It takes two ferry rides to get to this island in the Bay of Fundy off the coast of Nova Scotia--three if you count the longer one from St. John, New Brunswick, to Digby. Brier Island is a haven of peace and nature at the end of Digby Neck, surrounded by waters populated by humpback and minke whales, gray and harbor seals, dolphins and porpoises. Trails crisscross the island, and the one I took this morning leaves the back of the lodge, is marked by lobster buoys, and leads to Seal Cove. TRead More
It is foggy on this island off the coast of Nova Scotia, the fog so thick it blurs the spiky pines and jagged rocks. You can hear waves crashing, fishing and whale watch boats entering and leaving the harbor, and the foghorn at the Coast Guard station, but you can't see them.Read More
Every fall migratory birds fly south from their breeding grounds in the Canadian forests on their way to the tropics, and large numbers stop over in New York City. Central Park is one big concentrated stretch of green from the air, and it attracts the migrants, provides a place to rest and forage before continuing the journey.
The tiny terrace is west and south of Central Park and has just one birch tree, one black pine, a hedge of ivy and Manhattan euonymus, and a small herb garden, but I am so glad to see the birds have found it.
There is so much about New York that I love, but sometimes I can feel nature-deprived. It is always possible to hike up to Central Park, or along the river in Hudson River Park, or Forest Park or Alley Pond in Queens, or Floyd Bennett Field or Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, or Van Cortlandt Park or Pelham Bay in the Bronx, or the magical Staten Island Greenbelt, but there's nothing like sitting at one's desk, glancing up, and seeing a bird in a tree just outside the window.
Birds face enough dangers on their migrations, and New York provides special challenges. They crash into windows on skyscrapers; it's not uncommon, in the morning, to walk by tall buildings and find dead or injured birds. Light can also be a magnet. New York City Audubon and Project Safe Flight are working to improve things.
Creatures migrate. It's how they survive. Humans, too.
Meanwhile, up here, feeling grateful for the delicate beauty of birds and sky.
I wouldn't exactly call Maisie a "problem cat" (there-are-no-bad-cats) but ever since she was a kitten, she has had a certain personality: contrary, cantankerous, particular in whom she allows to approach (no one.) She was a rescue cat who had lived through the tragic circumstances of losing her mother too young and being left alone, sick, and flea-ridden until a kind vet in Old Lyme, Connecticut took her in. I and the old girls--Maggie and Mae Mae--adopted her. Time passed. We lived in New York, and for a while in Malibu. The dynamic of those three cats was of love, but separation. Each kept to herself. There were occasional stealth attacks--Maisie, stalking the others like a wild cat, pouncing, letting out lion-sounding snarls. Maggie would sit closest to me, on my desk while I wrote, and after she died, Mae Mae nuzzled her way in. After Mae Mae died, I waited for Maisie to claim her spot on the desk, but she never did. She was a loner cat, preferring to sit under chairs rather than on them, staring at me with her green eyes, coming out to be fed, but rarely petted.
Then along came Tim and Emelina. Like Maisie, they'd been rescued from life on the streets, and we adopted them from West Chelsea Vets.
The twins moved in, and I was a little worried that Maisie, although now fifteen and less angry, would intimidate them--maybe even attack them. They had such sweet personalities, loving to be held and petted, and often cuddling up with each other. I watched Maisie carefully, ready to pull her away from the kittens if I saw too aggressive a swat.
Emelina took the hint and stayed away from her. She made herself at home and kept her distance.
But not Tim. He loved Maisie from the beginning and was determined to make friends. His initial approach, however, didn't go very well.
But he's a brave and persistent cat, named for surfer Tim West, so he stayed close and watched.
And watched some more.
Maisie noticed, and after a while she began to semi-tolerate his attention, sometimes throwing him a glance.
After a while this happened:
They made friends.
Tim is also very sweet with Emelina, but this story is about him and Maisie. Emelina does, occasionally, hang out with them.
But mostly, if Maisie lets anyone close, it's Tim.
He taught her about love. She's almost a different cat. Amazing that love can do that.
This summer the cats and I spent several weeks at Point O'Woods. Maisie was born in Old Lyme, so for her it was a homecoming. Emelina and Tim, the kittens, had never been, so it was their first time there all together. Being NYC cats, they're used to the confines of a Chelsea apartment. Going to the country was summer vacation for them.
And Maisie returned to one of her favorite spots, a place she used to sit with the old girls, Maggie and Mae-Mae, on the back of the loveseat next to the fireplace, proving that--indeed--you can go home again.