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I am very aware that I share my environment with nature. Everywhere I look nature abounds. This morning there were three deer lying in the lawn when I came down. They didn’t seem to notice me at all.

Then, as I sat on the couch, two squirrels chased each other up and down the tree out back.

Birds continue to visit my feeders, adding a few more species. I watch the birds when I eat my meals because the feeders are on the porch right outside the kitchen door. My ritual is to take the feeders out around 6 a.m. and bring them in around 6 p.m. Although I didn’t see any bears, I know they are around so this is a protective measure.

Our anniversary would have been this week. Looking at our photos, I can see how happy we really were. Just being together meant a lot. We didn’t have to do anything special. The time spent together was special.

When COVID hit we were mostly sequestered at home. We continued to get groceries and keep our doctor’s appointments, but other than that we stayed home. What a blessing it was that we met. This is where I see the hand of the Lord. He brought us together so we could just enjoy time at home.

Sometimes we would go for a ride. One of the most enjoyable walks we did was around the back of the Kinzua Dam. Don helped build this and shared some of his experiences. I learned about the construction of one of our most famous attractions. I actually have a set of slides that my mother and stepfather put together when the dam was being built. They visited weekly and took lots of pictures.

Before COVID we ate quite a bit at the restaurant, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. We ate mainly at New Beginnings and Bob Evans. If we met after my volunteer duties, we were at Bob Evans’. If we were just going out we could go to New Beginnings, Jackson Valley or Blueberry Hill Golf Course.

After COVID, we once again enjoyed eating out.

After completing some blood work for which I had to fast, I stopped at Bob Evans’ because I had other errands to run. Took a long time to get my food, I noticed. When I was with Don we never worried about how long it took because we visited. Being alone is very different.

In my reading this week, I found something that struck me. It said, “We spend so much time looking at other people and wishing we could do what they’re doing that we don’t realize we’re not doing what God made us do.” (Blueberry Beach by Jessie Gussman)

That’s where I am now – wondering what God has for me to do. I don’t spend my time envying others who still have a spouse. I am happy for them. When I lost my first husband, I met a lady in Chautauqua who was very bitter. She was my roommate – she didn’t want a roommate. I tried to stay out of his way. She didn’t know her way to Chautauqua since she was from New York. I tried to help him find things. In passing she asked me if I was not jealous of those who still had spouses. I said I wasn’t; I was happy for them.

By the end of the week, she and I were pretty much friends. We exchanged email addresses and continued to stay in touch. Eventually, she asked me to travel with her, but that didn’t happen since the destination she chose was the one I had just visited.

I found my place – helping other widows and visiting relatives and friends. I did that for almost seventeen years. I was happy. My grandchildren have also kept me busy not only taking care of them but also attending school activities.

Love the second time was very different. We had few responsibilities. We weren’t raising children. Financially, we were stable – able to do the things we wanted. Life was easy. We had no reason to fight. I can honestly say that Don and I never argued in all the years we traveled together.

When he moved here he enjoyed all the animals that were here. We sat on the porch and listened to the birds or watched the deer. We watched nature while we ate our meals. Last year the deer really did a number on my rhododendron bushes. Often they were in the bed right outside our window. When I saw them, I chased them away, but obviously it wasn’t soon enough. I don’t know if the big bushes will recover, but I hope so.

Yes, I will gladly share my environment with nature – it’s fun to be able to observe animals.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pennsylvania. Contact

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