Sometimes travel is necessary to better understand we might already be in a good location to figure out what is important; a concept relayed to me by Kathleen from writings of the Buddhist Monk Thích Nhất Hạnh. Last week, on a business trip, I walked the streets (and hills, and hills, and hills!) of Seattle, searching for an oasis of peace and quiet in the big city; escaping from the meetings and traffic and ubiquitous concrete. I did find small pockets of solitude along the shore of Elliott Bay.
But unlike home, the call of nature was difficult to find. Now that I’m back in Michigan, I better understand the joy of Sunday morning; just sitting on the deck and contemplating nature in our own backyard.
As the sun rises above the trees, the constant buzz and hum of music and machinery that everyone seems to need to drown out their own thoughts has yet to begin for the day. At this time of the morning we can listen with our minds and our hearts to the rhythm surrounding us. Rising with the sun the bird song slowly gains strength, welcoming another new day. The constant trill of the wren searching for a mate, and the rising sun moves us from the dreams of our sleep to the world of mother nature.
Sitting on the deck enjoying the first cup of tea of the day (a habit picked up in Ireland last year), my mind opens to the beauty surrounding us. As the gentle breeze flows through the locust trees the leaves sing and dance in the sunlight, words and images that were a magical verse from my wonderful wife Kathleen. All feels right with the world. On cue, waves of birds arrive for their morning feast.
Baltimore Orioles land quietly on the feeder, dipping into the grape jam freshly placed this morning, and then chirp and sing their thanks for the sweet treat. Chickadees, cowbirds and cardinals arrive to collect their morning seeds as doves pace the ground, quickly collecting the seeds spilled by the birds above. A nesting pair of bluebirds are busy catching insects and tag-teaming what I can only assume are a growing family of chicks in the little house along our creek.
Suddenly with a loud chirping the blue jays arrive and scatter the crowd, looking for the peanuts I failed to provide this morning but settling for hitting the other feeders.
As I sit contemplating the birds songs and interactions, a red pine squirrel creats a ruckus on the dead tree where a family of chickadees have created a nest in an open hollow. Red pine squirrels are the bullies of the neighborhood; even the larger grey squirrels give quarter to their approach. But on this day the chickadees win out and I watch the pine squirrel fly across the yard in retreat.
This is nature at its best; alive with the frenzy of creating and sustaining life. It is the best time of the day as soon enough the sounds of nature will once again be drowned out by the sounds of mowers and leaf blowers and other manmade noise. But for now I’ll enjoy the morning – listening to the sounds of nature, awaiting Kathleen’s presence by my side.