How Animals have Taught Me to Live in the Moment

It’s really amazing how much life I have missed while living in the sinkhole of the past and the fear of the future. I’ve mentioned change before in other blog posts, but I need to make it clear that this is not rhetoric. I am finally learning the absolute joy and freedom of living in the moment.

Instead of being sad that I have been too sick to do much during the past month, or dreading the uncomfortable physical effects that the warmer seasons usually bring, I am breaking the chain and trying to see, hear, touch, smell and taste the life going on now.

Sing, Sing a Song

Nothing brings you right into a moment than music.

Ken and I planted a tree about a year after we built our house. We placed it right in center view from the living room windows. Nature rewarded us with the very things that we hoped would happen – luscious pink blossoms in Spring, a protective cover of greenery in Summer, and vibrantly painted leaves in Fall, as well as the gift of song.

Beginning in March, every morning begins with the familiar song – the melodious morning serenade of the spring Robin. Thanks to the time change (which I usually hate!), we now wake up to the soundtrack of birdsong. It’s a much gentler way to wake up than the tired mechanical tones of our phone alarms.

Indeed, it was a Robin who first visited the tree right outside our living room window two weeks ago. He discovered a full bird feeder and has returned every morning since. He repays us with both his song and beauty.

Our best customer. (Click to enlarge)

Our best customer.

This guy really is a fabulous-looking specimen – the contrast of his red belly, dark head and wings, and broken white circle around his eyes are just striking. My sister said he has the “crazy eyes.” Crazy, perhaps, but so beautiful!

These guys really blend in with their surroundings!

These guys really blend in with their surroundings!

The Mourning Doves usually show up next. Their haunting coos do sound like they are in mourning, but they seem like happy little birds. I know that these guys like to eat off the ground, so when I fill up the bird feeder, I allow some seeds to spill on the ground below.

Sing out Loud, Sing out Strong.

The birds aren’t the only animals making noise in the morning. I had to include this photo because for some reason, the Doves really grab the cats’ interests (see the red circle).

Only a thin mesh screen separate the mighty huntress Molly from her prey...

Only a thin mesh screen separate the mighty huntress Molly from her prey…

Some indoor cats make a sound called  “chattering” – a breathy kind of “eh eh” noise. There are several theories about why indoor cats make this noise (usually accompanied by the requisite butt wiggle and frantic tail indicating an impending pounce), but I think it’s a release of their adrenaline that they otherwise would used had they been able to hunt down their prey. No matter the cause, it’s really cute, and it’s just another way to alert us that there’s a feather convention outside.

New friends!

New friends!

Okay, now back to the birdies. This morning, we had the usual breakfast crowd of sparrows, chickadees and finches flitting around. The smaller birds are so cute, hopping haphazardly from branch to branch, sometimes getting into scuffles over who gets to sit at the “counter.” This morning was a treat, though, as I spied an unfamiliar bird.

What kind of bird is he?

DSCN0190 - Version 2
I’ve never seen a bird like this before. Here are some closer photos – do you recognize him? I apologize for the low quality of the cropped images. At first, I thought that it was perhaps a pet bird that had somehow escaped, but his markings suggest to me that he’s wild.

black_bird_yellow_eyes

As the sun rose higher in the sky and the smaller birds finished their breakfast, a couple of large black birds arrived at the feeder. They announced their arrival and got right down to business.

gorg_bird

At first, I thought that they were crows, but a closer look revealed a rather distinguished looking species. I wish I knew what they were, because they are quite lovely. Their feathers are silky and their bodies lean.

Sing of Good Things, not Bad.

I am so thankful that we’ve been allowed a sneak peek into the lives of these and other precious little creatures. The other day, I watched a little sparrow land on the tree. He hopped from branch to branch, finally discovering the feeder. After a few nibbles, he called out with a “chip chip” sound, then flew off. Within five seconds, he came back with two other birds, followed by another five or six of them. I’m guessing he is some sort of sentry, sent off to search for food and report back to the flock. I giggle thinking about them all sitting around, having their important morning meeting.

I know, I’m a dork when it comes to animals. There are two reasons why I will go out of my way to watch, photograph, and seek opportunities to see or interact with them.

  1. Animals live in the moment. They learn from the past, but don’t relive it. They plan for the future (storing food for the winter, building nests for babies) but don’t fear it.
  2. Animals are just so darn cute, even not-so-snuggly hedgehogs or stinky, waddling skunks. Ever see an otter break open a clam shell with a rock? Adorable! A bear scratching his back on a tree? Ingenious!

Sing of Happy, not Sad.

Last night, I had insomnia, so I was watching television downstairs. I had walked into the kitchen to get a glass of milk, and on my way back, stopped to look out the windows on either side of the front door.

Imagine my surprise when I spotted a huge fox trotting first down the street and then into my yard. At first I thought it was a huge cat or something, especially because he didn’t seem to have the normal reddish-brown “fox color” I’m used to seeing. He sniffed around the tree for a minute, but trotted off.

Not a moment later, a little skunk comes waddling in his direction. The skunk had his tail in the air and started sniffing around, too. Since it was dark out, I flipped the lights on and off to see if he’d get spooked but he just kept milling around the tree (he didn’t). I tried taking photos through the glass, but I couldn’t capture the image. After a few minutes, he waddled off into the night towards my neighbor’s house. I felt lucky. If I hadn’t had a problem falling asleep, I wouldn’t have seen these critters who usually avoid daytime.

No matter how old I get, I am never too old to learn new lessons. Part of me wishes that I could have learned to live in the moment years ago, but I think that I had to go through these life experiences to get to a point where I can appreciate the absolute magic and joy in life.

I need live more like the birds who visit us daily. I just need to “Make it simple to last your whole life long” and sing. Sing a song.

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