The Nutty Way I Start My Day

Every morning, after I come in from my daily walk, I feed the squirrels. I suppose the routine provides a grounding reminder I’m but a single thread in the elegant web of life. But honestly, I just know those silly squirrels are guaranteed to start my day with a giggle and a smile.

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I feed the squirrels outside the small, square sunroom off our kitchen. The room has a wall of three floor-to-ceiling windows. If it gets much past eight, the squirrels stand on their hind legs on the window ledge, peer in the window, and sometimes even tap at the glass. “Um, excuse me…hello in there…we’re ready for our breakfast,” they seem to say.

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The squirrels no longer scurry away when I open the back door carrying my container of peanuts. I walk out onto the deck and make the same kissing sound I’ve been making for a year now. “Time for breakfast,” I say to a usual crowd of four or five familiar squirrels. (The chipmunks are hibernating for winter, but they’ll be back in the spring.)

The squirrels hop up onto the deck or peer around from the side of a tree and reach their little paws towards me as if to wave hello. They don’t yet eat directly out of my hand, but I think it’s just a matter of time. I’m getting very close with a friendly little one I call Baby.

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I’m able to sit, just inches away, and watch the squirrels eat. I can easily spend fifteen minutes or more studying their tiny ears, shiny black eyes, beautiful coats, and fluffy tails. I often think about trying to draw them. I wish I had even a pinch of Beatrix Potter’s talent for creating whimsical illustrations of the critters.IMG_0604 (1)

If I’m very quiet, I can hear the sweet squeaking noises the squirrels make while eating. They pick up a single peanut in their mouths, transfer it to their front paws, and anxiously nibble it down. They stare at me with cautious intensity, and occasionally say with their blinking eyes, “Nom, nom, nom…so delicious…thank you!”

Some mornings, when my furry friends seem especially impatient, I just open the windows and put the peanuts on the ledges while they anxiously wait with their adorable little faces looking up at me. Mike always stands at the ready in case one decides to come in and make himself at home.

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He is a little worried about my relationship with the squirrels. We had to say goodbye to our 17-year-old dog about a year and a half ago, and he’s not keen on getting another pet right now. So he continues to bring home twenty-pound bags of unshelled peanuts for my friends. I know it’s a little nutty, but life is all the better for starting our days with the simple joy of feeding the squirrels. §

How do you connect with nature? Do you have a relationship with wild critters? How about pets? How does it make your life better?  Please share your thoughts and ideas with our community. Just “Leave a Reply” at the bottom of the post. 

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The Elegance of Feeding the Birds

My husband taught me the elegance of feeding the birds. Initially it was his interest, and I stood back wondering if it was worth the effort. It wasn’t long before I was convinced the time and money we spent caring for our feathered friends was returned many times over.

Whether you live in the city or the country, maintain an elaborate system of bird feeders, or just sprinkle bread crumbs on your window sill, feeding the birds brings simple elegance to life in these six unexpected ways.

1. Kindness – When we do something nice, no matter how simple, it increases the kindness in the world. A single kind act can have a long-reaching ripple effect, sending good vibes throughout the planet. Watching the birds gleefully flock to their freshly filled feeders and bird bath, makes us want to keep spreading good cheer.

2. Connection – Over the years, I’ve watched the birds from kitchen windows and backyard porches with family and friends of all ages. Watching the birds together creates a sweet and common bond over the wonder of our shared world.

3. Learning –  When we watch the birds, we naturally want to know more about them. Is that a bluebird or an indigo bunting? Do orioles prefer oranges or meal worms? Did you know a woodpecker’s tongue is so long it wraps around the inside of its head? There is so much to learn! 

4. Beauty – In our flashy bigger-is-better world, we can easily miss the subtle, natural beauty of life. When we take time to notice a bird’s intricate coloring, delicate shape, and  sweet song, we begin to appreciate the genuine beauty in the world we sometimes take for granted.

5. Simplicity – A few seeds and a little fresh water is all a bird needs. It makes us stop and think about what we really need to live a healthy, happy life. Watching the birds mindfully eat, chirp, nest, and fly encourages us to strip away the pretenses and live a more simple, authentic life.

6. Charity – Remember the bird lady Mary Poppins sang about? “Come feed the little birds. Show them you care and you’ll be glad if you do. The young ones are hungry; their nests are so bare. All it takes is tuppence from you. Feed the birds. Tuppence a bag.” We all benefit when we share our blessings, not just count them. §

“I wish we had all been born birds instead.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut