Walking about in this mild Friday’s pre-darkess listening to the versatile cardinal sing his songs, I am reminded once again of just how lucky I am – how lucky we all are. I also heard the pileated woodpecker try his hand at some bug infested bark in the outback several times. I watched the red breasted grosbeak and a male humming bird visiting new feeders – always satisfying.

I was about to bring in a feeder that we can’t leave out because of the raccoon’s nocturnal proclivities, but decided to leave it until real dark for the benefit of the late feeders who seem to be more active than usual during this nesting season – their feeding schedules being a little skewed with all that love-making and pillow fluffing, I suppose. I am certainly in no hurry.

That’s funny: the less time I have it seems the less I hurry. What’s that all about?

It’s dark now so I’ll go and remove from temptation that feeder that seems to be so fascinating to our masked night visitor.

I shudder when I think that on mid-December evenings by this time it will have been absolutely dark at least four hours. I think that in consideration of those dreary thoughts, and it being the weekend and all, I’ll lay on another dollop of something over the ice left that is left in my glass.

Rest well my feathered friends. Bring on that new generation which always, without fail, mirrors the last. I love that part. Thank you for your predictability. God knows we humans would love a touch of that in our progeny.

And as for you, you masked bandit, were it not for the fact that you remind me of a distant relative who had similar leanings, I’d blow your ass away. Count your blessings.

We are having the house painted. Condensed in those six words is a 5000 word essay, which anyone who has ever had a house painted could write. It’s pretty much what life is all about for a week or ten days, depending on the size and complexity of the house. This house excels in both size and complexity.

The whole time this is going on this thought is rumbling around in my head: I wonder how long until this has to be done again? It is, after all, a kind of domestic cosmetology. The house won’t be more comfortable, roomy or livable, but it will look better – – for a while.

The minute we left the cave for freestanding houses we had to consider what the outside would be and what it would look like. It was more or less dependent on what was there. Stone was good and available in some areas and you can see some of those walls still standing after as much as a thousand years! There is straw or thatch and even mud that is in use today in some places in the world. My neighbor built a white cedar log house that won’t have to be painted and it looks great. Metal or plastic siding that looks like clapboard is popular and does not need refinishing every few years.

I have to admit it: I like paint. Painting something is a hands-on activity that yields immediate results that you can see. It gives a level of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment that few activities do. I’m talking about a shelf or small table or bench. If it involves a ladder I call someone. There are ladders all over this place as I write.

I recently visited the Olsen House out at Cushing. There is no evidence that paint or stain has ever been applied to that structure. It has that farmhouse kind of character. It looks weathered but beautiful in it’s own way. It’s a deep kind of beauty. No paint but beautiful? I can think of dozens of applications where that principle could be used, and I’m not just talking about houses.

The High Park fire just west of Ft. Collins, Colorado, has been in every news cast for a week.  An old friend of mine who used to live in So. Bristol, now lives there as well as her mother, her daughter, and her family.  I have, of course, been in contact with her and receiving almost daily updates on the progress of the blaze and how it is affecting life in the midst of and on the margins of that disaster.

When I opened my eyes this morning the first thing I thought of was the email I got late last night from Anne, my friend, telling me that her daughter’s home, located in the foothills of the front range west of town, was still standing,  For several days now, the fire had been moving relentlessly toward settled areas around Bellvue, the town between the mountains and Ft. Collins.  No one had been able to get up the road to check on the structures because it is literally on fire.  Finally one of the fire fighters who also lived in that area was able to check on the houses and found them untouched so far but with the terrain around them scorched.

Anne has a friend from Bellvue staying with her in “refugee” status along with her dogs.  Anne’s former house which is in the process of being sold, is also in Bellvue and in a potential path of the fire storm should the wind shift.  Tension has been high for days now and exhaustion has become the lingua franca of the region.

Doris, the woman staying with Anne, suggested, upon hearing the good news, that she take them out to dinner and try out a new restaurant in town that has had some good reviews.  When they got there they found the dining room full.  The following is a cut and paste of what Anne wrote about that.  

Got there and the place was jammed and the waitress asked if we’d eat outside (yes we would) and were we evacuated from the fire? Doris told the waitress that she’d been evacuated and she and her dogs were staying with me which is why she was taking me out to dinner.

We were seated outside and given a short menu for evacuees. The menu stated that the dessert was donated from one shop; the salads from another; the fish from another. We had a fabulous meal and Doris whipped out her credit card and our waiter said no, it was free. Even Doris’s glass of wine!!  He wouldn’t even take a tip! We both cried.

I have lived in areas frequented by killer hurricanes, tornados, floods and mosquitoes.  Never felt threatened by fire.  I am sincerely not being boastful, just thankful.  So the next time you hear me complain about the cold, black flies or mud, just tell me to shut up and count my blessings.