Monday, April 04, 2016

Background Changes

After a mild winter with little snow, spring has thrown in an ice storm and two significant snowfalls. My husband was watching the bird feeders this weekend and commented on the Dark-eyed Juncos that were hopping on the snow-covered deck searching for seeds dropped by the messy finches. It was the first time he had noticed our winter visitors this season. They have been here since September, but without snow they blend into the branches and ground unlike our more colourful birds. With a white background, they are far more visible. 

Juncos come south in the winter and then vanish to northern nesting grounds when spring is well established. We visited the province of Newfoundland last July and saw nesting Juncos in Gander. Juncos hopped about on the sidewalks of downtown St. John’s just like House Sparrows do in southern Ontario. It was the first time I had seen them in the summertime. 

Personal relationships, careers, locale, retirement, illness, losses, conflict and political events can alter the background colour of our lives. Attitudes and behaviours that were not apparent in the past can stand out in times of transition. People can show admirable strength of character or demonstrate a lack coping skills when faced with background changes.

The age of social media, instant information and misinformation, excessive and often irrational opining, can bring confusion and anxiety. These words, published in 1859, apply today.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”  Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

My observations of nature reinforce the fact that change is cyclical and essential. The Juncos that are so outstanding today will leave over the next few weeks for their summer home. Seasonal background changes offer opportunity for learning and discovery. 

I am on the cusp of significant change as retirement from a full time career comes closer. It may happen in one year or ten, but it is on the horizon. The timing may be up to me or may be a decision made by others. I feel as uncertain as I did when deciding on a career path after high school. It is time for new goals and new learning on a new background. 


  1. I enjoy watching the birds.Juncos are an early springtime favourite. They fill the yard with cheerful twitter before many of the other birds return.I understand the unknown of change.Retirement is much closer for me than I might wish t was.Many think I should have already done so,but all in due time.

  2. "All in due time..." So true. We will know when the time is right :-)

  3. I have had so many birds at my feeder the last 2 days! Hardly any all winter, but I think the recent layer of snow has covered their food supply or something. Anyway I'm enjoying watching them, feasting, flighting one another and flying around twittering and gobbling up birdseed.

    Ah retirement. I've been retired for years and now I would like to go back. Don't know if I ever will. The younger ones with more energy are doing what I would have done and so I need to find something else. Or create something.

    You will know when the time is right. And hopefully can say good-by with happiness and looking forward to learning new things.

  4. YES YES YES--on change.
    Life is so much a cycle. From season to season. From year to year. From decade to decade. From century to century.
    As I watch the current debacle that is the election cycle in the U.S., I am so struck--don't you people know history? Neglect the needs of people at your own peril.

    Lovely post, Ruth.


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