Is it Sunday?

I am suffering from an interesting phenomenon. I don’t know if it has a name. It’s the inability to keep track of the days of the week. This has led to a second phenomenon: posting my Sunday blog posts late.

Seeking to get myself back on a slightly more planned schedule, I spent some time contemplating why keeping track of the days seems so difficult. Let’s review . . .

Until 3 months ago, I was working long weeks for a large corporation. Monday-Friday, my alarm went off, I picked up my iPhone and checked my email and calendar. I answered any urgent emails from parts of the world that would be leaving work soon and then checked my calendar again to see 1) what time I needed to be ready for my first conference call, and 2) if I had any open time during the day to get anything done or if there were any conference calls I could skip to make time. Then I got ready to start my day.

Saturday and Sunday were days I didn’t set my alarm, didn’t have any conference calls (usually), and could catch up a bit on work I didn’t have time to do during the week as well as fit in some fun time.

That has a pretty definitive rhythm. It forces you to know what day of the week it is because you’re always working against deadlines and constantly looking at your calendar trying to find time to work and/or meet with people.

In comparison, I have not been setting my alarm most days unless I really think I’m going to oversleep. Generally, I wake up an hour earlier than I would set my alarm for anyway, so it hasn’t been an issue.

I have started trying to use my calendar because I do have appointments from time to time–or at least social engagements. But rather than actually looking at my calendar and figuring out what my day looks like, I am ignoring my calendar until a notification pops up reminding me that I have to do something. This does not require knowing what day it is.

There is little motivation to actually know what day it is. First, the only time it’s inconvenient is if you, for example, go to a store on a Sunday that isn’t open on Sundays. This hasn’t happened to me yet. Second, it’s depressing to realize x more days have gone by and you still haven’t gotten the things done you meant to get done, so why remind yourself by constantly knowing what day of the week it is? Finally, knowing what day of the week it is would mean having no excuse for the appointments I have missed when I didn’t get them added to my calendar.

Not knowing what day it is has not deterred my photography any, either. In fact, it may contribute to me shooting more because I am more apt to lose track of time altogether.

Birding 101

Birds reveal themselves to me slowly.  I must see them many times before I understand who they are, what they look like, what interests them, what they sound like, and I can recognize them like an old friend.

When I hear a bubbling American Goldfinch flying by behind me, I smile to myself, envisioning it’s scooping flight pattern, called “zooming” in hang gliding school.  How the goldfinch must love the zip of the dive followed by the lift, stalling and diving again and again, riding its invisible roller coaster and able to stay airborne because, unlike a hang glider, it can flap.

When I see a Great Blue Heron gliding in for a landing at the wetland, I know that the theory that dinosaurs did not all become extinct but some evolved into birds is true.  If ever there was a remnant of a pterodactyl, surely it’s the great blue heron with its crooked neck gliding awkwardly on giant wings, miraculously able to perch high in a tree on it’s fragile, stilted legs.

And now, I am pursued by brilliant Indigo Buntings.  They perch and sing their songs to me, over and over, determined that I will recognize the sound of their voice.  At long last I have learned to know them by their song.  I can smile and look and see a tiny silhouette off in a distant tree top, point, and say, “There is an Indigo Bunting.”  It seems like magic to those who have not listened to the bunting’s song 3x a day for months.  It seems like magic to me, even though I have.

No matter how familiar a few birds have become to me, there is always another bird to meet.  My latest friends are fly catchers.  The Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher is easy to recognize.  But the Eastern Phoebe and the Eastern Wood Pewee still manage to confuse me even though I thought I knew what a Phoebe looked like for many years now.  My human friends play the same trick on me–I often recognize them only to discover I’m saying hello to a complete stranger.  At least the Phoebe tells me its name over and over again in its distinct call of “Fee – bee.”

These are things I like to share with others.  I love to see people get excited about seeing a bird for the first time that they’ve walked by without notice for decades.  I love to see someone realize that a bird they thought they knew looks completely different up close through binoculars.

For this reason, I have started leading beginning bird walks for the Audubon Society.  I am not the best birder in the world–there are many species I would be hard pressed to even guess at.  But, having struggled long and hard to learn what I do know, I know what’s helped me learn it.  Maybe that’s why people say “those who can’t do, teach”?

Regardless, I’m happy to share smiles, even if it’s over a robin.

The Singing Towhee

I sit on the balcony and watch cars roll by.  It’s been a while since I’ve sat out here with my morning coffee–I am reminded of when we first arrived in Chattanooga 5 1/2 months ago.  Although, it was August then and I only sat on the balcony before sunrise–it got much too hot once the sun was up.

Earlier this morning, Tisen and I walked through the park listening to birds who clearly felt it was spring.  I believe it was just two nights ago there was a winter weather warning.  I listen to an Eastern Towhee and realize I’ve never heard one sing before–well, at least not when I knew that’s what I was hearing.  In fact, seeing an Eastern Towhee was always a rare event for me.  When I check the range map, I learn that they are present year round and this is not a harbinger of spring.  However, the urgency and vigor of his song competing with the robins’ probably is.

Our walk is uneventful, but when we return home, Tisen cannot wait to get off his leash and prance into the living room.  He does his playful prance that involves throwing limbs in directions it doesn’t seem like they should go.  I think he’s excited to see his daddy, but it turns out it’s Mr. Beaver he’s so excited to reunite with.

He and Mr. Beaver curl up on the couch.  Since my camera is still sitting on the tripod, I figure I might as well take a few shots, although I don’t bother to change the lens.  And, since I have my 17-55mm lens on the camera, I might as well go out on the balcony and see if the light is doing anything interesting to the view.  The city is shrouded in a slight mist this morning–the sun casting long shadows as it rises above the horizon.  In the sky above, a waning moon hangs mid-sky, too far from anything to get a decent shot with a my wide angle lens.

One thing is obvious–it’s going to be a beautiful sunny day.  Or at least morning.  I plop myself down on a balcony chair to write wearing my pajamas and no jacket and feel sorry for all the people below me in their cars who had to get up, get showered and into office clothes and are now on their commute to the office.

Of course, maybe they’ll have move fun at the office than I will have working from my isolated home office.  There is something about working from home that can make a person a little stir crazy.  I catch myself talking to Tisen more and more often.  He hasn’t answered yet, so I think I’m OK.  But perhaps it’s the fact that I don’t see other people all day that makes me notice things like the song of the Towhee?