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On the Move: When life gets hum drum, try something new

Last modified: 10/14/2012 12:00:00 AM
A few weeks ago, I went on a hawk watch. What is a hawk watch? It's an event during which avid birdwatchers find a height from which they can observe migrating hawks wend their way south at this time of year.

Now, I am not an avid birdwatcher. I like to know who's singing to me when I'm out for a walk in the woods, and I can identify the white-throated sparrow by his song, but that's about my limit. So, what was I doing on the hawk watch?

Every now and then life gets a little humdrum; it gets same ole, same ole. It needs livening up. My cure: Try something new. I joined OLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a continuing education opportunity for older people. Classes, facilitated by volunteers, cover a variety of subjects. Some are one-time events, some run for several weeks. Subjects covered can be physical, intellectual, political, musical, historical. I knew they'd have something new, and that's how I found and chose my hawk watch, at which, incidentally, I was a failure.

You were supposed to bring binoculars and meet at the observation tower at Carter Hill Farm in Concord. I have a very old pair of binoculars, but I'm prone to motion sickness and focusing binoculars can bring on dizziness. Also, by the time I do get focused, the bird I want to see has fled.

Bob Quinn, a well-known local bird expert led my hawk-watch program. He and other attendees were warm, welcoming and nonjudgmental. They all had the right kind of binoculars and seemed to know what they were doing. The day was overcast with patches of blue. Everyone strained their eyes toward the sky. I saw gray clouds. Every now and then, Quinn would shout out, 'Right there, just this side of Horse Hill!' or 'Flock heading west in the blue spot over the Bristol signal tower!'

I felt triumphant when I caught a glimpse of a bird who looked to be about an inch long, way up high, that Quinn convinced me was a northern harrier. How they can identify what it is at that distance will forever remain a mystery to me, and I trust that the birds all got to South America safely, without my support.

I signed up for a walk in Hutchins Forest for my October adventure; it was rained out. For November, I've opted for a series of tai chi. I did tai chi a few years back when I was lots younger and remember thinking the motions were too slow. I anticipate that now they'll seem just right.

My next try-something-new was to order a set of tortilla baking pans from an 800 number on TV. I had never before ordered from a TV ad, nor have I shopped using my computer - but I was open to trying. Somehow, without my telling her, the lady who answered knew my name and address and phone number - spooky. I ordered the pans and then listened for 10 minutes to all the other bargains they offered, until, impatient, I hung up, sure that I'd never see my order. Two days later, it arrived: four pans. I gave two to a visiting grandson and kept two. My grandson emailed me that he had baked the tortillas and filled them with chili. I baked mine and with a recipe that came with the pans, made a delicious steak concoction. Success!

People are talking about the upcoming holidays already, and I'm invited to a daughter's house in Maine for Thanksgiving. My next venture into something sort of new will be deciding if, instead of making the six-hour drive, I can go with Amtrak to Portland, then Concord Trailways to Bangor. A big decision.

If life's getting a little too humdrum, try something new: Learn to knit, try wood carving, take piano lessons, volunteer somewhere you haven't been before, take cookies to a shut-in and stay for a visit, rent a pair of snowshoes and go for a winter walk, go on a hawk watch.


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