Kay, a wildlife rehabber and friend, shares "Ladybug," a unicorn

Kay, a wildlife rehabber and friend, shares "Ladybug," a unicorn

Too much is happening around here, and I don’t want to wait ‘til April to muse about it. So, I’m doing my first “Midmonth Musing.” Spring has lots to say to me these days, and she’s chattering away at a fast clip.

From my bedroom window, which looks out at a still-bare Gingko tree, the spring birds are arriving. I hear calls I’m not familiar with, and see flashes of color I haven’t seen here before. I carry my bird book from window to window and try to match the colors, tails, and face markings to the photos in the book. The gold finches are turning brilliant yellow (how do they do that?!), putting on their mating plumage. A bluebird visited the Gingko tree, and robins have moved from town out to my forest lawn.

In the yard, daffodils are finally blooming. Other spears of new growth are poking up and I don’t recognize any of them. Ah, the joy and wonder of a new landscape in a new season! So much to learn! On the forest floor, shallow streams ribbon across the old shale and limestone beds that course through miles of deep leaf litter. Tiny waterfalls sing with the twittering tinkle of an eagle’s voice. I put my fingers to every new, fresh leaf and vine pushing up through the dense leaf mulch, which is probably pretty stupid as I’m told these woods are full of poison ivy—another plant I would not recognize…

A nurseryman identified the waxy, mottled leaf I showed him as a trillium. I gulp. There are thousands of them in the hollow below my house. He tells me they will bloom burgundy, and I feel my pulse quicken. What other magic lurks down there?

Already, only a few days into the season, I feel the energies—and the surprises—of spring rising up like sap in my veins. Spring ushers in an explosion of growth in the natural world, an energy we can feel by simply walking outside and looking down. All that green! Can’t you just feel the difference in your body and heart when you look down and see the first tiny bloom? How different from the bare look and feel of winter! That fresh feeling is the energetic heart and gift of this new season.

I have plans for spring, of course. Lots of them, dreamed up during the quiet days of winter. Already, none of them are working out as I’d imagined. This, too, is spring—dreams and plans that take on a life and path of their own.

I had planned, for instance, to recraft by hand the old, abandoned rock wall and tiny pond that is the joy of our property, even in its current state of collapse. I imagined how it would look, and what sort of work would be involved in bringing this treasure back to life. Now that the frosts and snows have done their work, I realize that the work is far more extensive than Carter and I had hoped. Part of the wall—all slices of crumbling shale, stand to collapse the upper ranges of the long-ago waterfall. Our wall will soon be a rock and mud heap.

A fun do-it-yerself project has now turned into an engineering event. With that, of course, come all kinds of unexpected new possibilities, right along with all kinds of unexpected new expenses. Ah, spring!

I had plans, of course, to celebrate the equinox in a good way. These included a ceremony with my medicine pipe, saying goodbye to the sirens of winter and hello to the sylphs of spring. Last month, however, I contracted a very long-lived flu that still has me dragging around weak as a kitten and croaking like a crow. Suddenly, smoking a pipe was no longer a good plan. In fact, raising my arms over my head was not a good idea, either. Stamina is not one of my gifts, ever since my cancer treatments. Any extra ailment at comes my way leaves me with chronic bouts of fatigue that can last for many, many months, fouling up my whole metabolic system.

So, my ceremony plan turned into a bout of guilt as I snuggled in bed, praying to have the energy to take a shower in the morning. Guilt. Another spring visitor perhaps not unique to me. Do you have huge spring dreams that get lost and trampled in the unexpected course of life? I have a frustrating habit of planning big and achieving small. My interior spring energy is NEVER as big as the vital pulse of spring in the natural world. Yet I want to have the power to shift landscapes!

So this year the equinox came and went without me. And my absence from the festivities didn’t seem to bother the planet at all. That’s true of a lot of things in my life. I am far more expendable than I imagine, which is both a relief and an ego smasher. You mean the world can turn without my help?

In January, we brought home our new puppy, MazelTov. It had been my plan that by spring, Mazel would be a smallish dog, social with everyone, and a relatively low-maintenance kind of guy, inasmuch as any dog can be low maintenance. He was such a little furry ball of not-much when he came home; it was easy for me to project all kinds of fantasies upon him.

MazelTov makes plans to hunt boar, eat guests, and drive wild cattle. It's all in a days work for a leopard dog.

MazelTov makes plans to hunt boar, eat guests, and drive wild cattle. It's all in a days work for a leopard dog.

At an Amish auction last week, a fellow looked at Mazel and asked me if I knew what kind of dog I had. Carter and I hadn’t a clue, we said. He had been abandoned as a two-week-old puppy. “Well,” said the bearded, pipe puffing young man, “You’ve got yourself a Catahoula Leopard Dog. I raise them. Nice looking pup there.”

I Googled “Catahoula” when I got home and this is what I read: “Catahoula leopards are the largest and most aggressive of the cattle dogs, bred to handle wild cattle and hogs in the roughest, most remote country…Catahoula Leopards are extremely agile and athletic, territorial, protective of “their property”. They are more primitive psychologically than most breeds and need consistent obedience reinforcement. The owner must understand the Alpha concept and stay in control at all times, but still be loving to the dog. Very loyal, loving, intelligent and independent… they really think for themselves…”

So much for my little low-key, agreeable tyke. Mazel is 11 weeks old now. His teeny tiny feet have grown to the size of tennis balls. He does not suffer strangers lightly. And we still have battles over housebreaking. Some days, he wins.

Again, with each failed “plan” another opportunity opens. I would never have mindfully selected such a breed. After Strongheart—my beloved Anatolian who could eat a man whole and tried to once or twice—I was wanting a dog with the temperament and aggression level of a small pet goat. Yet we adore MazelTov. Adore him. We beam over him like a grandchild, and are delighted with his feisty intelligence and his comic antics. He is one of those rare wonder dogs and we feel like the luckiest ducks in the world to have found him. I just have to re-hone my alpha skills… And I must admit, for his age, he does the best sit-stay I’ve ever seen.

I had planned, this spring, to have ‘possums and raccoons coming to my deck feeders, and we do have a regular ‘possum visitor we’ve named “Nine-thirty,” which is the usual time of his arrival. Twice now, Hannah as run out and scared him at the feeder, which is one more plan-gone-awry that I guilt myself over. Yes, Susan-the-animal-lover: Coax animals and birds to your deck so that when they come, your dog can attack them.

What I did not plan this spring was to have a unicorn show up at my birdfeeder. Who could plan for such a miracle? So imagine my surprise (an understatement) when I looked up one late night to find a unicorn in the guise of a flying squirrel sitting on the edge of the birdfeeder. Surely, anyone who sees one of these magical creatures would understand immediately that unicorns and flying squirrels are the same creatures, just in different clothes. Delicate, doe-eyed, sleek and quick and dressed in velvet.

I’ve pondered his recurring visitations for a couple of weeks now. How is it Nature held out this treasure to me in the woodsy palm of her hand? Me, who picked the “wrong” dog, ditched my equinox duties, won’t have the pond up in time for the frogs (I mean, where will they go??), and sets dogs on the innocent creatures on my deck. Spring giggles in the sound of the breeze, “Silly girl. Grace abounds, even for the guilt-riddled. Perhaps especially for the guilt-riddled. Here, just look at this jewel. I’ve put him on the feeder just for you. Now, quit imagining that the world turns on your silly little imagined failings and just relax and enjoy. You need more of that.

So, here is my question to you, kindred spirits: What have you been bashing yourself about lately? What didn’t go as planned? Let’s get a list going of all our terrible boo-boos. Putting the light on them can be—uh—illuminating!

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8 Responses to MID-MARCH MUSING

  1. Cindy says:

    Ah Susan…..you know how well I bashed myself recently. In my last post I talked about being knocked on my pa-tutty, having never seen it coming and thinking, “Now how could such a grounded, well balanced, SPIRITUAL person be in such an emotional mess”? HA! Well it has been a humbling few weeks to say the least. Never, never let the ego tell you that you must be able to handle all things all the time, even IF you are a “spiritual” person, don’t give in to that kind of spiritual tyranny. Profound teachings come out of “boo boo’s”, actually the best kind of gifts are being handed to us at the same moment we are experiencing devastation.

    I have made big plans each Spring too, just to sit in the middle of summer staring at my still un-whitewashed picket fence, or staring at the garden that got too big and out of control, watching some of my precious veggies go to waste because I was overwhelmed and didn’t have “time” to weed! The trick I play with myself now is to go ahead and dream big…..especially in the long winter days and nights, writing out all the plans I have, making my list long and satisfying. Then, I pour a cup of tea and have another look. I ask myself, seriously, “do you really want to do that”? I begin to pare it down to a manageable list. I do this at Christmastime too, my favorite way to eliminate the stress of the season.

    But my lessons these last few weeks taught me to be supremely gentle with myself. To move in small steps when I feel the need to, and without guilt, and to know that I can ask for help when I need it. I won’t be needing a spectacular garden this year, I like my weathered picket fence, it’s just like in a painting, and I see now the benefit in letting things fall apart, I mean really fall apart. And, to remember I have no control of anything but my reactions.

    Love your picture of that precious baby unicorn! A little miracle indeed, a perfect little adorable miracle! My time away in the “woods” last week brought me a beautiful great horned owl every evening, right outside the window. I would sit and listen to his plaintive “Who, who”….. I always like to think owls asks this question. I asked myself, just WHO do you think you are Cindy? The gentle answer that came was…..”I am enough”. No more beating myself up over anything, ever.

    Spring reminds me every year, thank Goddess, that everything will renew itself. I have been through the “winter of my discontent” and now I am ready to blossom, spread my roots and wiggle my toes in the earth.

    Another miracle, thanks to nature, animals and Spring!!


    • Susan McElroy says:

      Ah, yes, those old fences that never get painted! Our house’s old cedar siding was stained something close to the color of used motor oil way back heaven knows when. I’ve been wondering weather to paint it, restain it, reside it, and I realized this week that maybe if I let it go long enough it will turn gray-silver, which would be just fine by me! If vines didn’t wreck siding, I’d cover the whole thing up with grapes and ivy!

  2. kathey says:

    Hey Ladies, I am very happy to report that I don’t think that I have been heaping guilt onto myself so far this spring. And what a beautiful spring it is. I suffered illness for such a long time this past winter, almost three months worth, that I just gave up trying to control as much as possible, in exchange for peace, wellness, and the pleasure of simple challenges with little stress. So far it is working, and hopfully will continue. I have spent over 25 years now living on a lovely piece of land in view of the Blue Ridge. Have a productive veggie garden, wonderful perennial and medicinal herb gardens and as many shrubs and trees as I can care for singlehandedly. I don’t get adventurous with plans for my place anymore, knowing that living here much longer alone, being over 62, is too isolating and lonely. I have spent many wonderful years here and am now visiting thoughts of what will come next in my life. It can feel very daunting. And then I feel resentful that things will change…soon. I can choose to support this change or resist it.

  3. Karuna says:


    Amazing timing, as per usual! So apt for the present ‘situation’………….now to internalize the messages shared.

    Much Metta……………………………..Karuna

  4. Cindy says:

    Hello all…

    Been a little quiet here on the “Musings” front. Just wanted to say hello to everyone who might be stopping by soon. I was thinking of you all this last Saturday morning when I did my meditation. I’ve been watching closely all the beautiful buds opening up on the trees, the flowering trees are breathtaking as usual. Tonight though we are having a hard freeze! Oh those tender buds! How I wish I could surround them all with a big hug to keep them warm! I am so ready to plant all my beautiful baby basil plants I started indoors two months ago. I had the wild thought to plant them on Saturday, it was deceptively warm out and I thought….yes, maybe today. Then something said NO, wait! Glad I did. I would be crushed if I was to have lost all my basil tonight! The plants are tucked in and warm in my kitchen, awaiting just the right day to be bedded down in the herb garden…. where they will thrive and become summer pesto!

    Would love to hear from any and all in the crone sisterhood!


  5. kerry says:

    Hi Cindy, Susan, and Everyone,

    I’ve been out here thinking of the community as well. Came back on Monday from my third trip to California. It was so beautiful spring green this time, with flowers everywhere, and big beautiful blooms on the rose bushes. The large pastures such a fresh, intense green, studded with Black Angus cows grazing. I wished I could paint it. The snow is melting fast up here in the Yukon, but we’re still 5 weeks away from the first leaves peaking out on the trees. After 6 months and counting of snow-on-the-ground winter I’m usually desperate for green by the time April hits.

    Yesterday I passed by the headwaters of the Yukon River on my way to work, and saw the large expanse of open water that has come in the last 2 weeks since I was last here. It is time for the migrating birds to arrive at this spot on their way even further north. Thousands of birds will rest and feed here in the next few weeks, most notably the trumpeter and tundra swans. We have a viewing station to see the birds, with telescopes a discreet distance away, and biologists doing a daily bird count. They must have younger eyes than I do.

    I’ve started my cat Daisy on medication for hyperthyroidism, and am watching her carefully for signs of stress. Currently I think I may be experiencing the greater stress of the situation! I’m praying she absorbs the medicine well, and stabilizes.

    I’ve never left Farley-dog for as long as I did, and I missed him like crazy. He came home from my friends happy and perhaps a little fatter from the cheddar dog biscuits they gave him, and is just fine. Good to remember the next time.

    So I’m thrilled to be back in the company of my animals and watching the signs of spring finally move in. Hope all is well with everyone out there. I keep thinking of Denise and her mom, and hope they are holding steady. Happy Easter weekend everyone.


  6. Terry Cooper says:

    You are very fortunate to have found a Catahoula. They are wonderful dogs. Their ancestors came from South America and Mexico owned by the Incas and Mayans, and thought to have magical properties. Some migrated North and lived with the American Indians. These dogs were then mixed with Desoto’s war dogs.
    I have had dogs for all of my life, (58 years). All my dogs were mix breeds and most lived to be 17 or 18 years old. After the loss of my beloved Mona, (a Greyhound Lab mix) I was not sure I could go through the loss of another dog. I had decided that I would not look for another dog but if it was meant to be it would happen. Well 2 years ago Cloe (the Catahoula) happened and she is magnificent. She is the most loving, smart, funny, protective, intuitive Velcro dog, she is like having a dog and a half. Please don’t be scared off for these dogs are so worth the effort to teach them some manners. Good luck.

    • Susan McElroy says:

      Hi Terry: Yes, Mazel IS funny, smart as a dolphin, intuitive, and a velcro dog. He is also enchanted….some sort of small forest-warrior-fairy, I think!

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