Yesterday, I looked out a window and saw a turkey in the driveway. When I went on the deck to get a closer look, it flew up to the maple tree in our neighbors yard. But then I looked up and discovered two turkeys on the garage roof, another roosting in the pitch pine, more in the spruce and small maple on the other side of the house–we were surrounded!
The one on the roof seemed to enjoy our conversation–it was looking at me so intently as I spoke. I wonder if this is the same family that visited often during the summer and played in the dirt in and near our future pond? They were younger then, of course. But maybe? If you look closely you can see two of them in the photo below, from their visit in September. This morning on my walk, they were out walking too. Perhaps the deep snow has disrupted wherever they were hanging out during the winter. But they look very fat and healthy. A visit from wild neighbors always makes my day!
On my walk this morning at sunrise, I heard the cardinal singing, and then, for the first time this season, I was able to see him up high in the trees. There is a symphony of birds each morning, that has been going on for a couple weeks–since around Groundhog Day actually. I read that birds have photoreceptors in the bases of their brains that record the length of the dark period each day. As the darkness shortens, and as days lengthen, birds get spring fever. Just like us. So their songs signal that spring is just around the corner. Or at least that we are halfway there. Maybe we in Maine should call Groundhog Day, “Bird Song Day” instead.
On my walk yesterday, I followed the brook trail by the Hall School. Then, as I was going along the road that crosses over the brook, I happened to look through the chain link fence to my left, and saw these huge birds resting in the underbrush near the brook. They had not been visible from the trail–in fact I went back to see if I could get a closer look, and they were completely hidden. Turkey vultures. I had never seen them in the neighborhood before, but while watching for several minutes, another bird emerged–looking scruffy like a juvenile. So maybe this was mama and papa’s protected home for raising their baby.
You never know what you’ll see in the little thickets and woods along the brook. Further along my walk, I cross over another branch of the brook. (My neighborhood is situated between two branches of flowing water that both feed into Capisic Brook.) Stopping to see what I might see, I almost missed this tiny bird. I want to guess that it might be a black and white warbler–I saw one of those last year on the warbler walk at Evergreen. But I am not sure. Anyone?
Yesterday, Margy found the binoculars, and I walked to the Evergreen Cemetery to join in the Audubon Warbler Walk. During the walk, this American redstart flew right up to where our group was standing next to the pond. I had never seen one before. How amazing that I was able to take photos of a warbler with my small camera!
I love the warbler walk because wise folks will identify and point out birds that I might not have noticed–tiny, and often hidden in thick brush, or in high branches. I am getting better at spotting them and moving between using my eyes alone and switching to binoculars. I can’t keep track of too many new species, though, so after seeing a wood thrush, a pine warbler and this American redstart, I made my way back home.
I am wondering, what is it about a screen tent that is so perfect for creating sacred space outdoors? It is somewhat sheltered from the sun and rain, and from biting insects. Yet, it is open to the earth beneath our feet, the air moving through the trees, the sounds and sights of creatures all around. So much of my connection to the land at our old home came from sitting outside in the screen tent hour after hour, day after day, paying attention, listening, sometimes lying on a blanket, often praying.
A couple weeks ago I put up a screen tent in our new back yard. This one is green–our old blue one had disintegrated after last summer. We had purchased this one several years ago on our last camping trip to Winslow Park–someone was selling it used at the campground, and since we loved our own so much, we bought it. So glad now that we did. Finally, this morning of the new moon, I came outside to pray and read my journal of this moon. Inside the tent there is a chair and a little milk crate table, and I brought a blanket to sit or lie down upon.
Today I have seen tiny sparrows chattering and feeding in the grass–I think it was a mother teaching her young one, because she gave it some food directly. I saw the shadows of cardinals jumping from branch to branch in the underbrush. The wild turkey came into the yard and rested beneath the pitch pine tree several yards away, and then while I was resting with closed eyes, she walked around, coming within a few feet–maybe checking me out.
I am reminded that I need to come out here more often in order to make a connection to this land which is new to us. And this is my sacred space, this little tent, this beautiful yard. I feel so grateful!
I was delighted to see this warbler yesterday on the trail heading home from Evergreen Ponds. The black mask identifies it as a male Common Yellowthroat. Meanwhile, I am adjusting my rhythms to July vacation days here in Maine. I have been sleeping a lot, and letting the disorientation of these open days circle me around to re-orienting my soul.
The last several months have been exhausting. So I have been napping and moving slowly, and watching Netflix. Today, I finally started unpacking a few more boxes–four boxes of books done–and soon we are going to the beach for an afternoon swim in this sunny warm weather. This morning, our next door neighbor brought over a gift of honey from their bee hives–now that is very local honey! Another neighbor introduced us to someone who mows lawns. There is so much still to do to settle in to this home. But first, finding my way back to new rhythms.
Every time I walk to the ponds at Evergreen Cemetery there is some new life unfolding. Today it was these four ducklings swimming with their mother near the edges of the pond, almost out of sight. But I also saw turtles sunning themselves on a log or a rock, frogs laying in wait for breakfast, and some goslings who are now adolescents still under the watchful eyes of their parents.
I don’t have enough time for this particular walk every day, but when I do take the time, my heart is enlightened by such beauty and vitality. Thank you!