Empty Nests

December 7, 2021

I went out at 10 a.m. up on the ridge. It was cold, blue skies were giving way to flat gray clouds that moved in slowly. The clouds didn’t seem to diminish the sun very much; the woods were still lit up with glistening pools of water, shiny leaves, glowing bark. I felt perfectly at home, and I stopped several times (as I do) to listen, smell, scan the woods. Sometimes I do this to bring myself back to where I am, as thoughts will distract me. I stop and look north, east, south, west. Then I continue.

As I walked, I wondered: what season is it this week? As the winter sets in, I begin to feel anxious: do the seasons stop? Can I keep seeing something new? I know I am impatient, and sometimes the season does not become evident until the end of the week after thirty miles of walking. I tried to remind myself of this, even as the doubting side of me started calculating—maybe seasons should be named every other week during the winter and summer, when things become static? The thought of giving up entirely is also always present—I am a good quitter as well.

But I settled myself down, finally convincing myself that something always pops up. Something always appears. Sometimes several things. Something will show itself. And it was a few minutes after this that I found a beautiful delicate bird nest right in the path, fallen from one of the tall hemlocks above. Whose little home is this? I am not a nest detective, so I am unsure, but it’s delicately woven strands of the lightest, most flexible tiny branches and pine needles were a wonder. And I thought: it is most certainly empty nest season.

Notes: I’m definitely one of those people who maybe doesn’t think ideas through completely. But that’s the beauty of it all–you learn as you go. When I first had the initial idea of documenting microseasons, I thought: wow, winter is going to be hard. But that’s also the fun of it. I am not a court astronomer, and this project is more like a poem of sorts than a hard and fast documentation. It’s a work-in-progress and not a science.

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