One of the great gifts of retirement is this new ability to tend to, complete or even officially abandon the numerous projects that I've taken on over the years. If my life were to be told through what I started but never complete, it would be a long and sorry litany of abandoned enthusiasms and neglected duties. The physical evidence of this surrounds me on a daily basis: the button waiting to be sewn; a saddle gathering dust on the stand while the horse loafs and gets fat in the pasture; cones of yarn piled on the table by an empty loom; tubs of jumbled photographs, journals and letters stacked in the garage (not sure what I'll ever to with them -- I don't seem to have any desire to ever look at them again, yet can't bear to throw them away. And what if -- despite the overwhelming reality check of cold logic -- I were to become famous? My diary as a sixteen-year-old angst-ridden teenage girl would be lost for the ages); a cheesemaking press in an upper cabinet that hasn't squeezed a cheese in years; an embarrassing, ever-growing stack of books that I bought but never read; the forlorn seed packets stowed in a tin on the gardening table, years past their printed expiration date. The list is endless and fills me with despair. I want to take a nap.
The napping is a fact of life, however, I'm also taking on, one-by-one, the tasks that surround me. To be honest, when I first retired, I generously gave myself a full year to get my life completely in order -- organized and humming. With only three months left, I now admit how unrealistic this timeline was. So I've adjusted it accordingly: I now have until my last day on this earth to complete everything (or not). And then I'll take a nap. A very long one.
Now that I've given myself additional time, I'm galvanized by a new energy. Which brings me to bluebirds. Twelve years ago, I found out about something called The California Bluebird Recovery Project, an effort to reestablish Western Bluebirds into their habitats by providing boxes for them to nest in. It involved not only mounting the boxes, but monitoring them as well (numbers of eggs, hatchlings, problems with predators/natural disasters and diseases) and then reporting the results. The citizen-scientist in me was enchanted with this project and I set up a bluebird trail of 17 boxes on our property and, for good measure, put up an additional 20 on the acreage of a nearby defunct goldmine. I kept this project going well for two years. The third year, I began to slip and by the fourth, I gave up and let it all go entirely. I never removed the nest boxes, so have spent a lot of years taking my walks around the property, trying not to look at the moldering, broken, falling-apart evidence of yet another project left by the wayside.
So last weekend, I shook myself awake and Bruce and I (plus the usual assortment of dogs and cats) worked to change that. We gathered up all of the nest boxes and began putting up new ones. Any project is more fun with Bruce and we all had a rollicking good time out in the springtime green and sunshine.
This time around, I'm keeping things small and we're limiting it to four boxes which I'm not even going to officially monitor. We'll see how this year goes -- perhaps next year we'll do more. However, even if I don't, this more modest endeavor leaves me feeling satisfied.
I'm good with this new perspective.