About a hundred feet from my patio stands a large pine tree. Beneath its spreading branches a couple of rabbits have made their home.
Rabbits at home under the pine tree
I see them hopping about, nibbling the grass, chasing each other, and, on occasion, jumping cleanly over each other in joyous abandon, a perfect example of joie de vivre.
It is the end of December. I look outside and the lawn and trees are covered with a fresh dusting of snow. It is quiet and peaceful. I fancy I am a tracker from the time when hominids clad in animal skins would hunt grasping nothing more lethal than a flint topped spear or axe. I go out looking for deer, rabbit and fox tracks in the snow.
Nah. Who are we kidding?
The Holiday Season is upon us.
The walls are decked with holly, the houses and rooftops are aglow with lights, jovial Santa is smiling benignly and Rudolf the reindeer is prancing on the lawn. The malls are packed, parking is at a premium and of course the mad rush of shopping for presents continues unabated. I find people slumped on benches and chairs in the mall, exhausted by long hours of hunting for bargains and presents.
Which begs the question, why.
Tired from shopping
Deer in my backyard
I woke up early. It was a beautiful day. The sun had just peeked over the horizon and the treetops were ablaze with color. Ah Fall! My favorite season. I got up and walked to the window and stopped dead in my tracks. There, in my backyard were three deer, one with antlers. They already had their brown winter coats which contrasted beautifully against the dark green of the lawn and the bright yellow of the trees. I grabbed my camera, swiftly donned a jacket and crept outside. I tried to stay downwind in the shadow of my house but failed. The stag lifted his noble, antlered head and stared at me, nose twitching. His cotton-tail rose slowly, preparatory to give the warning call. I froze. He relaxed and resumed grazing. The light was not optimal but I look a few photos. I watched mesmerized as he gradually walked away.
It is the Labor Day weekend. Hurricane Hermine, as it churns up the Atlantic coast, is promising to put a big damper on the festivities. But, how can I resist the charms of a Labor Day barbecue? So I tune into the weather channel and its incessant, up to the hour updates from a reporter standing on a beach holding a microphone in one hand. It is hard to hear above the howling winds. A roiling ocean with crashing waves is in the background. A stray thought crosses my mind: Why do premier TV channels put their reporters in harm’s way. For ratings? But I digress.
I lift a moist finger testing the winds. I observe the clouds and their speed and direction, put on a thoughtful face and try and predict what it would be like two days from now, on Labor Day (September 5). Too risky for an outdoor barbecue, I conclude. But, why not have a barbecue today, September 3? There is no law against it and the weather is positively balmy.
What makes a person happy?
I grew up watching my father leave for work every day in the morning and return in the evening. He worked hard, paid for the schooling of two children, built a house for his family and, in time, retired. I watched him transition smoothly and happily into retirement. He would sit on the porch, play with his grandchildren and leisurely watch the world go by. He had a peaceful, beatific look on his face. That picture remained with me. To me, ‘retirement’ is associated with peace and happiness, of a life well lived.
We had sensed it coming in the carefully worded corporate announcements and in whispered conversations beside the water coolers. The uncertainty was nerve racking. But when the layoff was announced, it was almost a relief for me; the agonizing suspense was finally over. I was face to face with reality. Continue reading