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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Ann Richter

Out the Window

A laptop and coffee mug sits on a counter along a cafe's window
"The birds are in their trees, the toast is in the toaster, and the poets are at their windows." - from "Monday," by poet Billy Collins

So much of my inspiration comes from staring out the window. Not necessarily from what’s out there at any particular moment, but how the gazing gets me pondering things. Things that are deep and not so deep, big and not so big. Marveling at how chickadees aren’t freezing to death when it’s twenty degrees outside. Mind being blown by the fact that there are stars and galaxies literally trillions of miles away from us. The mystery of God’s hand in all of this.


That’s why I keep looking out and up at the birds and stars.


I’ve been reading through a collection of new and selected poems by one of my favorite poets, Billy Collins, titled Aimless Love. The opening stanza of his poem “Monday” (which had originally appeared in a 2005 collection) is a perfect picture of my Monday mornings . . . and Tuesday mornings and Wednesday mornings—you get the picture. I do have to wait awhile for the birds to show up, though, since I start before sunrise.


Speaking of birds, I’m up to 22 species that have visited my feeder station this season. A Blue Jay finally stopped by, as well as a Brown Creeper. The creeper is a small bird that crawls on tree trunks and branches—kind of like an insect, only much cuter. It’s deep brown with light-colored flecks and streaks and has a solid white belly. A Northern Flicker also visited, the first one I've spotted in my yard.

While we’re on the subject of birds, don’t forget to check out February’s Bird of the Month! (Hint: It’s a bird that looks particularly good in a snowy winter setting, especially when sitting in a holly bush.)

Now to the stars. My early morning stargazing has taken me to the constellation Scorpius, which sits very low in the sky for those in North America. I have a pretty decent view of the southern skies from my office, so I got to see a good portion of the constellation. My main focus was the star Antares, the brightest in the constellation. I just love the name, probably because I first heard it on a episode of Star Trek.

In ancient Greek, Antares means “rival to Ares” (Mars) because it appears red like the planet. Growing up, I never thought of stars having colors; they all just looked like white dots to me. That’s why now I always search for the colorful stars, which is easier to do with binoculars or a telescope.

Here's more information on the star and the constellation.

From northern latitudes, you’ll find the Scorpius constellation on summer evenings. But like I said, I check the skies in the wee hours of the morning, so I get to catch it in winter.

Okay, that’s it for now. Back to the window!

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