Easter Sunday is almost here, though it’s hard to imagine little kids crawling around on the soggy ground searching for eggs or candy treasures in their Sunday finest. It is still very chilly and rainy here in Southeast Michigan, but, at least the lawns are as green as cellophane Easter grass.
Linda and the Lenten Season.
Soon the Lenten season will end – did you follow through and abstain from what you promised to give up for forty days?
This year I have failed miserably and I must say it is the first and only time I did not follow through with my abstention intention like I have for decades and I am not pleased with myself at all.
Beginning when I was a little girl, my mom and I always gave up sweets for Lent. My father did not give up sweets, so Mom still baked, but we just abstained from eating any sweets. I think most people give up food for the Lenten period, making sure they load up on carbs, sweets or treats on Fat Tuesday. It was tough sometimes through the years, as either my mom’s birthday, or mine, would fall within that forty-day period, so birthday cake and ice cream just had to wait until Lent was over.
After my mom passed away in early 2010, I continued with the abstention from sweets during Lent, only I kicked it up a notch. In 2010, I decided to give up sweets forever. That seemed doable since I’m no baker, thus I wasn’t smelling baked goods that would lure me like a magnet to brownies, cookies or cake. I never got to eat much candy as a kid, so I never had a sweet tooth for chocolate bars or hard candy and I had to give up gum when I had braces on my teeth in my early 20s, thus I could live without gum as well. So, I was off and running on this no-sweets-or-treats regimen. I permitted myself very few indulgences, but I did decide that the cornbread I bought at the grocery store was not technically a sweet, nor was the honey I dribbled over it. That glass of chocolate milk I downed after a walk, was just brown milk – it was not like it was a chocolate milkshake! Thus, I permitted myself a wee bit of wiggle room. But that was it – I never had a single sweet treat for eight years until my friend Ann Marie brought me goodies in 2018.
Since I breezed through giving up sweets and treats, every year going forward I gave up something else that I liked to eat, both for the Lenten period, and then permanently. Some of those items included fried food, fast food, prepared food, salty snacks, white bread/rolls, flavored coffee creamer, cold cereal and red meat. Nope, not a single French fry or onion ring has touched these lips in many years, but admittedly, my meals sure were boring, since I denied myself almost everything tasty. I plodded along until last year when I decided I had to stop this madness, and just eat treats in moderation, though I still haven’t strayed back to the dark side with fried or fast food.
So, when Ash Wednesday rolled around on March 6th, I was perplexed what to give up this year. I racked my brain and finally decided to give up something I really like to do – grumbling. I rationalized that Spring was on the way soon (or so I thought), so my weather worries and groans would be minimal and how difficult could it really be to stop grumbling, complaining or whining for forty days?
Unfortunately, I blew it big time before the sun set on Ash Wednesday, and, just like on New Year’s Day when you set out with the very best of intentions for the soon-to-be–new-and-reformed-you, it is easy to set the bar too high and then fail miserably. That was the case for me. Every day during Lent, I’d wake up, bound and determined to follow through with nary a grumble or a grrr leaving my lips, but it just didn’t happen. Let’s face it, sometimes I’m a malcontent.
Next year, I’ll give up something tangible again – it shouldn’t be that difficult as I’m sure not perfect.
So what was I grumbling about today?
Well, when I opened the door to feed the porch pals, I saw a dark-and-gloomy-looking sky. Spring 2019 has been abysmal so far. The days are running together with this ever-present inclement weather, and this morning was no different … just another gray day smack dab in the middle of a string of rainy days. But, since there was nothing falling from those very dark clouds, I hurried to get ready to get out … even if I just hung out in the ‘hood, it was a chance to rack up some miles.
I went downstairs to get my coat, turned the basement light on and saw movement on the floor – OMG, a centipede that was big enough to go to work skittered across the brown runner, then disappeared under a piece of furniture. Yikes! Did he/she have friends? Now, it was “at large” in the basement. This is already the third centipede this year and more will be arriving with all this wet weather. I sprayed peppermint oil around upstairs, but why did I not do it downstairs as well? I took my coat from the hall tree, shook it wildly, turned it upside down, then inside out, hoping my multi-legged visitor had no relatives that had strayed to a coat sleeve, or a pocket. I wasted a good ten minutes before I put the coat on, then laced up my shoes and hurried out. I opened the storm door so quickly that it scared Grady who was hustling to the front porch for peanuts. That poor fur baby freaked out and ran the other way. “C’mon back here Grady!” I called. “I’m not going to hurt you!” But, he had already bolted for the backyard, up a tree and was looking down at me rather accusingly, i.e. the big, bad human who had spoiled his breakfast. (The fact that I had put those peanuts there to begin with did not seem to matter.)
The door slammed shut as I rounded the bend and surprised another guest, a plump robin that was so startled it dropped a long piece of plastic and some dried grass from its beak. My head immediately swiveled upward to the coach light where some serious nest-building had begun. Incensed, I shouted: “this will not happen this year – do you understand me?” I ranted and raved for a good five minutes, while that red-breasted bird sat on the split rail fence and watched me as if I’d lost my mind.
Perhaps I had.
I got a second wind from my tirade and lashed out again, telling that robin that if it wanted to make itself useful, I’d take it downstairs where it could seek out and destroy that centipede and have a meal on me. We stared at one another until finally the robin dropped its nest materials and went to look for worms, bored with my lecture.
I went into the garage to run the car, and ten minutes later I was ready for my walk. I stepped outside and while locking the door, it started to drizzle. Through droplets that landed on my eye glasses, I saw, then heard, the whir of wings as TWO robins blitzed by me. I looked up at the light – yup, the robin had brought a friend and more nest-fixin’s had been placed in the bend of the light. I have gone through this ordeal for years, even climbing up and filling that open cavity with a bag of styrofoam peanuts or crunched-up newspapers. But in the past, those robins were just as savvy as me. They used their bright-yellow beaks and pecked the bag until it fell out and landed in the garden, then proceeded to build the nest again.
So, do I just suck it up and live with this nest in the light? Or tear it down? Yes, I am a nature lover, but this is out front and it looks terrible! Through gritted teeth and with patience wearing thin, I threatened the pair, saying “go ahead, build that nest – I love mud and poop splats landing on my mailbox lid, or grass and twigs falling down on my head when I open the front door until your chicks leave the nest … well this chick will evict you like I did a few years ago!”
The solution? I’ll just print out and re-date my original 2013 eviction notice to the robins and have it ready to hang on the coach light because their nest no doubt will be finished when I go out tomorrow morning.
YOU ARE HEREBY EVICTED! This is an open letter to the Robin family who became the avian equivalent of DPs, or displaced persons, this morning. Please understand that I really like birds, and believe me when I say I am neither happy, nor proud, that I evicted you. I am sorry that my slate “Welcome” sign seemed to invite you to become permanent residents here, and that you mistakenly thought my coach light was something special, made for your needs and move-in ready. You built your nest in record time, but sadly, now that home is gone. I suppose you and your kin shall hold me in the same esteem that you did the last time I tore down a nest at the side door. Yup, Dad sat on the cyclone fence and chattered angrily and loudly while I dismantled the nest. And, yes, for two or three years after that, every morning when I watered my flowers, and picked a few weeds, or re-arranged the mulch, you went right out, while I was still there, and pecked pieces of mulch out of the garden and threw it over the rubber edging and onto the lawn. I appreciated that. Thank you. Yes, I know it was under the guise of “looking for worms” that you just grabbed the mulch and picked it out of my garden. Every time I went outside, you stalked me and gave me an evil look. But that nest dismantling was not an isolated incident. How many nests did I need to tear down on the front and side coach lights, eh? A dozen perhaps? And, I had to put bags stuffed with styrofoam peanuts and a pinwheel on the bend of each coach light to deter any more settling in. Finally, we both moved on and I threw the contraptions away and figured you and your kinfolk relocated to another neighborhood. Well, evidently you have a short memory because once again this morning what did I find? A large nest in my front coach light. And yes, I am guilty of evicting you on the spot, no eviction notice even tendered – out on your fractious feathered butt! I hope we have now reached an understanding. You will see that I had to put a large puffed-up bag in the coach light’s elbow in the front yard to deter a return visit. Lookin’ good in the neighborhood now! I do, however, have to admire your tenacity in building this remarkably made nest in record time. I went out to check the mail at 3:00 p.m. yesterday and there was no mail. The rains and storms began around 4:00 p.m. This morning I went outside to walk. I thought I’d check the mailbox to see if mail arrived after the last check. There were huge spots of dried mud on the lid. In the dried mud spots were large pieces of grass, weeds and tangled-up dried vines. The front door had similar mud spots and splats up and down the glass and dripping from the door. Of course I looked upward. I saw a fully-formed nest, about one foot in diameter, resting solidly on the elbow of the coach light. Yes, I knew it was a Robin, since I’ve obviously seen your calling card before. Yes, it was duly noted that two of you were watching me as I left on my walk, and again 3 ½ miles later, when I returned and rounded the corner, you were taking more nest fixin’s … perhaps you were adding on another room? I can’t deal with any of this and I am sorry. You were messy and it will not be tolerated. While I am angry with you, and you with me, I still marvel at how you modeled this durable home for your mate to lay eggs and sit up there. The mud that “glued” the nest together had not even dried yet. The nest lifted out with a small rake, was intact, and it was large and fully formed, anticipating the big event. Mercifully, there were no eggs in the nest. If I could have, I would have taken it somewhere else for you. I apologize for leaving the whole nest sitting in the dustpan momentarily in the driveway while I collected my thoughts on what to do next – I did not mean to taunt you. You looked at me with anger and hurt in your eyes. I felt somewhat humiliated and still do; I am not a mean-spirited person and the last thing I would ever do is harm a living creature. That is why I put your handiwork into a white plastic bag and took it to the end of the street to the alley.
Please don’t hate me – I feel badly enough.
And this is why I’ll never give up grumbling for Lent again.