It is twenty-six degrees outside and the paper tells it will get no warmer. I have a to-do list as long as my arm but this morning a downy woodpecker came to my feeder and now I am keeping watch for his return. He was stealing bits of the suet, hammering with his hard bill on that frozen block of lard. I briefly entertained microwaving the thing for his benefit, but even I realized this was silly. He returns periodically, hitches to the side of the wire feeder with his four toes, and takes my breath away. His underfeathers mirror the down of the surrounding snow. I long to touch, to smooth fingers over that deep soft. His red cap seems like an exclamation point and I read it all to that end. I sit still at the kitchen table, barely daring to breath—fantasizing about birding expeditions and wishing life was not calling me away.
I have been reading Annie Dillard’s Teaching a Stone to Talk and she has filled my head with all sorts of adventures. She writes about exotic travels and the beauty of little known places. Last night I started the chapter about her time at Galápagos. I am filled with longing for a life of seeing when I read these things. But then I remember this article that I read last summer and I am grateful that I have choices.
I have chosen this life.
I remember this with sobriety this morning as I reflect on the events of my day thus far. There is the rising in the quiet. The making sure the lunches are packed and the coffee is made. Dogs out in frozen tundra. The gym clothes that are not ready and somehow it’s my fault. Forgotten backpacks and drop-off lines. Then back to laundry and this house and the downy woodpecker.
Well, it surely isn’t gazing at the palo santo trees on Galápagos. But there is poetry to it. If I allow myself to see it.
Last night, I told my friend, I am learning to think in poetry. I look for poetry in my day to day.
Yes, she said. Because she knows this too.
I think of those words said to me between the walls of the hospital where I work. The mother eyes, their longing–the deep pool of them.
I just want things back the way they were, she said. I just want our life back.
This is the life I live in. I choose this life. I choose to see each moment.
And pieces of my day lift up before me like lines of a beautiful sonnet. And my eyes are opened to beauty.