Today, on the first official day of spring, I went with my dad and uncle and cousin—and Harley, Dexter, Nyx and Cedar—to go hunt birds. We left the city in the dark, weaving our way up the mountain as the sun gained steam, and set out a few hours later under a bright blue sky. To say it was a clear day does it a disservice: it was crystalline. Not too hot, not too cold. The air was crisp, the sun gentle. Around us the white shoulders of peaks broke up the flat line of horizon, and it felt as though I could reach out a finger and swipe it down the moutainside’s snow like icing on a cake. The dogs worked hard, and worked well together. We had two flushers and two pointers, and it took a minute for them to find the rhythm but once they did we were dialed. We left with birds in hand, the sun on our faces, a few good stories to tell. I will eat pheasant later this spring and summer and feel so grateful for the day we had.
I’m not sure why, but lately I’ve been seeing birds—more birds than normal, waves and waves of birds. You might think this unremarkable, but it’s been a lot of birds. All kinds: robins, thrush, crows, hawks, eagles. No herons though, my graceful friends (I see them very often). For awhile I thought it was just that thing where once you start noticing something, you see it everywhere. Like after I got glasses, I distinctly remember noticing all the other people who were wearing glasses too. It was all I could see, face after face bearing frames. But this feels different. It really does seem like there are more birds around.
It’s been a strange winter in Portland. I can’t quite get a grip on it. It was mild all through January, and then it was as if a switch flipped and we plunged into the depths of a terrible kind of cold. Not the cloudy, rainy gray we’re used to, but frigid blue and icy. It seems like once a week or so it will start to snow, sputtering out from what seconds before was a clear sky. It doesn’t last, the ground is still too warm for it to really amount to anything. But it feels odd to look out the window and notice snowflakes spinning crazily to earth, like I’ve been transported to a different country.
Since January I’ve been seeing a therapist, which I want to talk about because I don’t think it should be something that’s a stigmatized as it is. Here’s the thing: I mostly feel pretty good day to day, and though I do tend towards anxiety, overall I’ve handled it really well on my own. But I also know that there are days where my body and brain don’t line up, the lines get crossed, so I’ll spend all day with a pressure in my chest, the dread knot, and the feeling in my bones that something bad is happening and I need to get home right away, to hide. Or I’ll worry constantly someone is in my house, even when it’s clear there isn’t. It happens pretty rarely, but as this year began ramping up and I started anticipating all of the change coming my way, those days started to stack up a little more often than I liked. So now once a week I go talk for an hour about how I feel and why I might be feeling that way, and it’s been a really healthy practice for me. Not a super fun one, or an easy one, but a beneficial one.
Thursday was Valentine’s Day, which is a holiday I have famously mixed feelings about beginning with whether or not it should really even be a holiday at all. It seems, a little bit, like a scam. But my tender heart always seems to then take over and I think about how love—in all its forms—is worth celebrating. The world is generally a kind of dark place. Making time to stop and focus on big love and how it shows up in our lives is good thing, right? Granted, the cultural emphasis on hetero-monagamous relationships is problematic, but even that might be starting to shift. Brighter skies seem to be ahead for Valentine’s Day, at least in this writer’s view.