By NANCY JANE KERN
ONE OF MY BIRD-LOVING FRIENDS understands things to help us as we age and sent me a wonderful present via Amazon: a heated mattress pad. This helped to welcome the new year, and it was wonderful. Moving bags of bird seed, filling bird feeders, and craning my neck to see a bird in a treetop is tough on an aging body.
My two sisters and their husbands have these luxuries. I have been resisting it and am not sure why I haven’t succumbed to their urging. Now I am in the circle of family and friends who have added another tool to lessen pains and continue some of our more youthful activities. For a winter day, the weather looks okay and is strange with no snow on the ground. The deer are out eating grass, and the birds repeatedly eat at the bird feeders. Two days ago, it was surprising to see a gray squirrel dashing across the drive carrying a big mouthful of dry oak leaves, probably to repair or bolster its nest.
Squirrels are not coming to the bird feeders, which is good, and I wonder if the mild weather is giving them other food delicacies in the woods. We have passed the winter solstice, the year’s dark day. Our days of diminished sunlight were a reminder of what a horrible time this was for early man. No wonder they were in fear that the sun was going away, to leave the world in cold and darkness.
Big bonfires would be a great comfort, and records of the sun’s return were carefully documented to reassure the next generations. The intense heat and beautiful play of light and color from a wood fire is a comfort and instinctively sought by all of us.
A past Christmas service had a particularly good message. The pastor said that joy and happiness were two different things. Happiness is a transient mood. Joy is a stable state within us built on faith. We can all celebrate at this time of year regardless of our beliefs. It would be nice to watch and learn from each other like the animals and birds do. Nature can be a brutal force; it never guarantees peace or comfort, just respites.
We can mentally hold onto these moments and whatever our beliefs, do our best to bring harmony to our earth for the coming year. Thank you, my thoughtful friend, for this gift of a warm bed to welcome in the New Year and I wish peace, good health, and joy to all.