Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On Being Still

One thing I've learned from my backyard long-sittings is that when I'm moving fast, the world seems still. Strong, stable, and supportive—but still.  It's not until I stay still and quiet for an extended period of time that the backyard livens into activity I couldn't have seen while crashing through with a compost bucket or garden rake. 

Take this morning, for example. First it was the barely audible tap tap tapping of a downy woodpecker, finding breakfast in the dying hickory tree with industry and determination, resting every now and then to offer its distinctive descending whinny. In the grass hopped a pair of Eastern Towhees—one following the other. At first I thought it was the less colorful female pursuing her more vivid rufous sided lover. Odd, in bird world. But on closer inspection, it appeared to be a disheveled fledgling having a training session with its father, learning the art of towhee foraging behavior.  A chipmunk investigated an old cement planter. The ubiquitous squirrels scampered around the yard—I counted six of them at once. A messy fledgling brown thrasher preened in the holly tree, and tested his wings, flitting from branch to branch before taking off across the yard. 

Then, oh precious then, a tiny furry bunny ventured into the grass to nibble on something. Clover?  I've noticed that rabbit hole in the walk path. Not far away, an adult rabbit nibbled too, so still I almost missed it. Noisily, the cardinals, nuthatches, chickadees, titmice, and finches flutter around the feeder. Pichickory-pichickory-mew-mew, call the goldfinches. A Carolina wren sits in a ray of sun on the hummingbird feeder pole, singing his exuberant heart out. With uptilted head, open beak, heaving throat, and quivering tail, he throws his entire body into the effort of his chee-boogie chee-boogie song. Soon a female joins him. Off they go together for a tryst in the woods. 

All of a sudden the bluejays erupt into raucous warning. Who knew there were so many so near? Such a flurry in the grass and trees as everybody disappears, and sure enough, a broadwinged hawk soars overhead. I love the bluejays for their vigilance. They are to bird world what journalists are to ours. The hawk whistles and disappears too. Quiet returns. 

In the Wayback, a large branch cracks and falls through the trees. Frightening sound.  Probably a result of our recent heavy rains. I'll investigate when I take the compost out later. Now the crickets begin to buzz, and the mourning doves coo in the distance—lazy summer day sounds. The sun emerges above the canopy, making it suddenly hot. Time to get this day started. 

Usually, I try to choose the single most significant observation to blog about. How could I have chosen today?  dkm


Jane Robertson said...

Your beautiful post sent me to this - of which I really knew just the first 2 lines.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

How we bang and crash through our busy lives and trample the smaller beings all about. This post reminds me to be more mindful - which I think I am but not sufficiently...

dkm said...

Thank you for introducing me to this! I didn't know it but love it! I think it will find its way to my bulletin board, as a daily reminder. Just read it to all the people in my kitchen, of which there happen to be a lot at the moment. Everyone loved it. The children and I got a hearty laugh out of staring as long as sheep or cows. Do you know the author?

dkm said...

Found it online. William Henry Davies. A Welsh poet I don't know, but definitely want to research! THanks again for the intro---

Jane Robertson said...

Isn't google wonderful!

bibi said...

Oh, my. I loved your post, Debbie, and Jane's poem. I am trying so hard to be more mindful of this minute, the present. I am spending my meditation time with my eyes closed, and I am becoming more aware of my backyard sounds. you are showing me what I am missing!

dkm said...

Thanks, bibi. Nice to see you again! And yes jane isn't amazi g how easily we've forgotten the time when we had to be satisfied with passi g curiosity, never to have our questions answered.