She stood on the porch under the grey morning sky, photographer’s eyes keen on the juxtaposition of silver and gold that greeted her on this, the final day of the natural year. The strong winds of the night before were still gusting high above the ground; a harbinger broom that had come through to sweep the leaves from the trees. What would normally have been a rather dull scene was oddly bright, for every horizontal surface was temporarily coated with the fallen leaves and her small world felt just a little larger as she looked up and was able to see more of the sky once again.
It was a warm morning, all things considered. Though she knew the behaviors of the wilds portended a long, hard and bitterly cold winter, for the moment, at least, spirits both corporeal and non- would find themselves in relative comfort as they geared up for the annual celebration. Indeed, the small backyard was filled with the usual ragtag assortment of furred and feathered visitors, all eagerly awaiting her distribution of treats.
She filled the big feeder, left a few small piles of nuts to minimize furball squabbles, took a few deep breaths of the sweet-smelling air, and with a small prayer of thanks went back inside. The house was still quiet and she could hear the wind as it sporadically reached down low to race along the street. It was all about the wind, she thought; quite rightly symbolic that it had come through with such cleansing power last night. This was the time for fresh starts, for new beginnings, and the near-naked trees represented in some small measure the nakedness of her circumstances. Circumstances not entirely unwelcome but, as is usually the case, change does not come easy and her recent losses, while clear signs of where she was headed next, had not come without emotions of the most tearful sort.
Having been quite literally too busy to eat for most of the past week, she decided to do something different this morning and put two eggs into a pan of water on the stove. It reminded her of her late grandmother; they had shared many happy breakfasts of boiled eggs with toast in this very house and it seemed fitting to start this special day that very same way. As if another sign, the eggs cooked perfectly and, though not one overly fond of bread, even the buttered toast was delicious. when she finished, she thought to herself that even the king’s chef could not have made anything more tasty, nor more suitable. She took a last swig of coffee and felt prepared to tackle the never-ending chores that awaited her.
Just then, the clouds parted and the sun made a brief appearance to gild the tiny landscape in beckoning brightness. With a mess of furballs vying for treats on the back porch, on a Saturday morning the temptation was too much. She pulled on a fleece-lined jacket, grabbed her big camera and went outside. Positioned off the porch towards the middle of the yard gave her a splendid vantage point to document the furry feeding fun. She was rewarded by the appearance of the tamest of the chipmunks, who was making its final, furious forrays to stock its burrow with foodstuffs before heading underground to hibernate for the winter. Bold as brass, it gave her a smile as it marched right up next to the larger squirrels and vacuumed up the smaller pieces of nuts right out from under their noses before hurrying off again.
It was a few moments in heaven. Too much time had been spent working and on other pursuits; with every click of the shutter she felt her Self moving cloer to its normal state of balance. To some, the day’s results would be “just some pictures of squirrels”, but to her they were a key part of her life’s work and each bushy-tailed life she recorded had, in so many ways both large and small, touched hers and thereby given her gifts both immeasurable and of lasting consequence.
“Just some pictures of squirrels” in many ways defined her and when she finished, it was with both a lighter step and lighter heart she returned inside to tackle the mundane housework.