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  • Leslie Milbourne

Pausing with Nature

I thought things would slow down a bit given our closure, but tasks are continuing to keep us busy in traditional and new ways with the organization, the farm, and adapting. I love seeing our students during zoom sessions, and we are developing ways to manage Wind Dance during the coronavirus epidemic. While adapting something beautiful is evolving. We have all gone into our cocoons in waiting and as we wait to emerge nature carries on with her splendid cycles and shows, and I am finding great joy and peace with her entertainment. I have found glimpses of time to sit and be still, observe and contemplate. I am usually guiding the act of enjoying nature when youth are here, and don’t really take time to simply sit and enjoy it for my own personal pleasure. I have relished getting back to my childhood tap root as it has slipped lose over the past years as the pace of managing Wind Dance and developing the education center heightened.

I now have time to take a pair of binoculars to the barn and pause on the way as sweet sounds grace the air. It is a joy to welcome the return of neotropical song birds from their winter homes and take time to learn to identify them by song. Being a visual learner, it is best for me to see the bird while singing to be able to identify it by song. It requires pausing, searching, and observing. Slowing the morning pace with an occasional stop is an adapted treasure, as I usually scamper quickly in the mornings to finish barn chores and skip over to the education center to prepare for students’ arrival. Without their arrival each morning, my slowed pace has increased my observations, which are often accompanied with pause. And the pause is happening more frequently throughout the day.

While gardening around the education center on a sunny and crisp afternoon I was called to listen, find, and identify a songbird as it sang its repetitive trill. It was perched on a cherry tree with emerging leaves allowing just enough space amongst the branches so the bird could be spotted. A quick decision and I put down the garden shovel and picked up the binoculars and field guide. I sat. I watched as a small rusty house wren went about its task carrying one twig at a time to a bird box and problem solved how to get the twig into the entrance hole. During each return it carried a long twig perpendicular to its little .38-ounce body. The wren appeared to be thinking about how to get each stick in the box tilting its head one way, then another, and after repositioning itself, with perfected aim slipped the twig in sideways. This was a repeated occurrence over and over, and I remained in awe with pause. Once in a while the wren perched on a post to sing its descending song without concerns and stresses surrounding the coronavirus epidemic. The wren also paused its construction tasks and I wondered how many trips it would make to build a nest of twigs. With that thought I put aside the binoculars and pick up the shovel. The little wren gave me a gift of peace, joy, and pleasure as I joined its journey. Thank you, wren. Pausing has been one way to adapt to living within the constraints of the epidemic, allowing myself to re-root my love for nature. Later that day I sat again. This time with a cup of tea and a book. It remains a mystery to me how connections in our lives are woven together. When I opened the book to read a passage from Mastering the Toltec Way, by Susan Gregg, I gleefully smiled and with a quiet spark said aloud, “Ah!” as I read the title: Day 81, Connecting with Nature. “…Allow yourself to be with nature. Let nature teach you about the peace and safety of the universe.” After adapting to a fury of events, it is a welcome to slow down enough to uphold that guidance.

Be well and keep yourself in safety. Enjoy your cocoon. If we pause with nature and become part of the show we may emerge stronger and wiser then when we went inside.

Sending love to all.


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