Do you remember that song? Watch the new video at the end of this post. How many of the people do you recognize?
Before I move on to other topics, I must follow up my last post with Kare 11’s video of Greenie and me for posterity and those who missed it on TV. I also want to thank, again, Boyd Huppert and Chad Nelson for the incredible job they did recording and writing the story. I’m still flabbergasted at the response – thousands of reactions, shares, and re-publications around the country and even overseas – and hundreds of comments. All of this attests to the exceptional sensitivity and skill of Chad and Boyd. Here are just a few samples of the comments flooding in. There were even a few who had known of similar friendships. Maybe you can have one, too!
I am so unbelievably moved by this, that it has brought me to tears. . . . So lovely that your special friendship with Greenie is seen as newsworthy. . . . In the midst of so much bad news, it’s great to see this bright spot. . . .This story made me smile today! . . . It certainly changed my perspective about fish. . . They handled the subject very respectfully. Hooray. . . .What a happy, uplifting story. . . .Your poem was especially poignant! . . . this made my day . . . Awesome story . . . A joyful, calming, and heartwarming story . . . Loved it. . . It was so touching . . . This is soooo sweet! . . . So fun! . . . Adorable! . . . Very precious and inspiring . . . I am a believer! . . . So cool! . . . Incredible! . . . a marvel! . . . Beautiful fish. . . . This gives new meaning to the words “fish story” . . . Wonderful story. LOVED it!!! . . .This has been the most touching story of 2020.
Clearly, we are hungry for positivity. For gentleness, friendship, respect, trust, sweetness. I will definitely continue to tune in to KARE 11 for more inspiring stories from Boyd and Chad.
And I will definitely vote early and blue – not only for the environmental protections that you and I and all our animal friends desperately need – but also for civility. For the calm, honest, respectful connections that even a fish is capable of, but that some in our country have abandoned.
As Christmas approaches, I’m always aware that holidays bring joy to many, but loneliness to many others. I recall, some years back, returning to work and to the well-meaning question, “How was your Christmas?” and answering, “Great . . . due to lowered expectations.” It was the most honest answer I could give, and I always hoped it would be taken for what it was— not a complaint, but a key to happiness. With the media and stores and Hallmark movies pumping up our hopes, it’s good to remember that few holidays can measure up to the hype.
I am fortunate to regularly
get together with friends from college, a thoughtful group of people who met
through the U YMCA 50 years ago and still feel connected. One evening our topic
of conversation was loneliness. It surprised me that I, the one in the group
without a partner or kids, was the one who never minds being alone, even on
holidays. I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I felt lonely, and wasn’t
sure why. Our friend and mentor, Doug Wallace, suggested a reason that seemed
to ring true. My connection to nature provides me with friends, even when my
human ones are not around.
If you’ve read my blogs or
book, you know of some of my extraordinary relationships. Sunny the half-wild
mustang, Teddy the yellow lab, the beloved cats whom I’ve rescued who rescue me
back, the geese who bring their goslings, and Greenie and Spot, my sunfish
friends. Of course, none of these provide the life-long love of the human
partner that so many long for during the romance of star-dusted holidays. But
they come unexpectedly and without expectations, bringing moments or years of
comfort and joy, if only we will open our eyes and hearts to their wonder.
As I write this, I can peek
out my kitchen window and see my friend Red. Dressed in the color of Christmas,
this cardinal has returned for the second winter to bless me by sleeping in the
grapevine under the eaves night after cold night. I used to feel bad when I’d
return home in the evening and scare him off. But he seems to know me now, and
stays hunkered down, even when I talk to him softly.
Everyone loves cardinals,
but could a bat be a friend? Of course. I had one who slept behind the cast
iron pan hanging on my house for nine summers. If I was lucky, I’d catch him
waking up and stretching before taking off for his evening of mosquito control.
Spring brings nests, and
birds large and small. Some are lost to predators—food in the circle of life.
Others survive to fill our trees with song. These migrants remind us that friends
come and go as they travel their own paths, resting with us on their long
flights. Will I ever be able to recognize one bird from another? Perhaps not,
but then, I didn’t expect to be able to know Greenie and Spot from the other
fish in the lake. Will they survive under the ice and greet me in the spring? I
pray so, but only time will tell.
Perhaps having wild friends
has taught me to live in the present. To stop and make eye contact with another
living being every chance I get. To appreciate every time a creature trusts me.
To know that every relationship is temporary, and precious.
And to give every soul a
chance to surprise me with its magnificence. When a golden orb weaver began to
work her magic above my kitchen sink, I had to watch. She reminded me of my
mother, with patience and skill, taking stitch after perfect stitch on one of
her beautiful quilts. If my cat Leo or I accidentally destroyed her
masterpiece, she’d eat the remains and recycle the silk into another. Soon I
realized why she put up with our interference—the compost box provided her with
fruit flies—and she kept my kitchen free of them. With trial and error, she
learned to reposition her splendid web so that I could move faucet and dishes
without disturbing her. Yes, we had a partnership.
It wasn’t long before I started calling her Ruth, as her tenacity and calm, quiet skill reminded me of the Notorious RBG. Yet I once saw her ferocity. A daddy-long-legs walked across her web and tackled her! I gasped as a flurry of 16 legs tumbled together. But in seconds the daddy returned to his corner, leaving me watching, wondering if Ruth was injured. She was still for a long time, but recovered the next day and went back to work. Whew. Who’d a thunk I could care about a spider, but how could I not? She kept me fascinated for a month, while I pondered–did I really want her there all winter? Dare I put her outside now that it was cold? I looked up the life cycle of golden orb weavers and found they died in the fall, after laying a nest of eggs. Hmm. Charlotte’s Web was in a barn, but did I really want Ruth’s children in my kitchen? She made a small sack in a corner, but nothing ever emerged. I watched carefully as Ruth eventually became still, then disappeared. But I’ll never forget the magnificence of her persistence and silken creations. As I watched her making her final web, I couldn’t help but feel something of her magic. She spun her silvery silk, finer than any tinsel and stronger than any steel. The rhythm of her dance was as true as the little drummer boy’s beat. A simple yet profound miracle of creation. Ruth showed me a magic not unlike the magic of Christmas, because she made me feel . . . love.
Then there are the ones I see only briefly, but am lucky enough to capture with my camera, allowing me to share the magic with you. I hope you feel some of the joy I felt when this buck gifted me with this image, and later with the words that seemed to flow from that night and become reality on solstice. Love from the buck and the night sky and my heart to yours, this Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year, and always. Holly