Places and Spaces

I find the concept of spaces and places an interesting idea as it relates to writing. I can write in coffee shops, noisy airports, planes, and trains. I’ve spent hours writing on napkins in bars in New Orleans, Boston, San Francisco, and Dallas to the loud beat of the music and the cacophony of the crowds and, on occasion, naked dancers.

At home, it’s different, and I’ve never figured out why. I’ve been writing for twenty-five years, and I’ve always had a “space” within a house that was mine. The space or place didn’t have to be a particular size; I prefer smaller writing areas, again when I’m at home.

We moved to Dallas in 2018. The house is a 1950’s ranch in a beautiful neighborhood that sits on top of old limestone cliffs just south of downtown. It’s a perfect place, except for one thing. In three years, I’ve never felt settled into a writing space. I have literally been in every room and corner of this house, including the in-law suite that takes up the entire second floor. I’m suitable for a while, then the space begins to feel uncreative and uninspiring (I know that an airport is not the most creative space in the world). I can’t explain it.

For the umpteenth time in three years, I have just moved my desk “study” again. This time I’m in the front bedroom of the house. It’s the guest bedroom, complete with a bed and closet, but I doubt we’ll have any overnight guests in the coming years with the pandemic still playing havoc with all our lives. Maybe this space is the one. I’m between two large windows, which supply wonderful natural light. My books and my research library are on shelves next to me. Is this going to be the place? If not, I’m sort of shit out of luck. There’s no place else. Oh, wait. Maybe the garage?

What’s your experience with writing spaces or places? Is it one place, or have you been shifting rooms and settings to find the right spot like me?

Great Backyard Bird Count

As all of you may know, I’m a wildlife fanatic. It doesn’t matter if it’s turtles, snakes, squirrels, possums, or raccoons. Birds, of course, are not out of my equation. I love birds, and watching them in my backyard has eased my stress levels during the pandemic. The birds (and all wildlife) go about their day like the pandemic doesn’t exist. It’s a way for me to escape.

Birds are not immune to natural disasters or climate change. They have their own set of problems. Adequate food supply, fresh water for drinking and bathing, air quality, and light pollution. The worst-case for them – extinction. We as a nation and as a world are their greatest enemy. Yet, we can change that. We can become their allies, their saviors. We just need to think about how our actions affect the birds and their habitats.

Every year in February, for over four days, Cornell Labs, The Audubon Society, and many other organizations and donors have developed a way for us to track our feathered friends. It’s called the Great Backyard Bird Count. This year it takes place between February 18th and the 21st. It takes as little as 15 minutes during the four days, or if you have the time like I do, 15 minutes each of the four days. You sit in your backyard, record the birds you see, and go into a worldwide database. This database uses the data for tracking migration, where birds have shifted their habitats and the number of birds. It’s a way to understand the effects of climate change on them.

Please consider spending 15 minutes this year and joining the millions of people worldwide who participate in the annual event. All birds matter and every count is essential to understanding the world around us.

Here is more information on the Great Backyard Bird Count and how you can participate in this important event.