The Staring Season


I’ve mentioned before about my penchant for staring. It’s when I do my best thinking, and also, simultaneously, brain-blanking. I’d forgotten why I got into the habit of walking to a door or a window while waiting for water to boil, while brushing my teeth, while waiting for jam to set. It is because when you stare YOU ARE REWARDED. Especially during the staring season, which: IS NOW.


I haven’t slept in days, a combination of the ceaseless wind, over-exhaustion, late nights, and too much chardonnay on account of a week’s worth of celebrating the fact that I am now 36 years old. Last night I finally slept, and when I woke up at 3 to use the bathroom (does that mean I’m getting old?) I heard an owl outside my window.
Eric rolled over. “It’s an owl!” I whispered. “Did you hear it?” It hooted again.
“Whoo-who-hoo-hoo whoo-hoo-hoo?”
Eric didn’t stir. I don’t know how long I listened before I fell back to sleep.


This morning I was toasting my bread, in the oven. Because: that’s where we toast our bread. Once upon a time the toaster I’d had since college broke, and we never got another one, because: fear of committing to the wrong toaster. Also, it’s kind of nice to leave the oven door open after toasting said bread. Especially in the cool spring of the morning.

Our jam pantry is terrifyingly full for so late in the season. But still I wondered if we’d have enough strawberries this year to make jam to last us till June. Despite my concerns, in that very moment (while waiting for bread and while staring at the bramble where our black raspberries grow) I decided to knock the bramble down. It’s been growing more wild grapes, staghorn sumac, goldenrod, and thistle than it has black raspberries.

This is a gamble! But I’m a gambling gal (not really, I can’t even buy a new toaster).
What if we don’t get enough strawberries or mulberries? I’ll have cut down our last hope for jam. Our last hope for a terrifyingly full jam pantry in May of 2017. The horror.

I continued to have a berry existential crisis while staring out the window, when I saw a very large orange cat trotting through the treeline. I do not own a very large orange cat. But this very large cat was on a mission, heading straight toward the bramble. Me and this very large orange cat are simpatico.

As it approached, I realized it was not a cat at all. It was the most breathtakingly beautiful fox I’d ever seen, with a big bushy tail, slick pointed ears, and a full shiny coat. Rainbows ricocheted from whence it walked. It stopped behind the bramble and reemerged. Something was in its mouth. She sat behind the garden fence, just beyond the rhubarb. She looked at me with ears perked up. Then she trotted back into the woods.


Later while clearing out the black raspberries I discovered a rabbit burrow and it all made sense. She had some hungry pups. What have I done? No bramble>no rabbits>no foxes. And to boot, no raspberries. Gah!

I stopped to breathe and second-guess myself next to the towering lilacs. A hummingbird zoomed over my head, drinking their nectar for a few minutes while I admired his ruby collar. He helped me get over myself. There are other brambles.

The bluebirds are coming closer to the house, no longer so skittish about defending their boxes. The female orioles are trying to pull apart the jute coffee bags I use for my walkways and the yellow shafted flickers swoop in and out of the garden.

The season for staring is in FULL SWING.

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