Over the last few weeks and months, we’ve seen our Colorado winter turn to spring to summer and it seems we’ll be watching summer turn to fall in this same way, in this same place.
While routines have been uprooted and replaced and some adventures postponed, there has been a clear and powerful opportunity to turn inward, build from within the house and get to know immediate surroundings even better, more closely, more intimately.
One of the elements that has been a joy to observe closer has been the wildlife that exists all around us that can often just blur into the landscape or seem ordinary, not worthy of note.
Without the bustle of the morning rush to work and school and packing of lunchboxes and morning texts with other parents to coordinate who’s driving to after school soccer practice, there is time and calm to sit in kitchen or out on the patio and just watch, and listen.
Over time, this watching and listening has turned to noting and listing, drawing in curious kids and digging out the binoculars as we have gone from looking at birds, to noting that Northern Flicker, a member of the woodpecker family, as it forages for the ants that climb our trees and burrow in the ground.
We observe the magpies and note the shades of blue on their wings and their funny squawk. I even added a favorite bird to my list of life favorites, something that I had never really thought I needed, but now I cling to and look for. It’s the Stellar’s Jay in case you’re wondering. Look it up.
Now the squirrels and rabbits that scamper around the yard and flee from the dog are still fun to watch, but there’s nothing like the variety of the birds and the learning that can occur, turning our kids into little naturalists just as a young Teddy Roosevelt was inclined to do in his early years.
We’ve seen hawks grab snakes and flocks of little red and grey house finches swarm our trees almost like little parakeets in a more tropical setting.
We’re also noting which of these birds are migratory and which we can expect to stay put through the winter. That way we know which ones to appreciate before they are gone, and to keep an eye out for others that may swing through.
The fall promises to be an exciting time as migratory birds head south. The geese are impossible to miss, but which others have been using our yard and neighborhood as a stopover that we never noticed before, that we never saw because we weren’t looking closely enough.
It’s funny that birding has been such a great fit for these times, after all, aren’t we all nesting to some degree? Probably a large degree more that we did in the past driven by the need for new and different spaces – guest rooms without guests becoming home offices and art spaces for kids, lofts becoming yoga and peloton studios.
Attention to our surroundings, maybe a little quieter, slower paced and thus more attractive to life that usually hid elsewhere, has become the focus, not just the blur in our car windows.
As school begins to ramp up and parents everywhere are forced to wrap their heads around what that even means, kids at home, teachers on a screen, trying to find boundaries between learning and zoning out on the computer, keep in mind that there is a simple, wondrous, and beautiful science lesson waiting to happen right outside.
Get some binoculars and start a list –
Aug 15, one Downy Woodpecker, possibly juvenile male. Never seen before.
Allow the meditation of waiting, the anticipation of something new, the excitement of a child in discovery – all found in the ordinary.