by - January 02, 2015

Just before Christmas, I put out birdseed. When we returned home from Tennessee, the birds had discovered it, and they are now hanging out on the deck taking turns at the feeders. "Taking turns" may be a generous phrase for what really goes down. It's more of a crowd of feathers hopping back and forth from deck railing to feeder to chair to nearby tree. Some seem to wait off to the side for an opening, some make an opening. I don't refill the feeders in summer or autumn since it seems there is plenty for the birds to feed on (such as my garden), but after a few frosts, I feel sorry for them and put out food. For several winters now, we've been bird watching from our kitchen window and photographing the birds. It's become part of our family rhythm that's governed by the seasons.

Where I live, the four seasons are well defined. Sometimes summer heat bleeds over into fall, and sometimes winter chill hangs around a little too long, but there is a predictability that brings a measure of comfort. No matter which season is upon me, it's likely not going to run longer than twelve weeks. No matter how cherished a season is, by week twelve I'm ready to move on and bid it adieu.

As an adjunct professor I fall into the rhythm of living life in two sixteen-week blocks of time, which are bookended by hobbies, family visits and full days with the kids. By the twelfth week of a semester, I'm desperate for closure, as are my boys who shoulder the fallout of my stress. It's as if this academically constructed season is just a few weeks too long. My students seem to experience it too. The seasons transition and life throws wrenches without heeding the academic calendar.

Last spring semester was rough -- rougher than it has ever been -- and I'm anxiously looking out the window at the bare branches and brown grass hoping this season doesn't get the best of me again, and hoping someone remembers to fill up a feeder for me.

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