the snow turns the world into ‘wonderland’. Many a day finds me standing in awe as God cleanses the earth with mighty rainstorms. Weeks fly by while I watch spring paint the yard in glorious colors. The room is a precious gift.
This past fall a new – and rather comical – joy arrived at my haven. I was scrounging some lunch when I noticed my two younger cats in the sunroom, staring out the window with that fixed concentration at which cats excel.
They were vocalizing that strangled noise unique to cats when they want to hunt, but can't. Curious, I moved closer, and then I saw it: an exceptionally territorial cardinal landed on the sill of the window above the sunroom door and began shadow-fighting his reflected image. The cats' whiskers and tails twitched with his every fluttering movement. Their bodies strained toward the window as if by sheer will they could reach the critter.
The little fellow did this from dawn to dusk for weeks. I thought he'd eventually realize it was a hopeless venture and give up. He never did. In fact, he also discovered his adversary in the window above the other sunroom door, the kitchen window and yes, even in the reflection from the shiny black surface of our little round barbeque pit (I've never read that cardinals were smart).
Suffice it to say our little red wing fighter taught me a lesson.
Being a writer (and an aspiring self-pubber) is fun. It can be rewarding and fulfilling, but it can also be hard work and teeth-gnashing to the point of saying, "Forget it! I can't do this."
When those times come - and inevitably, they do, like now, when I’m two months behind schedule on getting my first book published - I gather the shreds of my fortitude, remember my reasons for writing, and consider the instruction of my feathered tutor.
To this day, he still fights that interloper in his territory. I don't believe he'll quit until the day he meets his Maker. Neither will I…and if you are an aspiring author with a heart full of stories to tell, neither should you.