As summer fades and fall moves in, the visitors to the tree outside my window are not the usual suspects. Not the usual summer suspects, that is. My visitors these days are the migrating visitors – the ones we see in the spring and in the fall, but rarely during the summer. There is the White-Crowned Sparrow, a handsome little guy.
I looked in my app – research inconclusive. Possibly – very slight possibility – it’s an American Pipit. Or a juvenile White-Crowned Sparrow. I’m leaning to the sparrow. In any case, I liked how he stood tall and proud, feathers unruffled.
My feathers are slightly ruffled – but in a good way. In just two days I shall leave the warmth and comfort of my home and head east. All the way across the country east. To the Northeast. To the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State. I am excited because I am going to visit a very good friend who has been my friend for approaching 50 years. I have not seen her since 2006, and much has changed in our lives since then. My head is spinning, planning and plotting and wondering if I have remembered everything I must remember. I have paper confirmations of my travel plans as well as digital confirmations. I cannot quite seem to get away from that paper thing.
There is this little guy – another unidentified – who is busy preening and smoothing feathers. I have been busy with the human version of preening and smoothing, deciding what clothing to take, packing. Adjusting what I have packed. Planning what comfortable knit clothes I shall wear to travel – nothing restrictive, the important thing here is clothing that gives, that will move with my body, that will not squeeze in any area during the hours spent in a not-big-enough airplane seat.
The clothing dilemma is mainly me trying to outwit Mother Nature. Yeah, good chance of that, right? Do I take the warmth of fleece – ah, but fleece is so bulky, I say. Probably not necessary just yet this time of year. The temperatures will be much as they are here at home. I think it will be layers, camisoles with long-sleeved but lightweight shirts. And a vest or two. Neutral colors, of course.
While I am in the east in the valley of the Hudson, I shall take a day to visit family – a former sister-in-law, a niece and the children and grandchild of that niece. Those I have not seen for so many years – perhaps 40 years or thereabouts? This is one of the good parts of Facebook, where my niece found me. I was thrilled when she found me, I am thrilled that I will get to see them again – no longer the little girl with her mother that I remember, but as an adult – a mom, a grandmother – her mother as a grandmother and great-grandmother. This trip has so much promise, and I am so happy to be making it.
My thoughts are bouncing back and forth, up and down, all around. Can you tell? My words are not really related to the photos, but that’s okay, really it is. I think nothing more can be expected from me now. I think until I am aboard the train that will take me to the big city miles north, where I will spend the night and board the plane the following morning, I think my thoughts will lack cohesion. I will check my suitcase, again. And again. I will check my lists – the ones that tell me things I should not forget to put in my suitcase, or my carry-on, or what I must remember to do yesterday, today and tomorrow – those lists. I will check them frequently. I will cross things off, I will add things. I will rethink my choices. Because you know what I realized yesterday? This will be the first trip I have made entirely on my own, with no one beside me, for about 20 years. That’s a very long time.
So I sit and stare out my window at those visitors who are not the usual suspects, but are welcome still. And always when there is a rule, there is an exception, so while most of my visitors are not the usual suspects, there is one who is a constant, who is not a visitor because he is here all year long. Squawking, complaining, rarely – if ever – singing songs of joy or beauty. But still, he has his own beauty, more readily enjoyed when he keeps his beak closed and silent. He is the Stellar Jay.
Now I must leave you for this moment. I must go check that suitcase, those lists. I must see what I must do today so that I will be ready to leave Tuesday morning. Early. To catch the train that will take me to the big city to the north. Where I will catch the plane that will take me to my friends in the east, those who are not the usual suspects that I visit. Another example of enough, you see?