Last Sunday I started walking the labyrinth three times in a row each day. I had thought that it would be hard. I’ve tried committing to a daily practice around the labyrinth before and hit significant resistance. This time around, things are different. Maybe partly because I’m completely in love with some tiny little songbirds that are frolicking in the trees these days.
It’s been hot, well, not as hot as what’s happening in the Midwest and on the East Coast, but it’s gotten warm enough for me to don shorts, a tank top and flip-flops. And these little birds seem to be thriving in it! Or something. Really, I have no idea why they’re showing up just now, but they are.
This morning as I am walking, four of them fly over my head to land in the branches of the oak tree that presides over the Mother spiral in my labyrinth. Nuzzling each other and fluttering about, making the sweetest little companion sounds, they compel me to slow and then stop, looking up at them as they play and call to each other. Then they fly to the redwood tree to hang out for awhile, so I continue walking.
Listening to the sound of the neighbor’s chickens squawking up a storm in the background, and the soft, but closer sounds of these birds, the running water of the fountain, the faint tinkling of the wind chime behind the guardian oaks, the sound of my footsteps as I move slowly through nature. Feeling the warm air softly raise the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck, and the prick of the redwood duff underfoot. Smelling the yerba buena wafting up as I walk on the bits that have trailed into the path, and the earth in all its fecundity. Breathing in life.
A swift rush of air past my head! I look up. It’s one of those birds, landing on the gateway arch to the labyrinth. Looking at me, then flying down to the top part of the fountain, looking for a way to drink the water. (The bird does eventually proceed to drink and then bathe in the water.) Then off to the redwood tree, hanging sideways and upside down, hopping about, the four of them now. Chattering and hopping. So enchanting.
I don’t know what kind of bird they are. I’m thinking they’re some sort of chickadee, because I often hear chickadees in the trees, but really, the sound of these (because I can see them and hear them) is not the call of a chickadee. It is something else. Titmouse? Nuthatch? No clue. I’ve got a bird app on my phone. I open it up and immediately get lost. I can see lots of pictures of lots of birds who look a little like my birds, but not quite, so I play the recorded calls to see if they sound like my birds, but no. So I come back out of phoneland to engage with the actual birds. I put the phone down and continue walking, in and out, in and out, three times. On the third time through the birds get very active. It feels as if they’re trying to attract my attention. They certainly have it.
So, I stay in wonderment about these birds, delighting in their soft grey/black and white coloring, the way they hang upside down on the side of a redwood tree, and their playful nature. Content not to know their names, but to know their spirit instead. To put attention on them in a way that is sometimes impossible when I “know the name” of something.