This morning, I awoke to snow on the ground. So when Louie was ready to go outside for morning canine ablutions and perimeter march, I went out to clean the snow from the sidewalk and walkways around our house. When we get a few centimeters of snow, it’s always interesting for me to see the critter-tracks left overnight. When we lived in the Valley, the tracks were from deer, coyotes, porcupines, wild turkeys, rabbits, and field mice. This morning, in the metropolis of Preston, there aren’t so many porcupines as there are cats, rabbits, and teeny tiny footprints from critters that may be mice. Over the day, their tracks are joined by the cacophony of birds, and the circus squirrels. These little beasties are always there. Every night, they do their patrol around the yard. I just don’t have evidence of them until there’s a little blanket of snow. These creatures live in the periphery of my life, noticed only by hulled sunflower seeds and peanut shells or their impressions in the snow.
This morning, there was something else in the snow – enough feathers and a splatter of red to evidence something had shuffled off this mortal coil, and not by natural causes. I mean, there are various raptors in my neighbourhood – owls, hawks, falcons, even bald eagles on the platform nests by the river. So yes, sometimes, a little front- (or back-) yardigan becomes prey to something higher on the food chain.
On a personal level, I feel like in the time of Covid, it’s been easy to let people drift out into the periphery of my view. A trip out is tactical – groceries, Canadian Tire and then home. Masks have made it so I can’t smile at someone as they open a door for me or ring my purchases through the till or pass my tea through the takeout window. Even moreso, I’ve been more insulated from people on the street (partly because of winter, partly because of social distancing) – I don’t wander around town, so I don’t even exchange pleasantries with strangers. The mask mandate is lifting in Ontario realsoonnow, which means that the social niceties muscles that atrophied because of masks and distancing rules and quarantines now need to be dusted off and exercised.
Beyond that, though, I’ve been listening to and reading the news more recently than I have in easily months. And because of that I’ve been thinking about what happens around me that I don’t notice until something overt makes me take notice. Like feathers and blood in the snow, but on a more humanitarian level. What don’t I notice until it becomes a crisis?
This Lent, may I do a better job of noticing people and situations on my life’s periphery, and may I be a better human to those who are often invisible.