A trip to the Arboretum and animals in our tree…it was a good day!

Today was the turning point in a three-day wondering what is wrong with me event.  Let’s just call it a funk.  First it loomed, then it swarmed, and then landed.  I knew it hit hard when I began looking all over the house for a secret stash of Halloween candy. No chocolate to be found, I made an extra pot or two of my favorite green tea and cleaned and straightened a closet. I finally figured it out when I went to my reading pile, took a fresh look at what I’d been consuming, and then I just had to laugh!

An NPR interview promoted A Thousand Lives, by Julia Scheeres, a cheery little book sharing the story of five Peoples Temple members who went to Jonestown. This week marks the 33rd anniversary of that horrible event. That’s certainly sobering.

Then, despite remembering how low I felt after reading  Joan Didion’s 2005 autobiographical The Year of Magical Thinking—a hard-hitting chronicle outlining her grief and personal upheaval following her husband’s sudden death, I still purchased and began reading her newest release, Blue Nights, memories of her daughter Quintana’s life and death.  You can see where this is going!

Finally, the trifecta of gloom, Walter Isaacson’s 600 page portrait of Steve Jobs.  It’s a well-written and very good book, but be prepared for melancholy!

So I admit that I didn’t use the greatest wisdom in my literary lineup.  But at least once I realized why I was so gloomy, it was up to me to chart another course!  So today I focused on things that made me happy.

If it’s Tuesday it’s Sophia-Karina day!  Two little girls who chatter almost non-stop and make me laugh at their funny observations provide an immediate mood boost. They are the proverbial counterweight to gloom!

We started the day watching the squirrels scamper up and down our redwood tree—the special tree birds brought to me years ago! I frequently think about how for years I had wanted a redwood, but couldn’t quite justify the expense of another tree. When I found the sapling hiding in some fern in our side yard I was sure that God hand-(or bird) delivered it as a special gift to me.

Later in the day we made a trip to the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden to feed the ducks and peacocks. We caught a sunny afternoon (always better for my mood!) and liberally enjoyed.  Rain is coming later this week.

A Rare Zen Moment

As the girls and their mommy pulled out of the driveway tonight I spent a few minutes staring at Jupiter in the night sky.  Jupiter has been making a spectacular appearance this month and I am most appreciative.  Despite the fact that I accept the futility of my intention, I grabbed the camera. I have no special lens, no tripod, and basically no way to really capture the moment.  But I wanted to try anyway.

Can you see Jupiter?

I know you really can’t see it (Jupiter is that tiny dot hanging under the tree branch) but I had to try.  I can see it in my mind’s eye.  While I was appreciating the moment, you can imagine my surprise when suddenly my tree came to life! The branches began to violently move and I could hear a scratching on the trunk that indicated something quite a bit larger than the squirrels was awfully close! For a moment flashes of Sophia’s coyote foreboding flashed through my mind.  Before I could contemplate the fact that coyotes don’t live in trees, a larger than I would have imagined raccoon dropped inches from my feet.  I learned that I don’t scream when I’m terrified! I stood almost paralyzed as TWO MORE dropped from the tree! My tree!

I guess I’m going to have to go back to the Animal Speak book to see what it means when three raccoons drop from a tree and land at your feet.  What I already know, however, is that this was just the best way to end my day. I have wildlife living in MY tree! Perfect!


16 thoughts on “A trip to the Arboretum and animals in our tree…it was a good day!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures, Elizabeth. It was a beautiful outdoor day, and for mid-November, a gift! Funny how our mindset affects what we tune into and appreciate, isn’t it? I know you completely understand that! D

    2. Susan Rice

      How’s this for a good laugh–woke up one morning to the noise of our two male Maine Coon cats going bonkers at the bedroom sliding glass door. Our cats, Kato and Vinny don’t get out much (strictly indoor cats) so I figured it was no big deal and whatever had piqued their interest would eventually leave, but their rather loud guttural noises continued. I looked out the window with fear and trepidation thinking something bad had made its way into the backyard from the wetlands near our home. I laughed and laughed when I saw three mallard ducks taking an early morning dip in our pool! After enjoying themselves for a bit, it was time to preen on the deck. A minute later a fourth duck slid into the pool! I had visions of a large pool and poop party, but what is one supposed to do in this situation? I figured they would eventually leave and I continued to watch the fun. Turns out duck number four wasn’t in much of a mood for a swim. He began quacking loudly at the top of his quack to the other three ducks. This wasn’t just normal dick quacking, this was anger! Having never seen anything like this before I was taken aback, wondering if I should just open the door to shoo them away. Before I had finished the thought all four ducks winged their way to the open blue sky. Poor cats-they had no clue. And neither did I for about ten minutes until I figured it out. The three ducks left their formation for a little R & R at the nearby “pond” and were MIA. Commander Duck number four, taking his job seriously, flew in for an arrest and return!

      It turns out that this portion of Northern California is a “fowl freeway” so to speak for our feathered friends, all lanes open, no signals or stop signs. Seeing birds in formation is a common sight now, but I will always smile when the ducks quack ask they change lanes on their fowl freeway.

      1. Susan, how fabulous to have taken this all in! You had your own nature show, for sure! You told a wonderful story…you need to stop by often and share your experiences! Fowl Freeway, huh? That’s just hilarious. I’m a little envious of your home at the edge of the wetlands. What else do you have in there? 🙂 D

  1. Dear Debra,
    These fall days after harvest, when the land lies fallow, bring with them melancholy. It comes, willy-nilly, whether we are read about Jobs or Joan Didion’s books or about the senseless tragedy of Jonestown. And yet melancholy will, as you have shown, relinquish itself to the laughter of children, the blue of a peacock’s breast, and the fall of three raccoons.

    Thank you for reminding me of this. Today, I too, will live this home of mine and find the moment beyond melancholy.


    1. Oh so beautifully said, Dee. You are so right! The fall and coming winter landscape does in itself contribute to a different level of energy! I feel that. Even “sunny” Southern California isn’t feeling very warm right now. Thank you for tuning in so closely to what I was sharing. Peace in your house, too! D

  2. Aimee

    OMG…I just read this again from beginning to end. I’m trying to get perspective in your “Jupiter” picture and am I to understand that the raccoons came down from the Redwood? Regardless of what tree they came from, we must never speak of this incident around Sophia… EVER!! or she may not want to go outside at your house ever again….especially at night 🙂

    1. Yes, indeed, my dear! Right down the redwood and practically on top of me! I think perhaps my mad camera flashing spooked them. So we scared each other. We have made an agreement that I will leave them alone at night now, if they will stay in their nests during the day! And I couldn’t agree more that we will not tell Miss Sophia a thing about this! Bless her heart! She asked me again the other night if Papa closed the gate.

  3. Ellen

    OMG, talk about a 180-degree shift from the reading material which has captured you (or darkened your mood) to the raccoons dropping in on you! WOW. It seems your God/bird tree now delivers much larger 4-legged critters. I’m sure you were relieved the little girls were not with you at that moment. Note to each other — we will go into the yard and scream. I have been told we must practice these exercises in our own defense. Really.


    1. Ha! Yes, Ellen, right about where we say goodbye when you leave the house. I certainly never had a clue they were there. Very exciting, huh? And you’re probably really accurate about the need to practice screaming. As loud as I am…you’d think I’d have this down!! D

  4. Debra, I’ve had a similar funk after reading The Book Thief and then The Things They Carried. Yesterday, I opened up a Debbie Macomber Christmas read, which we are doing for our holiday book discussion (which really means we read a light book and mostly chatter and eat) and felt my mood brightening. Then, to read of your delightful day with your granddaughters, Jupiter, and furry friends dropping for your tree, I think of Dorothy saying “lions and tigers and bears, oh my”!

    Your photos are lush and pure as those two little darlings.

    1. Thank you, Penny, for the compliments on the photography. Great subjects do help, don’t they? I have thought about my relationship with books that were meaningful, profound, and simply thought-provoking and as you can well attest, they do sort of seep into our consciousness and make themselves comfortable. And if the writing is of a higher quality, all the more! I think I just need to pace myself a bit, and reading something lighter, like the Debbie Macomber book, can be a very nice shift this time of year. I don’t need to be preoccupied with anything right now! It’s a busy time of year! Glad we can share book experiences! D

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