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Thursday, March 31, 2011


Change, as the old adage says, is inevitable. Knowing this, however, hasn't kept transitions from being difficult for me. I always tend to be most comfortable with the current state of affairs, and am reluctant to say goodbye to the present and embrace the future.

One classic example for me is when I have been spending time either in Portland or in Friday Harbor. Right now, after a couple of months back on San Juan Island, I think to myself, "This place is great. I love living on a houseboat, I love all the natural areas and wildlife here, I love the small community and all the friendly people. Portland is so far removed from so many of the people and places that I love." Exactly a year ago today, I was loading my car after having spent the winter in Portland. I thought to myself about my hometown, "This place is great. I love being so close to my family and my old friends, I love all the natural areas and wildlife here, I love the city I grew up in with all the familiar haunts. Friday Harbor is so far removed from so many of the people and places that I love." The first week spent in one of my two homes is always rough as I navigate the transition, and then I start to remember why I love it here, wherever here happens to be.

The essence of the month of March is transition, and these last 31 days have been a good time for me to reflect on the transitional season of spring. I've had practice saying goodbye to the trumpeter swans and bufflehead, the cold dark nights reading by the fire, the weekly gatherings to play hockey in the old fairground building - the symbols, for me, that embody winter on San Juan Island. I've tried not to get too sad as these staples of the chillier months melt away one by one. I'm realizing more and more that time, especially in the natural world, is cyclical. So these aren't permanent farewells, but rather a fond, "Have a great summer, I will see you next year."

My first Blue-eyed Mary of the season, seen in March

The holes left by these traits of the season of course don't remain empty for long. In place of the winter waterfowl and seabirds, I get to say hello to species like the violet-green swallow (year bird 139), not seen since last summer, and I know the arrivals of the warblers and flycatchers are just around the corner. Dark nights reading by the fire are replaced with warm afternoons reading on the west side of the island perched on one of my favorite rocks. The end of the hockey season coincides almost naturally with the beginning of the whale-watching season in inland waters. 

Variety, goes the other saying, is the spice of life. My goal is to try harder to embrace that concept, and do my best to enjoy this beautiful, tumultuous, unpredictable season that is spring.


Blue Heron said...

Just like to say once again how much I enjoy your writing and photography. You are lucky to live on the fringe. Have you seen Werner Herzog's film on the people who live in Antarctica? Think that you would enjoy it.

The K said...

Nicely written. Enjoy another loop around the Sun. You'll notice the passages more frequently as you get older.

Vera said...

Amazingly written! Wow!

Monika said...

Blue Heron - Thank you for your kind comments. I haven't seen that film - I'll look into it.

The K and Vera - Thanks :)