"Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy--your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself."
From my kitchen window, I have a ringside seat to a small patch of earth. I've started keeping a notebook, jotting down types of birds that visit the feeders, along with seasonal notes. Soon, I will keep track of migrations. I signed up for the upcoming backyard bird count (February 12 - 15), and I'm learning how to create a certified wildlife habitat in my yard.
Isn't it wonderful how one, little hobby can lead to another? Bird watching inspires me to get out of my chair and interact with nature. The weather may not be inviting, but that's okay. The moment I breathe in the cold country air, my whole perspective changes. I notice sunlight and shadows; I listen to birdsong. I look for animal tracks. And I dream about spring and summer.
We all need dreams, don't we?
My Great Aunt Claudine had twenty hummingbird feeders in her Mississippi yard, and people lingered on her patio for hours, just enjoying the show. I haven't bought a feeder yet, but I've been looking.
Nature gives us so much beauty. It makes us smile, laugh--and yes, cry. For some of us, it may give a reason to keep going when times are unbearable. Nature also teaches us to live in the here and now. It's a form of meditation, a way to clear your thoughts and fill your soul.
When I was a little girl, I would gather little items in our garage and put them in an old burlap sack. Then I'd go door-to-door, letting the neighbors take what they wanted. Free goodies to all was my motto. I gave away things like tiny flower pots, pin cushions, and oyster shells. Many decades later, I have become the recipient of free goodies. My house isn't new, and it is yielding little treasures that previous owners have left behind.
I think the former owners were nature lovers, too.
I was delighted to find bird feeders and a shepherd's hook that's the perfect size for a hummingbird feeder. When I told my mama, she said that's wonderful, but birdwatching isn't a one-way activity. It's a commitment to your local flock by filling and cleaning the feeders. It means providing a safe habitat.
She also says that identifying birds and bird calls (plus all kinds of animals, along with their tracks and calls) will keep the mind sharp, the blood pressure low, and the heart happy.
"Have you ever seen a bird brood?" she asked.
When we engage in activities that make us happy, the body reacts. Stress levels fall, self esteem rises, and we feel at peace with the world.
Nature watching can be a distraction from a troubled day. In fact, it teaches us that we can have a bad day--but that doesn't mean we've had a bad life.
Can nature watching rewire the brain in a positive way?
I believe it does.
"Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature."
-- C.S. Lewis, Miracles
"The only way to live is to accept each minute as an unrepeatable miracle, which is exactly what it is: a miracle and unrepeatable."
-- Margaret Storm Jameson
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