Magpies at the Garden of the Gods. It's hard to see them, but I know they are there!
Magpies at the Garden of the Gods. It’s hard to see them, but I know they are there!

During my sophomore year of high school I was in an advanced zoology class. The biggest task of this class was to learn the names and pictures of around 200 birds. I remember going to my dad’s office at church with our bird book and making copies of all the birds I had to learn. I cut out the pictures and glued them to one side of a note card and put the name and other important details on the back. However, this wasn’t a color copier, so I then spent a few hours with colored pencils and crayons adding back the appropriate colors for each bird. It was time consuming. I have no idea how I did on that test and I hardly remember any of those birds anymore.

Birds, however, are making a strong come back in my life. I walk or run daily (mostly walk these days) and often this involves me looking straight ahead or down to the ground. Recently I’ve reminded myself to look up. Look to the side. Look around. Forget about the goal of so many steps or miles and enjoy the path. So, I often look up and see birds. Yesterday morning I saw something bigger flying in the trees. I got closer and searched in the leaves to see a pileated woodpecker. I don’t remember the last time I saw one of those.

Noticing. How often do I take time to notice? I was on a retreat earlier this year and our leader kept asking us, what do you notice? This question helps center me, helps bring me back to the present. There are days I go on walks and am not sure how I got back home. It’s even scarier when it happens while driving. I set myself on autopilot and just go. Noticing requires a repositioning, a reset. Noticing brings me back to my body. Noticing takes me from then and when to here and now. Back to this moment, back to the space I am in.

So, I notice the birds. I notice the geese flying in formation not worrying but trusting. I notice the hummingbirds (there will be a whole post on these my new pals of mine). I notice the bumblebees flying in and out of the hosta blooms. I notice the hawk sitting on the power line. I notice the butterfly in the garden I’ve created. I notice the nuthatch and the cardinal and the robin.

Maybe it’s time to get my own bird book. Because when I notice you, little bird, I want to know your name.


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