I have had this uncanny sense that I’m about to experience some miracle.
Is it the onset of summer? A time of less work? I have been freelancing, leading workshops, substitute teaching, tutoring and working my ass off. Okay, I wish I worked my ass off, just a little — not that my ass is too big — but well, you know, metaphorically.
And then, there’s the work of family life — the endless meals and maintenance that my three teenagers and disabled spouse require.
But two of my darlings will be in summer camp and one will be on a school trip to Botswana soon. And my husband will be on a fishing trip in Canada. So, maybe it’s just that — soon, for a couple of weeks, I will have less responsibility. I will be free. I can watch what I want on TV. I won’t have to work so hard.
Maybe, it’s the longer days and the light. The birds are definitely chirping when I wake in the morning.
I can ride my bike everywhere and I am always happy on my bike.
I can’t quite put my finger on why I feel lighter in spirit. I just know that something good is about to happen. And I wonder what it is.
I was in Central Park on a snowy Saturday morning with my friend Charles Chessler. He had rallied several of his friends to go birding and photographing birds through a Facebook invitation.
I love walking or riding my bike in Central Park.
Charlie has great charisma. People and birds just love to stop, chat, and pose for him.
I’d gone out birding with Charles a few times before. On this trip we were searching for some rare long-eared owl in the pine trees near the Angel of the Waters. But instead, on that branch, we spotted a fat and still-hungry hawk. We spotted a lot more than that too.
Here’s what we saw:
Baltimore Oriole (male and female)
Dark eyed junco
Downy woodpecker (male and female)
Yellow bellied sap sucker
Northern cardinal (male and female)
Maybe yellow warbler
Yellow rump warbler
Louisiana water thrush
Black and white warbler
Red wing blackbird
Black birded green
We go birding in Central Park behind the cafe, across the Bow Bridge, by the Ramble.
For the record, I could not identify any of these birds (except maybe the cardinals and blue jays) without help from Charlie and fellow birders and photographers Dan Lane Williams and Amanda Bielskas. On previous birding jaunts, we met Birding Bob and friend Andy Gershon.
Although I don’t really know about birds, I know about the beauty of birds. As Emily Dickinson wrote:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
Going out for a walk with birders reminds me to slow down, take in the beauty, stop time with a photo, even if it’s cold and snowy — especially then! There’s beauty and hope all around. You just have to look for it.
If you like the beautiful photography of Charles Chessler, (and who doesn’t?) I have a request. Chessler is entered in a photo contest. If he wins, he gets a trip to a safari in Namibia. He is less than one thousand votes away. He needs 212 Votes to pop into 4th place!
Charlie and I are friends from the NYU Stella Adler acting school in the ’80s. He’s a fitness trainer with a specialty for keeping senior citizens active.
If Charlie won the trip, think about the great pics he’d share with us! Vote at BandH Photo Contest. He might even just even invite all of us along — at least on his Facebook stream! 😉
But if I had to live on an deserted island, I know I’d have to take one more thing — sunscreen. Because my dermatologist would yell at me more than she already does if I showed up at my twice-yearly appointment with even more sunspots.
In terms of non-things on my island, (in addition to my immediate family, of course), I’d also want to take my book club and my writing class because we never seem to run out of things to say about what we write or read.
I’d also like to take Manhattan to my desert island because it is a treasure trove of beauty, especially on a foggy day like today.
Man, today was bea-ut-i-ful — so perfect for a bike ride through Central Park. Scroll down for a few more pics.
On a writerly note, I was going to post a memoir piece about my Norwegian grandmother that I wrote in the my Monday night writing group, but suddenly it felt too personal. Any way, come to a writing workshop if you want more personal writing. Check out the workshops at: http://www.bootcamp4writers.com/
I seriously was about to cry when I read The New York Times Sunday travel section today. The cover article, “Give Us a Break,” by Jennifer Conklin talked about three levels of spring break travel: budget, moderate, and in your dreams.
The budget travel option for a week-long vacay in Orlando (without airfare) for a family of four? $4,115. This is referred to as “thrifty.”
Really? Really? Is that thrifty? I consider it thrifty to spend less $400. For our spring break, I am hoping to spend less than $1,000. Maybe I’m jealous. Maybe I’m out of touch with the cost of vacations.
I still think vacations cost about what they did when I was in college. My bible was the paperback “Let’s Go Guide to Europe.” I think my budget was $20 a day.
Are we not, as a country, still clawing our way out of a recession? Are we not all looking for simple joys and saving any extra thousands of dollars for our kids’ college? Who reads The New York Times that $4,000 is considered thrifty?
I don’t care. I will rise above.
I do want to go somewhere grand for spring break and I will. I am psyched that we have spring break plans to visit cousins in Boston or Nantucket and perhaps some old friends. Vacationing with family and friends is way better and more luxurious than some stupid generic vacation a travel agent could arrange.
Maybe the Times did not publish this article to infuriate me about the cost of spring break travel and my inability to travel first class. But did they really have to rub my face in that $1.06 million Caribbean private yacht cruise as an example of the in your dream options?
So to calm my anger, I will write a few “thrifty” spring break fun ideas (and all for about $2.50 a day)
sit on a bench in Central Park with a friend (free)
visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Natural History (donation is a suggestion)
ride on the M5 bus to SoHo ($2.50) or Chelsea and gallery hop (free wine!)
walk the High Line (free)
have coffee at a cafe and write in your journal ($2.50)
bike ride in Riverside Park (free)
Saturday morning at Wave Hill (free for the fam)
read The New York Times, get mad, blog about it ($2.50)
help friends with a creative project, working on a movie, like I did today (free)