Comfort birds

Yesterday I spent a full day at my new job at University of Maryland- Baltimore Campus (UMBC).  If you have not yet heard the news… it’s hot off the presses…   I just took a position teaching environmental science at UMBC this spring! In a word, I’m THRILLED!

With any new job, there’s a learning curve, of course. Even though I’ve taught undergrads before, I’ve been out of the classroom for 15 years. Going back has been both exciting and stimulating, engaging areas of my brain that haven’t been tapped in years.  My hope is that I’ll be skiing the downhill slope of that learning curve BEFORE I stand in the lecture hall with over 150 pairs of eyes pinned on me. At least that’s the plan.

Of all the courses I’d like to teach, this one’s at the top of my list– so I know I’m one lucky dog to have landed the position. That said, I’ve had days when I’ve thought to myself “I’ve got this!” and other days when the butterflies start to flutter .. There have been more of them than I care to admit lately. But yesterday was different.. no butterflies.


I asked myself–  What did I do differently?   I still have umpteen new unfamiliar computer software downloads, a syllabus to create, and a bunch of lesson plans to do. Where are those butterflies?

I realized that yesterday I had done one thing I hadn’t done before. On my 20 minute walk from my ‘low-man-on-the-totem-pole’ parking space, I had taken the time to stop in an empty lot and greet some familiar faces that will make all my fellow seasoned-birders cringe. 🙂 I encountered two house sparrows at my feet and flock of starlings sitting in trees above me.

For all you non-birders, these are considered ‘trash’ or ‘junk’ birds.. as they’re a dime a dozen, found everywhere, and show up in the most inhospitable, completely developed habitats. I’m pretty sure I’ve never smiled when I’ve seen either of these species.  But this time I smiled.

These were old friends in my strange new world. Just like grandma’s chicken soup heals your soul on a cold winter day when you’re under the weather, these birds were my comfort… appearing just when I needed them most.