The Sunday Nature Call, Uke 20; Squirrel!

A happy mistake, thank you Bob Ross. In reviewing my bird list I noticed an absence, the ubiquitous Kråke. The Kråke could be mistaken for the official bird of Norway, he’s everywhere and pretty darn smart. After my revelation, I first re-noticed him on the grounds at Constitution Hall in Eidsvoll. It must have been a sign.

New birds:2, Journey to date: 70

Steinskvett (Oenanthe oenanthe)

Kråke (Corvus corone cornix)



The auburn hair was gorgeous on the green backdrop. Alas, I was too slow to steal the vision with a click of my camera, that is a sight I will commit to memory. As my subject tried to hide behind a screen of spruce branches I waited. Which means I started thinking. And I thought about the pretty white flowers I had just passed. I tried to console myself for not taking pictures of the flowers. “Maybe I’ll see some more further on,” I thought.IMG_1543

And then it hit me, I could just do that now. So, I backtracked up the hill to the flowering bushes, I gave myself permission. That’s a common issue for me, it always has been: permission to deviate from the path, literally or figuratively. Something tells me that you have also struggled with that a time or too. Human, aren’t we all.

The distances of the walls in the apartment were shrinking and the ceiling was dropping. I was feeling pressure, distress, and a swelling anxiety. My mind was flipping between topics and emotions. In our house we use “Squirrel!” as an expression for when someone is jumping between topics, perseverating, or explosively distracted. I was under attack.

The internet wasn’t helping, it never does. In fact, I think the internet just makes my feelings of dread worse. It’s not even all the bad news I consume in my steady diet of journalism from around the world. I think a key source of anxiety from using the internet is that the internet has no end. There’s always one more link to click or site to visit. The refresh button dangles the lure of an update. For me to escape it’s best to go to the woods.

The woods on this day were dampened and lush. The uncharacteristic dry spell finally ended, I really was missing the rain. Drops from the sky and drops from the trees helped to muffle the noise of a capital city. I was getting wet but I wouldn’t call it rain. No, after all this time in Norway, I limit my descriptions of rain to firehose events.

Of course I was looking for a new bird but this jaunt was more about just getting out and clearing my mind than tracking down a new feathered friend. To just walk, slowly and quietly, and see what I could see, that was the goal.

And what did I see? Many old friends, birds and trees that have become part of my landscape. I saw signs of beavers, rather ambitious gnawing on large trees at the Lysaker river near Røa. I saw Spanish Slugs oozing across the trails and paths. And when I didn’t see them I heard and felt them from under my shoe. Ick is right!

The auburn beauty was a squirrel. They were so hard to come by last summer and fall, now IMG_1553every walk in the woods is graced with their presence. It’s true, they are cute little buggers. In Iowa I would try to eat them, here they are fun to look at. Context matters.

Besides the rich color, these squirrels have tufted ears. The prominent ears suggest a greater intellect than I know they have when they are watching me with those black eyes. I stared back, they don’t like that.

IMG_1561Across the river and out of the woods at the Røa soccer pitch, more light, more flowers. Two species I see in Oslo are dreaded invaders in Iowa: dandelion and garlic mustard. I am so well trained to hate them it’s hard to accept the plants even in their native spaces. More context.

I got home to an empty apartment, just before boy number two. I felt better. Better is good, I’ll always take better as I’ve surrendered to ever being cured. This is where I should add a pithy quote from Calvin Rutstrum. Instead, I’ll let you read him and find one for yourself.

Looking up, looking ahead, and keeping my pencil sharp.


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