Peace In A Tin Can

Peace In A Tin Can

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Best Snow Day Ever?

Today, my daughter had a snow day.  Again.  It's all just part of the cosmic conspiracy to keep me from writing.  However, contrary to what people think of me for hating snow days, it's not an entirely selfish reaction, it's just that I know how the day will go.  While it's true that I won't get any writing done, it's also true that my daughter loves snow days only until 9:00am, when she wakes from a glorious sleep and delights in the fact that she got to sleep in, only to remember that the day ahead will be long and boring.

The roads were pretty bad today, and the wind chills were brutal, so she couldn't call her friends to go sledding, or to come over and build a snowman.  Many of her friends live out in rural areas, and I was not willing to drive the slippery roads to pick them up, and their moms didn't want to bring them here either.  So my little Bean, while refreshed from catching up on her sleep, spent most of the day on the couch, watching mind-numbingly stupid shows on TV.  Bean is far too active a girl to enjoy a full day of TV.

Meanwhile, I shoveled the sidewalks and plowed the driveway.  An hour later, I did it again.  I did laundry, fixed the dryer, and checked emails.  I tried to write, but Bean kept calling out to me from the couch.  She made plans with friends, and would yell, "Mom, can I go to so-and-so's house at noon?"  and I would holler back my permission.  Ten minutes later, the plans would fall through.  Bean made plans with friends all day, but nothing ever came of it.  I gave up trying to write, hovered on the fringes of depression, and took a nap.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to my depression.  I found a way to love snow days, even if only for a moment.

After my nap, I sat down in front of my computer and was scrolling through social media sites when Bean wandered into the kitchen and sat down next to me.  She was complaining about how bored she was, when she suddenly exclaimed, "Mom!  Look at that bird!"

Outside the window, where I keep a bird feeder filled with seeds, was a Blue Jay, one brilliant bird among the many nuthatches and sparrows.  Then Bean shouted and said "Look, there's three more!"
She asked what kind of bird they are, and suddenly I found myself in my element, teaching her about Blue Jays.

Google Images
Bean moved closer to me, and I pointed out the coloring of their feathers.  She asked how to tell the difference between males and females.  Blue Jays do not exhibit differences among males and females by their markings.  Instead, you must observe their behavior.  I told Bean to watch each bird, and tell me what they are doing.  One bird would land, and the other three would follow.  The same bird would call out, imitating a hawk, and the other three would call out too.  When the one bird flew off, the other three followed.

The bird initiating the behaviors is the female, while the males imitate her, trying to impress her.  Mating season starts soon!

Blue Jays are a close-knit family unit.  Mates are monogamous, and males are fairly involved with nest-building and rearing young, though the female has the final say in all matters.  (Maybe that's why Bean is drawn to them!) They are very social birds, and will warn other species of birds of danger.  Blue Jays are also highly intelligent, and can be a bit aggressive at the bird feeder.  Bean was enthralled by them.

Sorry about the quality, pictures taken through
windows are never good!
 Then the best thing of all happened; a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker made an appearance!  It swooped in, ate from the feeder, then flew off to land on the trunk of a nearby tree and started pecking at it.  Bean and I laughed as the Sapsucker backed down the tree trunk, and in that moment, I was so glad she'd had a snow day.  I would have missed this moment with her, sharing what I know and am passionate about and seeing her delight.  I'm not trying to sound cliche here, but it was a beautiful thing.

I don't care about the rest of the day.  I forgot about my frustration at interrupted schedules, I didn't dwell on the fact that I wasn't accomplishing much.  For that moment, Bean wasn't bored, she was at my side, sharing something wondrous.  She wasn't a teenager; she was my girl again.

The next time Bean has a snow day, which will most likely be next week, I might even suggest a snowy walk in the woods.  Who knows?  Maybe we'll see an owl, or a red-tailed hawk, or wild turkey.  I can show her rabbit tracks, deer tracks, and coyote tracks.  It's quite possible we could simply walk silently, and she might begin to understand the serenity I feel in the wintery woods.

Bean, and my other children, are a gift to me.  I have always believed that, even when I don't show it. Today, Bean was my gift, my reminder to slow down, breathe, and take in the moment.  If I can give that gift back to her, teach her to be interested in the natural world and to learn how to really observe what goes on around her, then I was a good mom, at least for a moment today.  The rest of the day?  Eh, maybe not so much, but I think Bean cherished our moment as much as I did.  Then a friend called, and she left.  Her warmth stayed with me.

I hope you had a simple moment of joy today, and every day.  I will remember today as the best snow day ever, at least for a moment.