Saturday, May 3, 2014

Don't It Make Your Old Eyes Blue

Browsing my queue of unsent drafts, I found a February piece that I wrote when I was in a jolly good mood after the sun had come out for Saint Valentine's Day and the start of a grand bird counting event. I am publishing it now, because on this, the second day of May, the sun is again shining but I am in a more melancholy mood.

It is hard to avoid getting the blues occasionally when you reach a certain point in your senior years. You sense that people look at you in a different way and your words no longer carry weight. You are under the same picnic shelter at a youth sports complex with dozens of young parents for two hours and not one of them speaks one word to you. It is as though you are just an irrelevant old fool, even a non-person. What could you possibly have worthwhile to say or share?

An out-of-town visitor was chatting the other day about the virtue of just giving up when you are old and sick, and passing on peacefully to make way for the rising generations. Cheery thought. In all the hubbub about health care, you also frequently hear discussion of the necessity for young people to pay exorbitant insurance premiums to support the elderly sick. That is always a revelation to me because I pay through the keister for health and prescription insurance to supplement Medicare, which fails by a long shot to cover everything that is needed. Certainly it is true that as we age, our bodies will decline and need repair or mending. However, I believe it is also the case that we are less likely than the young to engage in risky behaviors that can have serious if not catastrophic medical consequences.

Before people worldwide had electronic gadgets to preoccupy them, I think they may have valued the opportunity to sit down with an old-timer and seek some of the wisdom gained from six, seven, eight, or even nine decades of experience. I know I did. But now the older folks are more often viewed as curiosity pieces at best and irrelevant drags on society at worst. The Smartphone is smarter than are they.

Certainly I could roll out a long list of people who have made great contributions to society at an advanced age -- even authored their first books or started innovative enterprises. But I wonder if late blooming will be as possible as it used to be as we move deeper into the 21st century.

Okay, as you may detect from the February draft that I am publishing below for the first time, a mood-brightener for me is taking a walk with my loyal dog in the bright sunshine with the birds singing and flitting about. So here we go. . .

                                   Discovering Joy on Day 14 of February

Finally, the sun is out along the Carolina coast. Temperatures will be rising into the 50s. And today, Saint Valentine's Day, is the start of the four-day, worldwide Great Backyard Bird Count.

After exchanging Valentine's cards and before going out to a romantic dinner, why not spend a little time outdoors (or cuddled up on a couch looking out the window) watching the birds and seeing how many different species you can count?

Sign up at www.BirdCount.org and you can submit your list of your observed birds and be part of a very worthwhile global census of our feathered friends. (This fun and educational event is sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada. I wrote about the details in yesterday's blogpost, which you can find just below this one.)

You can participate for just 15 minutes on one day of the four-day Count, or for as long as you want.

My lifelong sweetie, my Dear Wife, and I plan to do some counting this morning, and then more with the grandchildren when they come home from school, and then more each day through Monday. We will submit lists each time, and I bet they will add up to a diverse and colorful collection. I mentioned the start of the Count to the grandkids when we were out at a nice new Chinese restaurant last night and they immediately remembered last year's count and were excited about participating with us again. This is a wonderful event for reinforcing love of our natural environment with the young generation.



While writing this, I peeked out the window and saw an Orchard Oriole hopping around eating sunflower seed off the ground. That will be the leadoff bird in my count.

Happy birding and a Happy Valentine's Day as well to all!


© Robert G. Holland  2014

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