Bundled up on my lawn chair that survived the snowstorm, I sit on a wool pillow and sip my tea. The tea soothes me and brings warmth to my body. As I relax, I meditate on bird calls and movements. I watch neighbors walk dogs. I watch sparrows scatter and hear jays screech at the intruding cat. Each day I do this and each day the birds find me to be more familiar. I am a silent, unobtrusive observer.
Jon Young in his book What the Robin Knows calls this the sit spot. It is a place you choose to visit each day where you sit and observe the birds, listen and learn about what is going on around you. It’s ok to bring binoculars, but even those are not really necessary. More important, you are developing your powers of observation and senses that are often underused in our modern society. In time you will distinguish between the calls of robins, blue jays, wrens, cardinals, chickadees, crows and sparrows. You will even understand the base line sounds and warning calls of birds. You will understand why suddenly the chatter of the sparrows has stopped. You will note the silent swoop of a sharp shinned hawk who has singled out one chirping sparrow for her next meal for her chicks. All these wildlife activities are going on in your yard around you, and now you are actutely aware of it.
Consider this quotation from Henry David Thoreau on the elderly dame, at home in her garden, the wise one who knows all the stories, the embodiment of the earth mother:
“An elderly dame, too, dwells in my neighborhood, invisible to most persons, in whose odorous herb garden I love to stroll sometimes, gathering simples and listening to her fables; for she has a genius of unequalled fertility, and her memory runs back farther than mythology, and she can tell me the original of every fable, and on what fact everyone was founded, for the incidents occurred when she was young. A ruddy and lusty old dame, who delights in all weather and seasons, and is likely to outlive all her children yet.”
This is the wisdom available to us when we sit and listen and observe the natural world. Though its value may not be clear at first and may not be acknowledged by mainstream society, it is a deep, soulful knowledge that we tap into. Doing this on a daily basis develops our intuitive self and gives us the skills to be more human and more aware.