January 30, 2022 –I had a vision in the Before Times. When my spouse and I retired, we would spend weeks, if not months, somewhere warm during cold and damp winters. That has not happened. I admit I am somewhere warm; I’m in my office chair. Every. Single. Day. Other visions I’ve had included working at “The New Yorker” while living in Paris. I’ve subscribed to “The New Yorker,” and I’ve been to Paris. Twice. Life is filled with such compromises. I’ve also envisioned life with a younger Robert Redford, the “An Affair to Remember” version of Cary Grant and his not-by-birth son George Clooney, though not at the same time. And it goes without saying, Idris Elba.
(I have no complaints in the Spouse Department. First, Beloved Spouse is the funniest man who ever lived. Ask anybody. Second, anyone who knows me knows that my Drug of Choice is Sugar. My diabetic husband — who shops for our groceries — brings me Cherry Tootsie pops. That’s love and devotion.)
But Mother Nature is in charge. No warm winters for us. We’re now in the beginning/middle/ending of a Great Pandemic that has likely changed the world in more ways than we can now comprehend. So, two years after it began, we are at home.
My Significant Other has his own man-cave space in the basement, so we are able to co-exist without killing each other. However, 90 percent of our conversation is “Whaaaaatttt?” Each thinks the other needs a hearing aid, and well, getting a hearing aid would involve going out in public. Which we rarely do.
As for me, I rise somewhere between 8 a.m. and “Jeopardy.” Then I piddle the day away. First, I make a cup of coffee and do the daily Wordle (a new, pleasant, and unstressful activity). Next, I read my local morning newspaper online complaining about the poor quality of proofreading and typesetting to Said Spouse. Then I read my other subscriptions, about which I do not complain except for the occasional rant about the content. (Recent rants include: why Eastern Europe doesn’t need World War III, why did Amy Schneider bet so poorly in game 40 of “Jeopardy” and lose, and why the news coverage for replacing a minority SCOTUS judge is so over-the-top? Do the math! Don’t even get me started on that one.) Finally, I check my texts and emails, and I’m ready for breakfast, either Cheerios and milk or a bagel and cream cheese.
I head to my office by late morning, where I spend most of the day looking at birds at feeders on our deck. I never intended to be that person–the one who talks about birds constantly. Nevertheless, that’s what has evolved. First, there was one tube feeder, then two, one with safflower seeds, and one with niger. Then a see-through acrylic feeder for the window. Finally, I added two-cylinder feeders this year and stuck a cylinder on the kitchen window ledge.
I’ve never really been that interested in birdwatching, but I started feeding on our deck four or five years ago. As my health and the pandemic keep me at home, I’ve found watching birds of all shapes, sizes, and colors incredibly entertaining. Their tiny features are so endearing, and their behaviors are so weird. For example, have you ever seen a Northern Cardinal feed a mate? It’s amazing.
During my youth and working years, I had a songbird’s constant motion and chaos. But this is me now: picture a sloth hanging on a tree in the Dominican Republic, except that this sloth has funky fun purple cat-eye bifocals, a black T-shirt with a picture of the Cheshire cat, or Edgar Allen Poe, pink yoga pants, and red slip-on Sketchers. I dropped the business jackets, blouses, scarves, black dress pants, and leather flats when I retired. Instead, I willingly moved to stylish activewear that matched. Then, I paid attention to my glasses, earrings, socks, and shoes being the same or a complimentary color to my top and pants. Now I don’t care. And I’ve taken an odd turn and pride myself in wearing at least three uncoordinated colors if I’m not leaving home. What does my husband think, you ask? He’s the one who wears a baseball hat in the house, plaid pajama bottoms, and a 1960s vintage cardigan like some situation-comedy dad.
And imagine if the birds could comment on me?
Said the nuthatch to the Northern flicker,
“Have you seen the Midwestern Pale White Fogey with the red feet and black breast?
How does she support her large apple-shaped middle with those skinny legs?
And why does she stare at us for hours upon hours?”
I welcomed the slowing speed of my life when I retired and didn’t have to be somewhere before dawn five days a week. But I think there’s supposed to be something between Warp Speed and not knowing or caring What Day it Is. (For the record, my Beloved bought me a digital clock that gives the time and day in large, easy-to-read, high contrast letters. The clock was advertised, “For the sloth-like woman with a macular hole in one eye, and glaucoma in the other.” My Beloved Spouse knew it was the perfect gift for me.
Many people do not have the gift of free time that I’ve been given. So, despite my binge-watching “The Real Woodpecker Wives of Indiana” and “Sex and the Single Tufted Titmouse,” I do have some actual work within the sloth milieu. For example, I serve on my church council. This often involves spending ten minutes of each Zoom meeting figuring out if my mute and video are on or off.
And like bad cable, there’s always a bird show.
Disclaimer: I must note that I am very grateful to have a loving and hilarious spouse, a warm home, a healthy adult child, other family members and friends who love and support me, and the gift of retirement. (You have to love a man who brings you a bag of Tootsie Pops, all cherry, from the store. Dip them in black coffee. You won’t be sorry.)
I needed to state this disclaimer because so many people in my town, country, and worldwide are in deep trouble. I am not unaware or unsympathetic.