I do. It’s embarrassing to admit how much coaxing it takes to get me outside sometimes. Occasionally, I have good reasons, but too often I let myself watch cat videos on the internet for hours, or sleep until the bright morning fades, rather than pull on a pair of boots and open the front door.
It almost happened again this weekend. I just got home Sunday afternoon from a trip to Thailand*. After a day of plane travel, and an overnight stay at Hotel Spare Bedroom because the snow-buried roads on Long Island were impassible, staying still seemed like the best idea I’d ever had. That first big snowfall, possibly our last, lay fresh and deep. Instead of a beckoning invitation, I imagined what 30 inch snowdrifts would do to my tired legs, compared to the luxury of my warm, dry apartment. But rain was forecast to wash it all away Monday, and I love good snow more than just about any other weather. Stay or go?
My better angels won out in the end. From my window, I watched the warm 3 o’clock sun cast long blue tree shadows across the snow banks. Sometimes, good light works the charm. I pulled on my snow boots. Better to hike hard for the last hours of daylight than to spend the year holding a grudge against my lazy bones.
Once I stepped out of my car, the fresh air and sunshine obliterated my jet lag. The snow was deep and powdery, but snow shoers, cross country skiers, and a rebel four-wheeler had broken the trail earlier in the day. Snow clung to the tree trunks, hung on the bark by the blizzard winds, and shouts and giggles from the sledding hills rang through the woods. My heart was glad I’d come.
My ears must have still been full of Bangkok traffic and roaring plane engines though, because it took a while for another sound to register over the swish and crunch of my snowsuit. A low, throaty note cut through the noise in my head like the bass pipes of an organ. And then it repeated itself, a familiar, musical phrase I’d grown up with, but never heard in the woods.
Hoo. Hoo. Hoo-hoo.
Great-horned owls are hard to find on Long Island. I know they’re here, but their territories are so large (tens of square miles), and their camouflage so perfect, that the odds on spotting one on any given outing are small. It’s luck, plus being at the right place at the right time, plus being out often enough to beat the poor odds. I got very lucky. It’s courtship season in owl world, and this owl was making herself known.
The sun was setting, and it took a long time, and many hoots, for me to triangulate her stand of pine trees, and then the individual tree, and finally her perch. But there she was, blinking her yellow eyes, posing in a sunbeam.
I wasn’t carrying the right lens to get a good picture, but through my more-powerful binoculars, I watched her lean into her hoots like a fog buoy into the swell, stretch her wings, ruffle her powder-soft feathers, and then flap gently to another tree. From a new branch, she broadcast her invitation to the woods again, and this time, another owl answered.
Time and again, I end up talking myself into staying put, even though I never, ever, ever regret going out. I have a collection of memories that should guarantee I never miss a chance, times when I almost didn’t go out, but did, and was amazed – the afternoon I ran past a huge black racer snake; the morning I watched the sun rise; the evening I found the hoot owl. Too often, my inertia overcomes my ambition, and it’s time I change that.
How about you, Dear Reader? Do you ever procrastinate doing things you love? Do you have any tips that help you beat the apathy? I need all the help I can get digging my butt out of this nice, comfy couch.
* Thailand recap and photos coming soon, I hope. There’s a lot to process!