Friday, June 1, 2012
The Marvelous Gift of...well...
Do you know what household chore is my favorite? The one I actually enjoy doing?
You're going to think I'm crazy.
Poop patrol. Yes, you read that right. Walking around my yard, plastic bags in hand, looking for dog turds and scooping them up. When I was a kid, I HATED that chore. Ick! Well, after becoming a mom and changing I don't know how many thousands of dirty diapers and potty accidents, I got over that real quick. OK, it's not the actual picking up of the turds that I enjoy; and if I miss one and it ends up on the bottom of my shoe, I am VERY annoyed. It's the quiet solitude I love, the slow stroll around the yard; guilt-free because I'm actually doing something useful. I have to move slowly so as not to miss any (of course, I always do; if I were smart I would scoop it up as soon as it leaves my dog's butt and I wouldn't have that problem) and look carefully at the ground around me. I notice things I might not see otherwise.
The time of year doesn't matter all that much (although on really cold days the poop has a tendency to freeze to the ground, in which case I'm forced to abandon my task until a later time). In the winter I admire the frost on the ground and the way the dirt crystallizes into tiny little stalactites (or would that be stalagmites? I can never remember the difference). If I'm lucky I might see or hear a bird or two flitting around in the bare branches. Most likely there will be crows cawing to each other from the tops of the trees.
In the spring and summer I listen to the birds twittering and the wind whispering through the leaves, and admire the blooms on trees and shrubs.
The fall is trickier; if I don't stay on top of it the leaves tend to hide the "treasures" I'm supposed to be finding.
And I think when I'm searching for turds. (Sometimes I call it poop-caching--like geocaching for poop.) Joggers say they think best and work out their problems when they're running. I get into that zone when I'm making my way back and forth across my yard, eyes on the ground. Sometimes I pray. Occasionally I'll plug in my earbuds and listen to music, but usually I prefer to hear the nature sounds-- albeit against the constant buzz of traffic noise.
Yesterday there was a wood thrush singing right above my head. I don't know if you've ever heardthe song of a wood thrush; it's a beautiful melodic sound. Wood thrushes like to sit high up in the trees among the foliage, and they are difficult to spot; and when one is singing near you its song surrounds you and it's sometimes hard to pinpoint exactly where it's coming from. It seems to be coming from everywhere.
Even when one is singing off in the distance you can't help but stop and listen. No wonder it's my dad's favorite bird. When I worked at a summer camp I would wake up in the morning to their beautiful song, and go to sleep at night to the rhythmicsound of katydids. Ever since then, those have been my two favorite sounds of summer. (And ocean waves. That makes three. Oh, and when we were in Bermuda a few years back we were treated at night to the call of a tree frog that sounds like bells ringing. I would move to Bermuda just to get to hear that every night.)
I remember one friend telling me how much she enjoyed the walk around her yard, picking up her dog's poop, and how relaxing it was. When I realized that she wasn't joking, I felt...relieved. I must not be so crazy after all. So yesterday, as I scooped up droppings and deposited them into my plastic grocery bag, with the soft moss underneath my feet and the song of the thrush in my ears, I couldn't help but thank God for the gift of poop patrol.