Aging Out Loud

October 2017 Issue

By Marge Feuerstein / Mentor

In her column last month, Barbara Martinson, writing about the sights and smells of autumn, quoted a lovely line from the Song of Solomon. As I watch the gorgeous colored leaves float down past my window I am reminded of a song I heard Sinatra sing many years ago. “When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame, One hasn’t got time for the waiting game.” Oh how true! Now in my 80’s there are many things I no longer have time to wait for. Carpe diem. Seize the day now means more to me than ever. As we age we may not have the same energy or endurance we had in our youth, but there is still much joy left in engaging in life. One only needs to be aware of what is around them. The beauty of the sky at sunset, ripples on the surface of a calm lake, a butterfly flitting from flower to flower. And lately, eagles flying overhead. What a glorious sight! Music, always music, books and conversations with friends. Paddling my canoe or shooting a bow & arrow, the smell of a wood fire.

I am fully aware there are less years ahead of me than there are behind. When happy memories of past events come to mind I smile, while other thoughts bring tears to my eyes. But I choose not to dwell in the past. Staying young at heart is looking forward not backward. I look forward to engaging in life, seeing my grandchildren mature into compassionate adults and possibly seeing a great grandchild come into the world.

In the words of Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gentle into that good night. Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” I will not go gentle into that good night. I will savor every hour of every day, taking pleasure in the world around me—Hopefully until the very end.

Birds

 Special Summer Issue

By Barbara Martinsons / Contributor

Remember the time before we were teenagers? It was called “pre-adolescence.” {Freud called it latency, but that’s a different story} Now I find myself in a time I call “pre-old.” {Freud didn’t call it anything, but Jung did} While there are distinct signs of being past my prime, there are also signs that I’m entering another “late-onset” prime. I’d like to explore the experience in this column. If you would like to join me, please submit your reflection of 500 words or less to me at manorink@gmail.com

vow7It seems that “they’ve” changed the birds, or added new ones. I used to know the names of all of the birds who came to our feeders, and lots who didn’t. But now there are new kinds that I cannot name. There is also a new kind of squirrel.

“They” are the trees and air and grass — the outdoors. Or whoever provides birds. Having grown up a city kid, one of the ways that I fit myself into the outdoors, found ways not to be overwhelmed in the country, was by learning the names of things. A sycamore. A rosy breasted grosbeak. I took whole semesters on mosses and algaes in college. And got a tree identification book. Recognizing living things, being able to name them, helped me feel more at home. Especially birds, because they are so lovely.

Now that there are new ones, I find that I’m ok not knowing what they are. I have a perfectly good bird book — several in fact. And pretty good small binoculars. But it seems just as well to look at the birds, notice that I can’t name them, and enjoy them anyway. Too much trouble to look them up, and it seems not to matter as much as it did once.

This is less true with animals; yesterday, on my way to get the Sunday Times, I saw a short tailed weasel. I knew it was not a woodchuck, but that was as far as I got. My husband Larry looked up pictures of fishers, minks, weasels, each a possible creature around here. We realized it was a short tailed weasel. I wondered why weasels signify sneakiness? It was brown and sleek and appearing in the sunshine.

Is no longer wanting to name the birds a sign of withdrawal? Will other wild creatures become un-nameable in time? I think it is a sign of feeling fine about the outdoors even when I can’t name the parts. Also, not needing to know the names and watching them with undiminished pleasure is a gift I give myself. I forgive myself for not knowing and not needing to know.