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Chirpy & Longtail

For a while now, whenever I discover insects or spiders in the house, I try to release them outdoors. I catch them in a little cardboard jewellery box that has a lid. It’s surprising, but spiders will jump right into the box when you place it beneath them. Hope decorated the box with green on the bottom (like grass) and blue on the inside of the lid (like the sky). Maybe they think that they are free-falling into summer…

I do this because it doesn’t feel right killing things—even bugs, which can be bothersome and creepy. Keeping this in mind, it’s probably not that unusual that Hope’s first pet was a cricket. Or rather, nine crickets. Six of them didn’t make it past two weeks, but two females and a male lasted several months. Chirpy, the male, died earlier this week. We miss him. He sang soothingly (and sometimes piercingly!) all winter long. There is one remaining cricket left. Her name is Longtail. Yesterday, as a treat, we gave her apple slices and brought her tank out into the living room with us so that she wouldn’t be lonely.


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Is it possible to love an insect? It’s easy to love cuddly animals like dogs, cats, and bunnies. But insects are different. They never get used to you. They are always skittish. I know it’s possible for the heart to stretch beyond its boundaries though. An expanded heart feels an interconnectedness with even the most unlikely things. Through this openness, intuitive communication and compassion arises.

One Kind Word


One kind word can warm 
three winter months.

—Japanese proverb

Winter Is Blue

“Winter is probably going to kill me one of these years.” I wrote these words in an e-mail recently. My friend had written to say that he was feeling blue and I was trying to let him know that he wasn’t alone in his misery. On reflection, my phrasing shocked me in its violence and sincerity. I’ve come to the realization that if I had hibernated every winter since I was 11 years old, I would have saved myself every major emotional trauma that I have ever suffered. From being bullied, fired, and significant break-ups, to discovering that my unborn child had a congenital heart defect that required major heart surgery, winter has fucked me at every turn. If only I were a bear, bat, or bumblebee!


Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself (there’s still a week to go until spring), but I think I’m going to make it this winter. I hope, dear reader, you have fared better than me; but if you have not, fear not. Spring is on its way! I went for a long walk in the woods today (one of the only places that makes sense to me these days) and it was so delightful. Early spring cannot be adequately shared in words or photos—it’s about the music of it all. The dripping, trickling, rushing sounds of snow melting. The slightly unnerving sound of tall and bare deciduous trees as they move against each other in the wind. The rustle of pale gold beech leaves that just can’t bear to let go of their branches. The melodious calls of winter birds that seem just as psyched that spring is on its way. And the tap, tap, tapping of small woodpeckers that are eager to snap up all the drowsy, sunbathing insects that emerge on these warmer days. I love it all.


As I edited the photos from my walk today, I realized with regret that none of them capture what I’m talking about here. They all look wintery and show no signs of spring. Nonetheless, the azure sky, clouds, and landscape looked beautiful to me. As for all the other things mentioned, you will just have to trust me.