My first cane

My orthopedist handed me a scrip and said, “Get a cane. It will help. Do you know how to walk with one?” And my cane adventures began.

I’m 48, which is too young to be running around with a cane all the time. But, my knee hurt (arthritis), and the doctor showed me how to use a cane and that really took the stress off and relieved a lot of pain. I converted to the group of the cane people.

My husband sometimes uses a cane – just for show and affectation. He has an Irish blackthorn cane which doubles as a shillelagh. He has a tall, twisted Gandalf staff. Those were far to heavy for me to use for long. He has some speed-walking double sticks. I turned myself into a pretzel trying to use those.

Next, we headed down to the pharmacy – I had a prescription after all. In the assisted-living section with the big raised toilet seats sat the canes. These were lighter and maneuverable. Some even collapsed for small storage. But, to a one, they were ugly. Metal, black, the prettiest one was blue. I knew if I chose one of those canes, I would just look sad.

So, I went onto the internet – source of all things wild and interesting. And and boy did they. I was swept away into a world of dragon canes with crystals mounted along them. Canes that hid knives or flasks. Canes that transformed into a stool for sitting. But all those weigh too much.

I searched collapsible metal canes and that brought up more of what I wanted. They had hot pink canes, canes with playing cards printed on them, blue canes with yellow racing stripes, and one cane with gorgeous peacock feathers printed down in. And that one was marked half-off. I figured if I am going to have a cane – it should be bold and pretty – just like me.

Here it is, isn’t it pretty!

My cane – leaning on a sweet gum tree

It’s a complement getter, especially from other people with canes. I wonder what Freud would say about cane envy? (Oh, yeah, first guess is probably right.)

It’s for the birds (and me)

The back side of the Sugar Grove Nature Center – this is the protection around the bird feeding area. You can see one side of the corner of windows in particular.

I have always enjoyed watching the birds. The come and go, quarrel with each other, and sometimes even watch me back through the window. I have a feeder set up so I can see them from my nest – the seat on the sofa surrounded by all my things. We get tons of cardinals who nest in our yard as well as a large variety of sparrows.

I used to go to the Sugar Grove Nature Center in Funk’s Grove, Illinois (great name, huh) to watch the birds and hike. Of course, I was feeling better then. I used to love winding out around the trails in woods and prairie. Today I cannot hike, but am working to get that back.

Sugar Grove had a room where people could watch the birds (and chipmunks) through a floor-to-ceiling glass window. This is of the utmost importance – because it let everyone have a nature experience no matter their mobility. Anyone could walk, hobble, or roll into the room and take a comfy seat surrounded by windows covered with one-way glass. You could pick up a bird book, look around the room for pictures of common seasonal birds, or just relax and enjoy the show.

They set out specialized food to bring diversity. Sunflower seeds are the perennial favorite, but they had a finch sock, fruit or jelly for orioles, hummingbird sugar-water, suet for woodpeckers, and several other specialty foods. The variety of foods attracted a number of birds who normally don’t feed together.

Chipmunks were everyone’s favorites. (Yes, I know, not birds). These critters would dart around the area, munching on peanuts and playing in the running water. I bet they thought they hit the lottery by finding the feeding area.

Chipping sparrow – small but mighty. Image from Cornell Lab’s “All about birds”.

Watching birds is therapeutic. I have always loved being outdoors. My favorite thing used to be removing turf for a garden – it’s quite a workout. I cannot get out in nature as much as I used to. I can bring some to me, feeding the birds.