Friday, July 1, 2011

Backyard Bird Watching Over Breakfast

Written by Heather

Not once have we ever done this before.

Instead of thinking too much about the 'why' of that statement, I'll just say I'm so glad we finally took the time for bird watching over breakfast. What a simple, enjoyable morning this was.

These sort of moments are best when left to chance or spontaneity, yes? Our little breakfast party with the birds was not planned, but rather the natural unfolding of an easy going day.

It started with him noticing the cardinals, a male and a female, we spot them in the backyard often. He remarked that everywhere we've lived, there's been a cardinal 'couple' living among us. It's true! We even recall naming them at our last home, Karl and Katelyn.

I often think I should sit out on the deck for a spell with my camera; put the big lens on and bird watch right at home, in my city lot. Around here folks usually head down to the shore for great bird watching, but we really do see quite a variety of birds in our daily activities at home. I've always meant to stop and look, notice them more. 

But, you know... I never seem to find the time.

On this morning, we were filled with the here and now. Time was on our side.

Sipping our second cup of coffee, holding bowls of Greek yogurt, homemade granola, native strawberries and honey - we looked for more birds. 

A Goldfinch came by! She landed for a moment on the Hemlock, so bright yellow and showy - then left just seconds later. Two cardinals and a Goldfinch in just a few minutes time! I went inside to grab a few identification books,  and my camera. I was finally going to sit and take the time for a little intentional zen bird watching - with camera in hand, I would wait and notice.

My family quietly flipped through pages of new and old guides as we recalled birds sighted during our time here, on this tiny piece of land. We especially, but perhaps not so fondly, remembered the Turkey Vultures nesting in our back trees that one year (none of us miss them, that was quite a mess).

We waited, me with the lens cap off, them reading various descriptions... scooping more spoonfuls of berries and yogurt here and there. And wouldn't you know it, we didn't see another bird for the rest of our time out there, not a single one! Outsmarted by nature yet again. All was certainly not lost though.

Meandering through the rest of the morning, we eventually found ourselves out of the house and into the woods for the afternoon. During our hike, I thought of those sweet little birds, the Cardinals and Goldfinch, and of a person we know who bird watches as spiritual practice. Heading out before the sun some mornings, looking for the perfect image of God or Nature in those feathery wings; he finds truth and understanding in these seemingly delicate creatures. 

I tend to think of myself as someone who finds such clarity among the trees or on my yoga mat, but I may have something to learn from our bird friends too. After all, isn't it the little things that build and strengthen our faith?

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