Monday, January 14, 2013

DISTRACTIONS


"How's the writing going?" my friendly editor asked.

"It would be going better," I said, "if there weren't so many distractions."

"Distractions?" she exclaimed. "It's the middle of winter! You live on a riverbank surrounded by nature. What could possibly be distracting?"

"Oh," I said vaguely, "you know how it is—there's always distracting stuff…."

I didn't tell her, but at that very moment one of those regular distractions was hunched on the nearby window-ledge giving me the doofus-eye between bites of pilfered sunflower seeds. Nor did I admit that, most of the time, the only way I'd been able to hold my train of thought sufficiently to manage our conversation, was to swivel the chair around and keep my back to the window.  

Yes, I am greatly blessed. I live in a lovely place; while the cottage is small, and in need of many repairs…the setting is idyllic. I am, as she put it, "surrounded by nature." And a lot of that "nature" wears fur or feathers and does all sorts of interesting things within ready view from my deskside window. Occasionally, it even comes a'callin'.

Like the fuzzy-eared varmint whose photo appears above. He or one of his brethren. They clamber up the stone exterior wall, hop over to the big seed feeder suspended under the eave and settle there chomping away at the free eats. Or alternately hang upside-down by their hind feet and swing back and forth as they stuff-and-chew.

Sometimes they fill their cheek pouch with seeds and come down to dine on the window-ledge—comfortably situated approximately three feet from my keyboard. A for-sure bushy-tailed distraction. And between bouts of gnawing at the stash of filched sunflower seeds, they'll regularly pause and stare inside—rather judgementally, I've decided, since their glare seems to criticize, as if they've caught me slacking off when I ought to be attending to my work. 

Well, I would be working if you weren't distracting me!

I try to keep my head down, attention fixed on the screen, ignoring my peripheral vision. The attention-demanding squirrel subsequently resorts to scratching and thumping and nosing at the window pane like a portly hayseed version of Poe's raven. 

From time to time I'll hear them make that low, guttural sound which is the squirrel version of a proprietary warning growl. Naturally, I'm compelled to look up. And I usually see the vocal threat had been issued because the seed horde currently claimed as the window-diner's territory, is being tested by an interloper scrounging their own meal.

Yup, distractions abound. I won't even get into birds and their antics. Nor mention the river and the things that go floating down or swimming up. Or discuss the play of sunlight on the sycamores. Falling rain or snow. Or simply the look of the seasons.

Nope. Take it from me, for us outdoor types, such a paradise can be distracting—wonderfully, constantly distracting. And a writer must make a choice—either become its hapless victim or an obliging, enthusiastic, and shameless devotee. 

No need to tell you where I stand…right?   

14 comments:

Wanda..... said...

Right! Completely understand the Nature of your situation!

Johanna said...

I'd tell you how much I can relate to that, but I'm busy watching 4 squirrels pick and eat hawthorn berries in the tree right outside my office window...

Grizz………… said...

Wanda…

Don't doubt it for a minute! You'd understand exactly.

George said...

No, Grizz, I doubt that any of us have any doubt as to where you stand, and pity those who don't stand in the same place. Your passion for nature is more than a hobby or distraction—it's a way of life, a choice if you will—and it always reminds me of my father as a younger man. My father was an alcoholic who didn't stop drinking until his early forties, and the thing that saved him, in my opinion, was the glory of nature. It was in nature that he found a conversation worth having. It was also the one place where he truly found a "home," a place where he discovered a profound sense of both being and belonging.

Grizz………… said...

Johanna…

I fully understand and would have posted your comment sooner but for a pileated woodpecker which affixed onto the side of a nearby hackberry tree and began screaming maniacally at a neighbor's cat—much to the would-be stalker's chagrin.

Grizz………… said...

George…

I've occasionally pondered whether such immersion in nature and the natural world is a retreat, refuge, or similar form of hiding out. After all, my other great life passions have been literature and the performance art of music—neither of which is commonly viewed as a personality trait generally found in those who'd rather wade backcountry trout streams and ramble around around in the backwoods. And yet the outdoors has run like a crystalline stream though my days, across every phase of my life, and I could no sooner give it up than I could forego breathing. Both would eventuate the same end. Aldo Leopold once said, “There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.” I certainly cannot. Whether it's a choice or coded into the DNA of who we are as individuals, I don't know…but I know for me it's been there always. A reason for my heart to continue beating. Like your father, I fit in here. I'm comfortable in my skin, at ease in my surroundings, at home. And no matter what I'm doing inside, the world beyond the walls and windows calls, whispering, cajoling, dividing my attention.

Gail said...

HEY GRIZZ
I "stand" or sir with you 9n nature's distractions - all welcomed, appreciated, inspired by, curious about, attentive to and respectful of. Yup, I stand (sit) by you on this.
Love Gail
peace.....

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

Hey, I do my best "standing" while seated, too. Thank you for your suport!

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

That is fun, and completely true!
Cheers from Cottage Country!

Grizz………… said...

Jennifer…

It is…both fun and true, though my more citified friends never quite understand how I can spend (waste) so much time watching birds and squirrels and looking at the sky and river.

Gail said...

I can't believe all my typos - I really should proof-read, eesh!

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

Yuh, I alwze pruf rede.

AfromTO said...

Oh and then there are those blogging comment distractions-we never let you rest.

Grizz………… said...

AfromTO…

Actually, blog comments aren't really a distraction—I'm hoping they'll come, like to answer them, and can always do so around whatever else I'm working on. Unlike the stuff that just comes flapping, scrambling, or appearing unexpectedly in view outside.