Monday, February 18, 2008

Holy Crow! Hope on a Morning’s Birdwalk

I’ve been thinking about global warming a lot these days, as I’ve started this blog and been asked to write an educational activity guide for middle schoolers on the subject. It’s a depressing topic—how do you unpack the science in a meaningful and hopeful way for young teenagers, giving them solid information while allowing for the possibility that life on Earth will continue?

To get my mind settled, I went birdwatching this morning in Saunders Woods, a nature preserve not far from my home. But even there, global warming was distressingly at the fore: the temperature was in the 50s, allowing me to go birding in February—the depth of winter, for God’s sake—without jacket or gloves. My mood was as dark as the rain clouds whipping across the dramatic sky.

But then it happened: a white-throated sparrow popped out of a rose tangle not far from me. A Carolina wren (in photo above) perched above it, and belted out a song. Titmice were suddenly singing on both sides of me, a pair of cardinals joined the fray, a mourning dove cooed, a robin flew overhead, and two chickadees alit on a branch above my head, one only two feet away from me. The latter stretched out its tail and wing feathers simultaneously, drying itself out from the wet night. I could see every feather in delightful detail.

I’ve birdwatched at this place many times over many years, and you don’t get many days like today. And I’m really not big on signs or omens. But, pardon the pun, holy crow, I felt like they had gathered around me to buoy me up—and it worked.

Surrounded by a dozen birds of many species, all arrayed around me in one rose bush, a multi-species cacophony of bird song, how could they not?

It’s like architect Frank Lloyd Wright once wrote, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”

This morning, the birds did not fail me. I went home to start writing.

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