Sunday, December 11, 2011

a covey for Christmas

The two halves of this year have been like polar opposites. For one half of 2011 I was a stay at home mom on a scenic rural Nevada ranch. I longed for a job and paycheck and a break from my reign as the queen of poo. For the second half of this year I have gone to work, doing the best I can, on this old mine dump that I was born to. And, while I enjoyed my break from the poo and ever so enjoy the small weekly direct deposit, there have been moments when I thought, "Really? Perhaps, this isn't what is best for everyone."

Life on a mine dump can be precarious. For sure it is a harsh climate, and so, it takes assimilation. Having been born to it, my learning curve is ahead of the others. I will admit my clan, is just now settling in as Christmas approaches. It has been moments of bundled joy cut in half by moments of complete disintegration.

I've been long off my blog game. The Wild Nevadan HjB website was derailed why I reassess the new situation. And the dancing tumbleweed blog is quiet because I'm both at a loss for words and photographs, and for time to kill. My work week means I hold tight to every moment with the poop factories, when I get them to myself. Ahem. Time isn't for the killing any more.

This year, I have so enjoyed unwrapping our Christmas ornaments. It is a constant in my inconsistent life. I struggle to maintain schedules and traditions, but those ornaments make me feel less like a freak, and more like a normal person. They make me think I am not a total hopeless case. And that I am not a completely different person than I was five years ago. And, I am not really just a gypsy soul who drags my covey of chuckar from mine dump to mine dump, with just a promise that we'll find grain.

No. I have managed to hang on to some things that are me and mine, and that hold precious space in my heart. There is at least one ornament that is 20 years old that have not lost or destroyed. It was given to me by my best friend when we were in elementary school.

Yesterday was the first day that all of the Christmas ornaments (besides the Nativity Scene) were out and on display. And, because this job of decorating was over, like a used car salesman, I tried to talk myself into the laundry. It did not happen. What did happen was this:

I fed the birds. I have been trying to attract a covey of chukar to my yard despite the gamble that all I will attract are pigeons. But, I miss the wildlife. And I see them scurry for cover all over this old air force housing complex, and so, I have been throwing out the uneaten rice and pasta and fruit and muffins.

Yesterday I watched a flock of tweety birds devour the leftovers, in between the dog and cat and kids going in and out the back door. Finally, after many trips to look out the glass I spotted a curious and cautious chukar on the road, with an eye on those other birds. I had to let the cat in just then and that fat little chukar quickly made his way down the road.

I was disheartened. I threw out the rotting bananas and made several more trips to the back door to spy out the window. Finally a small covey of chukar was eating. I counted six, then seven, then eight. That fat curious and cautious chuckar sat on a rock and watched me watch him. He had his eye on me in the window for every second that I stood there. Not knowing a whole lot about the social dynamics of chukar I imagined he was the daddy.

Funny how the experiences I've had in my own life will translate into what I think is going on in the world around me. In my own "covey" the daddy bird is always on point watching for danger and mine shafts. He is always so preoccupied by the welfare of the rest. I look careless next to his cautious, even though I am not.

I watched for a long time, resisting the need to photo journal it; knowing if I open the door, there they all go. So, let us just go ahead and admit that I will never get a clean, clear, crisp shot of a chuckar grazing on my mine dump.

I thought then of my Grammie, who used to feed the birds outside her house in Kingston. I thought of how she used to watch them, and get to know them over the years that she fed them. I thought about how she used to call her daughter and brag about the chukar.

For a moment, I felt like calling my Grammies daughter, my mother, and bragging about the chukar in my yard. Even though her phone went to voice mail, I still felt like I had accomplished something. It was a memory full of love instead of heartache. And, it could have been a covey of pigeons that visited, but it was not.

Perhaps my traditions aren't confined to boxes of Christmas things. Perhaps there are many constants in my inconsistent life.

Anyhow. A new year is on tap and I am eager to usher it in with its' companion possibilities. This old mining camp has been good to me so far. That score of familiar faces have been more than friendly, real or imagined. I feel as though I have rekindled old friendships and made some new. I have a sense of belonging here. And so, I have faith that I will find the groove to which I fit. Which is better than where I was before, when I was alone in my scenic wonderland ranch with nothing but time to kill.

If my kids and man and I made it down this last, long row to hoe, we will surely make it down the next.

It is a good place to be. At the end of row, ready to begin digging on the next. Ahem. Ready to usher out the year with Christmas tradition and usher in 2012 with anticipation. And hey, with a few "family" traditions inside my mind and a box of Christmas ornaments to pull out annually, I just might save myself heartache over what was, or is, or will be.

And, having just celebrated five years of marriage to my man, there is a sense of safety that I still have my "daddy" chukar, and that he is still both curious enough to check out uncharted territory to find us food; and cautious enough to keep an eagle eye on his covey, while we graze on the mine dump.

It is the season to celebrate things such as these.