“Top of the morning to ye, Irish blood or no!”
Here’s to finding that pot o’ gold at the end of your rainbow….and if you’re lucky, a bit o’ shenanigans, too.
(Thanks, Donna, for giving our pinniped pal this dash of Irish charm.)
“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful.
They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness —
Just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breathe it;
Just warmth and shelter and home folks;
Just plain food that gives us strength;
The bright sunshine on a cold day;
And a cool breeze when the day is warm.”
(Words of wisdom by Laura Ingalls Wilder, photographs from my grateful heart.)
Freckles Jr. is learning the ways of the harbor seal, thanks to the leader of our pinniped pod, Freckles Sr.
He guides his son onto the rocks, navigating choppy waves and smooth. Lift your tail, tuck your fins! he seems to say, Let me show you how it’s done.
They stick close to one another, perfecting their synchronized swimming routines…
…and simultaneous snoozing.
Bull and pup, together in nature’s classroom.
Watching from afar? Pure joy! But I have to confess: I got a bit misty-eyed when I saw through my camera lens this moment of unguarded intimacy.
The circle of life, spindle-shaped and freckled, was playing out before my very eyes.
A flock of crows circled overhead this morning –a sinister gathering of dark-winged forces that broke my backyard reverie.
“Nevermore,” they rasped.
“Nevermore,” the canyon echoed.
“No more,” I whispered, and hurried inside.
Friday the 13th. It’s a fretful date for many, steeped in a brew pot of superstitions and ominous warnings.
But not Freckles. I mean, c’mon! Sunny skies overhead and a bellyful of herring…who wouldn’t be reveling in their good fortune?
Life isn’t perfect, of course. Tsunamis hit and storm clouds threaten. But if anyone can teach us how to turn an inauspicious day toward the good, it’s Freckles. He just goes with the flow, our pinniped pal, and so can we.
#FrecklesFriday is a relatively new blog feature, here at Joyful Noise. Let me know what you think! (If you want to see the first few entries, click here.)
This is the face of a woman who shows the world her best side: friendly, confident, brave. Even when her insides are wracked by nausea. Even when her legs feel Gumby-ish and her ch-ch-ch-cherry-bomb shoes are cushioning the stabby pains of neuropathy. Even when her hair’s gone missing, and her puffy cheeks bear silent witness to the cumulative effects of cancer-fighting pharmaceuticals.
This is the face of my friend Donna–a woman who’s fighting cancer with every fiber of her being, and who challenges every stereotype you might have about that battle. Peek behind her mirrored sunglasses, and you’ll see the fierce look of determination in this warrior woman’s eyes.
Donna’s the pinniped-loving member of my posse. You might remember her from previous blog entries, including the one where she advised Secretary Clinton to “Let yourself be great!” She’s not one to ask many favors, but she’ll always support your dreams.
This is the point where Donna’s chemo buddy enters the story. Had you already noticed the woman in blue, with the beaming smile and sunny yellow laces? That’s Marilyn. An inspiring woman in her own right, she’s been waging war against cancer for more than two years now. If you’d asked me beforehand, there’s no way I could’ve predicted what they’d accomplish together in Boston, last Sunday.
The sun was strong and the humidity was almost unbearable. Even worse, both women were feeling the lingering effects of their latest chemo treatments. But Donna agreed to walk a “mere” six miles of a 26.2 mile marathon, alongside Marilyn. She wasn’t entirely sure how (or if) she’d make it, but they’d pledged their mutual support for The Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund, and it’s not like either one of them to renege on a promise.
Check out the sweatshirt! When Donna spotted it at the starting line, she just about fell out into a fit of laughter. Happenstance, or a secret nod from her harbor seal friend, Freckles? Food for thought. For sure, it fueled a few miles’ worth of discussion, as Donna explained to Marilyn the longstanding joke between the two of us. (Donna: You need to take a pail of herring to Freckles! Me: No way! It’ll stink up my car! Donna: Then roll down the window…let him smell you coming!“)
Donna followed through on her promise, and then some! She walked the entire 26.2-mile route with Marilyn–one foot in front of the other, from Hopkinton School to Fenway Park, to the top of Heartbreak Hill and around the corner, until (“Don’t ask me to tell you our time”) they finally crossed the finish line at Copley Square.
This is the medal they placed around her neck last Sunday–a token of achievement for having accomplished something very few people manage, even when they’re healthy. It symbolizes the whole of her life: refusing to run from her diagnosis, but electing, instead, to move forward every day with a healthy sense of humor, generosity, and positive intentions.
Author Brené Brown once said, “You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.” My friend Donna lives this quote every day, and this is her race to win.
The sea can do craziness,
it can do smooth,
it can lie down like silk breathing
or toss havoc shoreward;
it can give gifts or withhold all;
it can rise, ebb,
froth like an incoming frenzy of fountains,
or it can sweet-talk entirely.
As I can too, and so, no doubt, can you, and you.
–Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings (featuring Freckles the Harbor Seal)
Life isn’t a pailful of herring, you know. Not for Freckles the harbor seal, any more than it is for the rest of us.
Not for nothing does Freckles have this spindle-shaped sleekness. He forages the Pacific Ocean for hours at a time every day, grabbing snacks on the go because he’s also got to keep an eye out for predators. Manmade dangers, too–like gill nets and ship propellers.
Freckles navigates rough waters every day, so no surprise! When he finally hauls ashore, he’s exhausted. But as leader of this pinniped posse, it also falls to Freckles to defend their onshore habitat.
You might be wondering: How does he manage?
Look deep into those liquid brown eyes, and you’ll find your answer. There’s wisdom in that sleepy-eyed gaze of his, not fear. He’s been around the tide pools a few times, our Freckles. He’s earned every one of those grey spots.
He’s not afraid to go nose-to-nose with his problems, but he also knows when and how to chill.
You’d never guess, for instance, that he’d just squared off with Clancy, the interloper up front. Once Freckles laid down the ground rules, he nestled himself into the algae-softened rocks again, angled strategically between his long time friends and this brazen newcomer. Peaceable kingdom, restored.
That’s how Freckles rolls. He just takes care of business, tra la la, and then settles in for another nap.
We could all take some cues from Freckles, now couldn’t we? Tuned in, blissed out…finding our happy place, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
Rainy days and Mondays, included.