You Need to Blink More

Alas, the first day of spring went unmarked in this space, though it was sunny and lovely (and cold). It was a busy Sunday morning during which I taught Sunday school (we’re discussing so-called “lost gospels” at the moment and why they are not inducted into the canon), forgot to bring cookies for Fellowship Time, read and prayed in the service as the lay leader, jumped into the choir number since I remembered it from years past, and then hosted a few church members at our house for lunch. During the afternoon and evening I decided to change tacks and do nothing.

And that’s what I did, or nearly so. I reclined on the couch in a shaft of sunlight, very much like a cat. I also read, unlike most cats I’ve known. In the back of my mind I knew I should be taking advantage of the free time to read a manuscript I’m critiquing for a friend, but I also knew that that wouldn’t be doing nothing. And I needed to do nothing for a bit.

A while back I visited the eye doctor with what I saw as a troubling symptom of some sort of problem — I didn’t know what. I feared glaucoma or perhaps crazy-early-onset cataracts. Whatever it was, something was most definitely wrong. I was experiencing a frequent sort of clouding, large chunks of my field of vision where it looked like I was looking through frosted glass. For someone who makes a living writing, who uses a computer 8+ hours a day, and whose greatest joys and hobbies all involve her sense of sight (painting, photography, reading, hiking, observing nature) this was understandably weighing on my mind.

With some anxiety, I went for the first time to an ophthalmologist, where I was put through the proverbial wringer for a couple hours. Test upon test upon test. And in the end, what was I told?

“You have dry eyes. You need to blink more.”

That’s it? Really? I don’t blink enough? I was relieved, of course, that it wasn’t something more serious. But there was a tiny half-buried part of me that kind of thought I had wasted two hours for nothing. Blinking? Wasn’t that something we just do without thinking? Who consciously blinks more?

Some of you may be thinking, Duh. Haven’t you read this, this, or this? Well, yeah, I’m sure I read something about that — on my pernicious computer screen, no less. But that’s about other people. Not me.

So now I have eye drops I’m supposed to use four times a day to make up for the fact that I don’t blink enough.

You know the saying, “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it?” It’s applied to many things, most notably to your kid’s childhood. These are the things old strangers in the mall lean in and say while you’re already quite engaged with “not missing it” and from which you frankly don’t appreciate the interruption. And there’s a sense nowadays that you can never blink anymore. If you don’t catch the latest blockbuster, read the latest novel from so-and-so, see the latest clip of so-and-so on YouTube, participate (or at least lurk at) the discussion people on Twitter are having about this issue and the discussion people on Facebook are having on that issue, binge on the newest season of Hot TV Show on Netflix…if you don’t keep up, if you blink, you’ll miss it.

But I tell you what, I missed everything yesterday afternoon, and I didn’t miss a thing. I blinked so much I may as well have kept my eyes closed (though that would make it difficult to read) and I didn’t miss anything worth catching.

“You need to blink more.”

It’s okay. The world keeps spinning, even in the dark.

Fenner Nature Center

I know that all of you in Michigan must be suffering from some level of either Seasonal Affective Disorder or Cabin Fever (or quite possibly both). One of the best remedies for both of these ailments is to get out of the house and get some exercise. And what better place to do that than out in nature?

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Fenner Nature Center is one of two prominent nature centers in the Lansing area (the other, Woldumar, will be highlighted at another time). I spend most of my nature-walk time at Fenner because it is quite close to my house and the shorter walks are good for my 4-year-old’s short legs.

Walking at Fenner

Fenner Nature Center is located at the southeast corner of Aurelius and Mt. Hope, opposite Mt. Hope Cemetery. Besides showcasing a variety of natural habitats (including open meadows, ponds, wetlands, deciduous forests, and coniferous forests) Fenner has classes for children and adults, a great interactive learning center, a library, a gift shop, guided walks of all kinds, and special seasonal festivals, like the Maple Syrup Festival in March and the Apple Butter Festival in October.

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When we go to Fenner we usually make it a point to climb on boulders.

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We also spend a good deal of time looking for frogs…

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turtles…

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turkeys…

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and deer.

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Dragonflies, bees, and butterflies abound, as do many types of songbirds.

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It is beautiful and walkable in all seasons…

Spring

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Summer

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Autumn

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Winter

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But I think autumn is probably my personal favorite.

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