Sandhill Cranes gather by the thousands along the Platte River this time of year. Even on a overcast grey morning, it’s an amazing sight to see the islands formed in the river from sleeping crane families. As they fly from the river, it’s often in large groups. If you want to learn more about cranes, read the book about cranes by Paul A. Johnsgard, with photographs by Thomas D. Mangelsen. It is called A chorus of Cranes, published by the University Press of Colorado.
The cranes feed in fields along the Platte during the day, then return to the river at night.
Two years ago, I visited a Prairie Chicken lek in northern Nebraska. It was another early morning wait in a photography blind for the birds to wake up and begin their mating dance. Most of the people in the blind were professional photographers with amazing cameras, but I captured a few pictures of male Prairie Chickens showing off for the gals.
Weather permitting, I hope to see the mating dance of the Sharp-tailed Grouse this weekend. When I’m home, I watch Doves, Blue Jays, Finches, and Woodpeckers eat from the birdfeeder outside my kitchen window. Bird watching is way for me to chart the season’s changes. I find peace in Mother Nature’s company, at home, or in a bird’s backyard.
It was a wonderful spring break in Nashville, TN and Ashville, NC. The Smokey Mountains are beautiful. I’ve returned home to a snow-covered landscape and below-freezing temperatures. As the landscape here at home is covered in white, my decision-making is obscured in fog. I hoped to make some progress toward my retirement decision during vacation, but I used the week away as an excuse to avoid thinking seriously about anything.
I enjoyed southern food, and visited many beautiful historic sites.
The cemetery at Andrew Jackson’s historic home, The Hermitage, has an impressive garden dedicated to Mrs. Jackson. The garden is already blooming in early March.
Mrs. Jackson’s burial site is near the garden. I hope to think more clearly when it’s warm enough to putter in my own garden.
Spring is out there somewhere south of Nebraska. I’m going in search of that elusive season on March 1st. There has been and continues to be a flurry of events to organize and/or attend, appointments to keep, and chores to do before I leave.
I like to keep early morning set aside to work on poems and short stories, but today, find my head full of lists to be checked, bags to pack, and arrangements to make before I leave. The trip will give me a chance to recharge and reflect.
Pickles the sheepdog will stay in town with family, the house and barn cats will rely on kindness of others to come by and feed them regularly. Horses will get their hay and oats while I’m away. The automatic waterer is a wonder for all.
If planning for a week’s vacation is a major undertaking, I’m trying to imagine how to plan for retirement. How do I capture all of the details in my head and transfer them to paper for the next person, or will it matter? Will supervisors re-write my job description? Will the organization decide not to replace my position? How will I manage my time without a daily schedule? Many questions, but few answers.
The closer it comes to my self-imposed decision time, the more difficult it feels to know what to do. After a successful student-planned dinner last weekend, the club officers have selected dates for the next three years of dinners. This group of students are a lot of fun. I will miss them. However, I can’t base my retirement decision on them alone.
A week away will help me review my options.
I learned sad news about two of my favorite antiques stores when I met a friend for lunch recently. One store was already closed with all the merchandise gone, and another posted Going out of Business signs in the window. These stores had their heyday ten or fifteen years ago when everyone wanted to own a piece of the past. The past was defined as eighty to one hundred years old. Shoppers were mid-fifties and older.
We collected furniture, dishes and doodads from our grandparent’s generation. I rarely see unique items to add to my collections anymore. This scarcity tells me that all the good pieces are already sold or no one cares about that type of miscellany today. I’m also more selective about adding items that will be difficult to sell or give away later.
There aren’t many estates of that era left to re-sell as antiques. As the antique store owners have aged, the shoppers have aged with them. Many folks downsize into smaller houses or condos at retirement and stop collecting.
Collectors today are in their thirties and forties and what they seek is mid-century modern furnishing or stylized patterns. The mid-century items remind them of their grandparents.
My near-retirement age dates me more like an antique than some items for sale.
This year for Valentine’s Day I’m dreaming of sunshine warm enough to melt the foot of snow covering everything, and the much taller drifts covering flower beds and breaking fences. I want the ice to melt to make walking easier for all of us. I want my frozen Nebraska backyard to turn into green grass and spring flowers. I’m dreaming of days filled with sunshine and warmth, although there is peace and beauty in sparkling snow.
I’m looking forward to early tulips, daffodils and lilacs. Its 10 degrees outside today
so I may need to go on a southern vacation to find spring flowers this early. However, I can take a mental vacation from winter by leafing through seed catalogs. It’s time to plan the summer vegetable and flower gardens.
Yellow cats have been part of my life for forty years. One escorted me across half the country three times. Colonel Mustard (pictured) is the latest bit of sunshine in my life. His yellow fur flies in tiny helicopters when he shakes, covers chairs and tabletops. He offers kitty kisses to the tip my nose if he thinks I need cheering.
Yellow cat number one pressed his nose against the bars of a Syracuse, NY shelter in 1974. He purred when I stroked his fur though the cage. He came home with us that day. We called him Morris after a cat food commercial on TV that featured a golden kitty. We thought Morris was too ordinary a handle, too common, so his name evolved to Moshe, and finally to Mos. He lived with a houseful of adolescent boys in a Syracuse group home with us, moved from New York state to Nebraska three times, and settled in to help parent when our kids arrived.
Mos greeted a cadre of international students when they picnicked on the ranch in the early 1980’s. He treated students from Japan, China, Finland, Malaysia, and Iran all the same. He allowed each student a chance to give him one stroke, before he moved on the next, taking his ambassadorial duty very seriously.
Col. Mustard cheers me on to help the latest group of students from Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria and the Island of Curacao. He’s a bit shy and doesn’t want to meet any of them, prefers me to see the students at the office, but not bring them home to disrupt our golden naps.