On My Walk

Turkey VulturesOn my walk yesterday, I followed the brook trail by the Hall School. Then, as I was going along the road that crosses over the brook, I happened to look through the chain link fence to my left, and saw these huge birds resting in the underbrush near the brook.  They had not been visible from the trail–in fact I went back to see if I could get a closer look, and they were completely hidden.  Turkey vultures.  I had never seen them in the neighborhood before, but while watching for several minutes, another bird emerged–looking scruffy like a juvenile.  So maybe this was mama and papa’s protected home for raising their baby.

Turkey Vulture Juvenile

You never know what you’ll see in the little thickets and woods along the brook.  Further along my walk, I cross over another branch of the brook.  (My neighborhood is situated between two branches of flowing water that both feed into Capisic Brook.)  Stopping to see what I might see, I almost missed this tiny bird. I want to guess that it might be a black and white warbler–I saw one of those last year on the warbler walk at Evergreen.  But I am not sure.  Anyone?

Black & White Warbler?

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Trout Lilies

These lovely small flowers were near the trail on Capisic Brook. A couple days after I took this photo, I went on a Nature Walk at our Ferry Beach retreat and I asked the person who was leading us about this little yellow flower with the mottled green and brown leaves, and she suggested the identification. These are buds that haven’t fully opened yet. I am getting to know my new neighborhood.

Trout Lilies

Owl Life

Mama Owl

Today I took a walk to the ponds at Evergreen and started looking at the pines where the mother owl and her babies have been living.  Today I brought binoculars and our little camera.  I watched for a long time.  At first, I could see the mama owl from one spot on the opposite side of the pond, and I could see the vague outline of a baby at another spot across the pond. I went back and forth a few times. Then, while I was watching the mama, she moved around, and flew down to a spot lower than where she had been.  I was able to get this photo of her, but through the binoculars I could really see her eyes looking back at me.  Then, she flew back up to another spot behind the branches and I could no longer see her.

There were so many other magical signs of bird life today.  There were five baby geese. There was a male cardinal bringing seeds to a female cardinal.  There was some kind of yellow color warbler.  And then I saw a movement lower down the owl pine, and saw that there was the baby owl on a lower branch, hopping about, gradually making its way further up. Amazing once again that I was able to take its photo.  I think I am turning into a birder.

Baby Owl

Walking

Intertwined rootsI am feeling an paradox today.  I began this search for greener housing out of a desire to live more in harmony with all beings of earth.  It grew out of a deepening experience of our interconnection in an earth community.  Yet, the disruption and labor of moving from one place to another has chipped away at that felt sense of connection and I have been out of balance and spiritually exhausted.

What helps me to start finding my way back into balance are the walks I take most mornings near our new home.  I go out our back door, and then wander in our neighborhood, some days over to the Hall Trail near Capisic Brook, other days over to the trails at Evergreen Cemetery.  I’ve found a huge old grandmother tree a few blocks away, the oldest one I’ve seen so far.  Given the season and lack of leaves, I don’t even know what species it is, though I am wondering about Maple, since there are maple seeds on the ground nearby.

Old Grandmother Tree

Along my walks, the cardinals have been singing their most beautiful dawn songs, naming their territories and wooing their loves.  I am a tree person and a cardinal person and so I stop to put my hands on this tree, and I stop to listen to the cardinal songs, and try to catch a glimpse of them, usually bright and beautiful near the top branches.  There are cardinals in our own yard too.  So day by day, I hope to restore my strength, to reweave the threads that are torn and frayed from the move.

Cardinal at our new home

 

Watershed

Capisic Brook WatershedAdvice from Mona Polacca, one of the Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers: “Know your water.”  Living in the city of Portland, we have city water in our home, which comes from Sebago Lake before it is processed.  So we share a collective responsibility for keeping the water clean.  After being on a private well, it is a bit strange to get a bill for water, but it gives us a better consciousness of its careful use.  (Unfortunately, Portland treats its water with fluoride, which has been implicated as detrimental for thyroid health.  Something to explore for another day.)

But on a more local and personal level, I have been walking around the neighborhood, and discovered a trail near Hall School that goes along Capisic Brook.  We are now in the Capisic Brook watershed. How wonderful to be able to walk to the water!  And this is the water that all the run off from our roads and lawns enters. I found a sign alerting children and everyone to our watershed and the need to clean it up and protect it.  What a great neighborhood effort!

Watershed Sign

 

The Beautiful Backyard!

Our new backyard

Our new backyard (Listing Photo)

We are under contract! We looked at a house on Halloween, made an offer the next day, and last night signed the Purchase and Sale agreement with the sellers. It has a beautiful backyard!  It is in Portland, just a 13 minute walk to the Evergreen Cemetery Trail, a 17 minute walk to a bus line, and a 51 minute walk to the house of one of our friends! (I love the “walk and bus” feature of Google Maps) And did I mention it has a great backyard? It is .43 acres, and resonates so deeply with our desire to be in the city, but also connected to nature. I am already imagining what a great permaculture design we will create for this land.

As we have looked at houses during the last three months, we’ve come to better realize what was most important to us in our search for greener housing, and what we could let go. We realized that location and connection to nature were vital.  This place feels just wonderful in that regard.

The house itself is a very simple and well maintained ranch style. It is on the small end of the range we’ve considered–just 1025 square feet of one level living.  We hesitated a bit on that–could we really downsize enough to live in half the square feet of our current house?  But isn’t that just what we are trying to do in this journey?  Reverse course from the bigger-is-better mentality?  (And luckily, it also has a partly finished basement that will offer extra space as we make this transition, and offer room for guests and projects, and probably lots of boxes.)

As I look back at our list of hoped-for features, there is no laundry on the first floor (that is in the basement) and no mud-room.  We also need to convert the garage door from a one-car to a two-car–the garage is wide enough, but has been used as one bay and storage. We hope to add a couple more windows toward the back yard to let in more light and create a better interior connection to the beautiful back yard. But everything else lines up. It has a fairly south facing roof for solar, seems like an easy layout to add air-source heat pumps, and has a wood stove insert in a fireplace.  It has wood or tile floors throughout, and a feeling of peace and beauty. You sense that it has been crafted with care.

I am feeling a deep sense of joy this morning.  I want to say one more thing about this part of the journey, though, something that I learned yesterday, when I was caught in the exhausting anxiety of the offer/counter-offer real estate process.  I often feel guilty about feeling anxiety–like I should be more peaceful and trusting if I am flowing in the River of Life. But lately I have been reading about how being present to the moment is being present to all that emerges.

So I took some quiet time to be open to the anxiety as well, to pay attention to it. When I did that, there was a deep intuitive feeling that told me–act now! Margy and I talked, and we told our realtor we wanted to accept their counter-offer, even though we still agreed it was a bit over-priced. My intuition seemed to be saying, there will be other parties interested in this house, and you must act now for it to come to you. So I trusted my anxiety this time, and here we are–ready to continue on the next chapter of our search for greener housing!