Monday, July 20, 2009

Bird feeding chores

This morning while enjoying a fresh cup of coffee on the deck, marveling at another beautiful Ozarks morning, I had an epiphany.

I had already changed sheets and made the bed, preparing for a load of laundry. It was only 6:30 a.m.

A chorus of birds were singing their favorite songs as they flitted from tree to tree. I watched a Nuthatch land on a bird feeder below me in the back yard. I realized it was empty, or nearly so. Then I remembered, my husband John took the feeders in at night -- a new practice he'd begun since raccoons decided to enjoy a nightly feast, at ours and the birds' expense. When I was finished putting out the three feeders and filling the fourth, I sat back on the deck with second cup of coffee.

It really felt good to have completed this little task. Then it came to me. This was what people meant when they referred to "doing their chores." I never related to that phrase. My parents never taught me to "do chores."

Oh my mother would yell at me now and then, "Make your bed!" or "clean your room!" but there was never an organized routine involved. It was just random yelling, which I usually ignored. She never pushed it, just kept on yelling. So, no cause and effect -- never a lesson to be learned. Hmm, I never taught that to my kids either.

Fortunately my husband had a much different upbringing. He has always been very regimented. I've always marveled at how he does things every day like clockwork, even now that he is retired. I'm grateful that our children learned from his behavior.

I've always been a free spirit. If I had to do chores every day, when would I have time to write in my blog, work on a quilt, pick up my knitting or crocheting, write a letter, call a friend on the phone, create an oil painting, bake cupcakes, read a book, write one, or any of the other things I do (ir)regularly? Sometimes I augment these activities with the mundane ones -- vacuuming, cleaning or actually finishing the laundry. I certainly don't have a routine though.

When people come by for a visit, they probably will not see my house neatly picked up, unless I know they are coming. But I figure they come to see me, not my house. If their visit is a surprise, and I really like those, there may be projects strewn about in various stages of completion.

Now that I know this about chores, I have to decide if I want to give in to what I've learned. That's easy; the answer is absolutely not. I like having the freedom to do whatever I want when I want, even if it means having some dishes in the sink or a floor that needs to be scrubbed. Those things will get done when I get around it. The feeling of accomplishment that comes with doing those things only lasts for a minute before it needs to be done again. Yet, the feeling that comes with hanging a newly-painted canvas or admiring a handmade quilt is a much better and longer lasting.