It is early. Dark. Winter.
I see the sun out the window as it begins it’s stretching salutation from east to west.
A bird – maybe the same bird as when I let Izzy out earlier – is singing nearby.
A bird. Singing in winter. Before the sun rises over the cold dark world.
This is 2020.
It is dark and the world feels numbed — chilled to the marrow — though fire roars across Australia and hungry people swelter in Venezuela‘s tropical heat.
The darkness feels as if it could paint itself into our DNA at winter’s front door of wind, ice and long dark nights.
A bird singing. It was singing. The sun has risen far enough that the bird has tucked itself into it’s resting place. Maybe it, too, is watching the sky fill with oranges, purples, golden reds and light. Noticing.
I was so grateful to notice that bird.
The sun painting the sky.
The smell of bread wrapped in one windy swirl. The smell of old fire on the next.
The way the crispy leaves sounded like surf overhead as I walked Izzy in the breezy late night.
The feel of the sun after rainy days – rainy days that just happened to coincide with Christmas holiday and a few good books in my current reading pile.
Crunch of crinkly grass and muddy ice crackling beneath my feet on the foggy trail.
Melissa’s baby – round and rosy and kicking her feet.
The hunter and his starry corporeal self as he rises and falls in the sky over me when I walked home from a cookie and tea and book-to-read in Aggieville. My own dog star laying by the door at home.
Hoarfrost on grass and weeds and fields and trees. Fog rolling over the Kansas river as I sit on the Discovery Center’s rooftop to watch the sun rise over the Flint Hills.
The sound of steam racing through the cold campus heating tunnels and ending in a mighty, loud, triumphant (and startling) BOOM! hisssss. (Like a thundering T-Rex!)
People leaning toward one another. Listening with intention.
(The bird – or another – has begun its morning song. Chip. Chip.)
The feeling in my chest when the kids call.
A first kiss or the first-in-years from one.
The ways kids skip when happy or swing their arms only to stop to see tiny bits on the best walks home.
Curiosity. Exploring. Noticing.
These are the things that have helped me launch into the darkness of a season we share and – I believe – finally wriggle from a too-long too-dark season within.
The veins of a curious spring plant. The smell of something delicious and unfamiliar cooking as I walk to the bookstore (was it cardamon?). Finally making it to the Shamrock Cafe, Mt. Mitchell, through that book, and out of my tired fears and into saying hello again to someone I have known since my kids were small. Very small.
Light through the glass masterpieces across the street. The richness of earth and smell from a surprising deep red wine. The sound of joy and delight as really old friends regroup around a table. The sound of skis over snow (just thinking about it has my heart rising in hope and anticipation … schuss!)
Noticing has helped me to see the humanity in place when the world seems batsh*t crazy. When I don’t feel my feminine cozy self for lack of sleep or a misplaced sense of confidence. When today’s news threatens to annihilate hope and seems to say that reason has left us all.
Noticing hope, color, light, song, flavor, the softest pup ears on the planet.
Noticing what I can do and what I cannot.
I can push myself and stretch my hope and willowing 52-year-old self into service; I can write that letter. I can send that $5 for bread or adopt a koala. I can get to know my neighbors and listen to my best friends. I can rake the yard, hold a hand, notice when I need a moment and how loss may bend my heart, but not always break it.
I can be still and listen to that lone bird chirping out in hopes of raising a few more into song. A song that just might heal a battered world.
As dark days can make noticing difficult, are you looking for ways to remember sweetness and cultivate hope? I have an idea. Make a point to notice. Fill up a notebook with at least one thing a day that you delighted in or appreciate. Or toss color-rich marbles or bits into a jar and fill them with what you have noticed. Since I have bits of wood, acorn, shell, cotton and flint in mason jars already (memories), this year I am writing quick notes about what each day brought in gratitude and wonder.
What I’ve noticed.
You still have time to notice, too. Whether you mark in a book, jar, action or memory. It’s 2020. A lot is happening.