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Sunday, November 6, 2022

The Juncos Usher in the Gloom of Winter

I stood in my office looking out the large north facing window. Under the row of pine trees, small birds bounced around, shuffling through the leaves, looking for something to eat. These weren’t the ubiquitous sparrows, nor the numerous finches, not even my favorite black capped chickadee. These birds were rounder, with darker heads and white bellies. Juncos. The Dark-eyed Juncos are winter birds in South Dakota.  The seasons had changed.  The darkness of winter was coming quickly. As the days shortened, the juncos ushered in the cold and the shadows.  I stood staring out that window at the group of chubby juncos with silent tears streaming down my face.  

Dark-eyed Junco. Jocelyn Anderson/Audubon Photography Awards
I watched those adorable juncos move about their day as if they had been here for months.  Seeing them, I could no longer deny the passage of time.  From January through summer we watched the days lengthen, until summer breezes turn to chilly autumn winds, and in the blink of an eye the hours of daylight dwindled. The leaves changed, work campaigns ended, and the juncos arrived.  The world seemed to be constantly changing, evolving even, and here I was, just the same as always.  Still fat, still a chatterbox, still worrying about my dad too much, still Auntie Carla to the ever increasing children of siblings and best friends, and still childless. The days and months and years seem to both crawl and fly by in some twisted joke of the universe.  For the first quarter of our lives we’re always desiring to be older, to get to the next step, until somewhere in your late twenties you realize you want to stop time- you want an extension on this assignment called adulthood.