Why Bother Living Peaceably With Our Neighbors?

Why Bother Living Peaceably With Your Neighbor? 

Every spring I anticipate the return of a pair of ospreys to their old nest located at the top of a tall pole near my house. From whence they come, I do not know. How they find their way back to the same nest is also a mystery. But since their home is in my neighborhood, like any good neighbor, I notice their comings and goings. 

From any of the south-facing windows of my house, I can observe these birds of prey as they work to add fresh sticks and seaweed to refurbish their weather-worn home they abandoned the previous fall. And though the air is filled with the sound of robins, and chickadees, I like the high pitched whistle like call of the osprey best of all. In the early mornings and late afternoons, I marvel at how the male bird brings home the supper, a fish for the female who sits vigilantly upon the eggs protecting them from any harm. In essence, Every spring I get to observe the routine of a pair of ospreys as they live their life in my neighborhood.

Unexpected Conflict

Last year, I noted on my calendar that the return of the osprey occurred on April 8. But this year, April 8, came and went with no sign of them. Instead, I watched as a pair of geese made the old osprey nest their home. 

Geese are plentiful in our area. From my writing roost on the second floor of our home, I often watch out my window as the geese land in the park nearby to meet up with their mates. Geese are so plentiful in our area that people find them to be more of a nuisance than a wonder of nature. For one thing, their scat litters our city beach and complaining tourists led city workers to attempt to get rid of them. First they purchased plastic coyotes to try and scare the geese away. But the geese didn’t even notice them. Then they discussed the idea of robbing the nests and discarding the eggs. Too many residents were outraged by that idea. Finally, they decided to round up the birds and relocate them. I literally ran into the fiasco on one of my early morning runs. It was an amusing sight to watch, kind of like herding cats or kindergartners.   

None-the-less, a pair of geese were making a home out of the osprey nest. I wondered how the goslings would learn to swim so high up in the air and quite a distance from the water. My husband made a good point when he said that they’d have to learn to fly before they swam. Still concerned for the osprey, I wondered where they were and what they would do when they returned to find their home already occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Goose?

I did not have to wait long. A few days later I noticed an osprey soaring above their old nest and swooping low as though he was going to land on top of the geese that occupied his home.  The osprey was aggressive and the geese ducked with every passing of the bird of prey. But the geese did not leave their nest. 

The next day was the same. The osprey attacked the geese by swooping in fast and low and once again the geese ducked, but did not give up their home. The third day, when I came home from work, I asked my husband, “Who won? The geese or the osprey?”

He pointed to a new pole. “The electric company planted a another pole with a box on top and the osprey moved in.”

What good neighbors we have, I thought. The electrical substation is in our neighborhood too and when they noted the trouble between the geese and osprey, they brought in their resources and restored the peace. Now Mr. and Mrs. Osprey live quietly beside their new neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Goose.

I think on Monday I will deliver some cookies to the guys at the electric company and tell them thank you for helping out. After all, that would be the neighborly thing to do.  

Why bother living peaceably with our neighbors? It is a lot better to live in peace than to live in contention. 



Why Bother Finding Your Own Space?

Why Bother Finding Your Own Space?

From an early age, I looked for quiet spaces. Growing up in a household with six siblings was a challenge for my personality. I liked quiet more than noise, order instead of chaos, and I was more at ease in my own company than in the company of others. 

Finding My Elbowroom

The first space I remember finding for myself was behind the couch in our living room. I happened upon it quite by accident. One afternoon, I crawled behind the sofa to look for a marble that had rolled away from me. Though I did not find the marble, I found something better. Empty space. A quiet place. The sounds of family noise dimmed as I lay down on the floor between the wall and couch. Just like that, everybody and everything disappeared. I’d made a delightful discovery and whenever possible, I’d scootch behind that couch. With just my pile of picture books in my lap, I went away to my own world of quiet and order. It was blissful.

About the time I turned into an eight-year-old, we moved into a larger home. Too big to crawl behind the couch, I now searched for a different space for myself. This time, I found a rather roomy closet where Mom stored extra blankets and sheets. Whenever I felt the need to close out the world and its noise, I’d go inside the closet. I’d close the door and lie down on the cedar chest stored against the back wall. Then I’d sigh with relief and fall asleep.

When we moved again, it was to a smaller house in the country. Finding my own spot became more of a problem. There were no roomy linen closets in this house. One day, while tromping through the fields that surrounded our house, I investigated the abandoned, old barn. Inside, I climbed a wooden ladder attached to one of the walls and heaved myself into the loft. The space was big, empty and  quiet. It became mine. Sitting on the floor, back against barn boards, I’d listen to the wind blowing through the gaps. On warmer days, I’d open the wide doors on either end and lie in the sunshine. The barn loft afforded me solitude and space, all to myself. 

This habit of seclusion and withdrawing followed me into marriage and motherhood.  Thankfully, my husband understands. Wherever we’ve lived, there has always been a room where I can close the doors and be alone. In our present home, my husband remodeled the attic space just for me. On one end of the room I can sit comfortably in my rocking chair to read and meditate. On the other end I can sit at my desk and write while looking out the window at the view. It is blissful. 

Why bother creating your own space. I know it is worth it to find a place where one can be alone. I think when we do, our heart, soul, mind and body settle down. At least for a little while.

Why Bother To Be Quiet?


Why Bother To Be Quiet?

There once was a popular song that often played on the radio of my mom’s Volkswagen, the car I’d borrow and drive around the city streets as a teenager. One of the lines from that song still sticks in my  head, “silence is golden.” But those words did not take on any meaning for me until I married a man of few words.

I’d grown up in a household with a lot of noise and not much silence unless everyone was asleep or Mom was mad at you. When angered, Mom went into silent mode. You never knew who had been the one to cross her since she’d apply the silent treatment to the whole household. She’d ignore all of us for a good while and we’d tip toe cautiously round her until she was no longer angry. Then she’d resume acting like her regular self, as though she’d never been upset in the first place. Her  behavior always left us feeling wobbly about our relationship with her. We never knew what we’d done wrong, so it was hard to know what we needed to do right. 

On the other hand, the way my brothers’ handled their anger was a much more productive method. One would wrestle the other to the ground and then pound on him until they apologized for their wrong doing. The offender then swore to never do it again. After that, there were no hard feelings lingering in the air. Unlike the silent treatment method that could last for days and make one wonder what they’d done wrong, wrestling and pounding on someone got the offense out in the open and an apology was always delivered.  

Silence Does Not Equate Anger

But with my husband, silence did not equate anger, which at first threw me off. His silence only meant that he had a different way of sorting through his thoughts. His way was quieter, something I was not used to, something I’d not seen while growing up. 

What had attracted me to my husband in the first place was his calm, quiet demeanor. He kept his cool all the time, never forcing anyone to apologize when they’d wronged him. But that same quality that had attracted me to him also caused some turmoil in our relationship until I learned how to talk less and listen more. 

Early in our marriage when I’d ask him a question, his answer never came quick enough to satisfy me. If I wanted an argument to clear the air, he’d refuse to argue. If I gave him the silent treatment, his silence outlasted mine. In exasperation, it finally dawned on me that I was the one who needed to change. If I wanted to hear him, I had to be quiet. If I valued his perspective, I had to give him ample time to share it. I had to let him process in his way; alone and quietly before hearing any answers from him.  Now I know that silence is golden. It does not signal anger or danger. It’s just the signal of a man, my husband, who is in the process of thinking things through, quietly and alone.

Why bother to be quiet? It is worth it to be quiet so that the ones who are otherwise silent can be heard.