As I stared blindly out our picture window this morning it hit me. "Three more days," I thought. "Surely I can some up with three more days of writing." Some days, I pondered, were easy, while during others the tension built exponentially as the day progressed. Nothing popped into my head. Zero. However, faith has a way of leading to a nugget of an idea here and there which may magically turn out to be a precious gift from on High. God himself.
Today, my gift stared me in the face; all I had to do was acknowledge. Sipping my coffee, I idly watched a squirrel chasing its tail around as it raced up the same oak tree that very well could smash our house to smithereens if it ever came down! While our neighbors have picture windows that look out on the sometimes questionable peace of our neighborhood, ours faces the back. It's a decision the homeowners made when they built that I have always applauded. I love the view.
Our back yard offers a vista like no other. While we sit on a little shy of 1/2 an acre, the back is wild. About 15 -20 feet beyond our house, the ground falls precipitously, and a stream marks the edge of our property. An enormous oak tree dominates the landscape. Its looming branches offer cooling shade to our house and shelter for wild things. A multitude of tree species competes for space on the steep hillside, while at the bottom the ground gives way to a wet sogginess that can morph into a small pond, if we have an angry enough rainstorm. During spring the stream flows furiously, eventually calming down in late summer as it shrinks into a muddy meandering trickle.
Through our picture window we have witnessed countless animals and their antics. We have seen some of the more familiar, like rabbits, deer, chipmunks and squirrels. We have also seen skunks, snakes, raccoons, groundhogs, flying squirrels, owls, hawks, ducks, turkeys, fox, a bee colony on the lookout for a new home, and numerous other kinds of birds, butterflies and moths. We have been jolted awake by a fox's scream that would make your blood curdle.
We are so lucky to have this animal kingdom in our backyard! Over the years, the drama of life has played out before our very eyes and has led to many an animated discussion. And while growing up our children have stood in awe at our window, soaking in very scene of spectacular wonder comprised of life competing with life; death chasing life, blood being spilled in the name of survival. Immediately outside, almost touchable. They would crawl quietly, so as not to startle the critters outside, moving slowly, flattening their noses against the window, fogging it with their breath, eyes gaping wide with wonder.
Countless times my husband has called to me, "Colleen, come quickly!" Followed by, " Don't move too fast. You'll startle them!"
"What's out there?" (whispered)
"Over there, 10 o'clock, right on the tree branch." With his experienced hunter eyes he discerns the slightest movement, first to notice something interesting taking place.
I'd slowly move up to the window following the angle of his outstretched arm, eyes searching to see another wonder. Maybe a stalking fox, or maybe a hawk about to clutch a victim. Standing still in companionable silence, we watched nature's story unfold.
I finished my morning coffee. I stood wrapped in the warmth and comfort of my home, the drama of nature unfolding outside my picture window. Treasured memories continue to hold our family together. My vision cleared. I knew exactly what I was going to write about; the endless kingdom of our backyard.