It was hot a few days ago, so I went out and refilled the bird bath with cold water mid afternoon, within a minute, a chickadee landed, took a sip then lifted her head high, and repeated that process multiple times while I watched her from the other side window.
Story: An oft told tale about my dad was that when he was young and out working in the garden – chickadees would land and sit on his shoulders for a spell while he worked. Knowing dad and his siblings that told the tale, it’s true. At home, our ducks followed him wherever he went, the dogs and cats sought him out wherever he was, content to just sit with him, or follow him. He had a way with animals and a stillness about him even when he was moving.
While watching the chickadee, I was thinking of dad and that story; and while the birds in my yard are happy to flit around when I’m working, or settle on a branch nearby, I can’t imagine any of them landing on my shoulder to sit for a spell. I think you have to be incredibly gentle, serene, have a stillness inside oneself and be in-tune with nature, to receive a gift like that from chickadees. Dad had that stillness, it’s hard to put into words what that means when I use that term, because I don’t have it, to be able to describe what it is. To me, it is either something you are born with, or being able to be at peace with what has happened, and what will happen, being present and doing the best you can. Perhaps it is a combination of both, and living life in a measured, slow, deliberate and thoughtful manner. I would like to have that stillness, but I don’t know if I ever will reach that level, sometimes it seems within my grasp, moments of stillness, but then it’s gone.
Back to the birds. I love the spirit of the birds that visit my yard; from the itty-bitty bush tits no larger than my thumb, to the humming birds that visit the flowers and butterfly bush, the chickadees, wrens, pine siskins, sparrows, finches, warblers, starlings, towhees, varied thrush, robins, grosbeaks, stellar jays, downy, flickers and pileated woodpeckers, and one of my favorites, the crows. What they all have in common is their strength and determination, their endless joy, grace and song – whether it is snowing and cold, raining, or sunny and hot. When I look at them I wonder how they can survive, but somehow they do. It’s beautiful reminder of how precious life is.
Stillness. Do you know anyone you would describe as having a stillness in them? Do you have it? Can you explain what it is? Is it something you’re born with, or a quality you learned? Or both? Do people still have it today, or is it gone from society forever? If yes, is it our never-ending quest to have more, attain more, never to be satisfied with what we have today? Or is our use of words that divide: me, our, you, their, those, they – instead of drawing together? Is it the racism and hate that pervades every nook and cranny of society?