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wisdom of dogs, Issue #082-- Year of Equanimity
December 06, 2022

Early Morning

I love the golden hour when the morning sun warms my porch deck. The leaves of the nearby maple tree glisten with dew which evaporates quickly in the warmth of the morning light.

a backyard scene

Beneath the maple, a small fountain does its job, spilling a trickle of water from tiny water jug to tiny water jug. It’s barely 2 ft tall, inexpensively constructed from resin.

It’s not the grand fountain I once wanted. I have since discovered that thinking small could be a good thing.

Nearby there are several reservoirs and a few homes with elegant backyard ponds. These bigger bodies of water that attract gorgeous water fowl: egrets and herons, ducks of all sorts.

My fountain is too small to be of interest to those large birds, but it has become a daily stop for a wide variety of small birds.

This gathering of tiny birds is a favorite morning ritual.

I bundle up - or just grab a sweatshirt, this is the Carolinas!-- and head outside coffee in hand. I sit quietly in my chair, far enough away from the fountain to put the birds at ease.

And they come

The brown headed nuthatch is usually first.

Followed en masse by the yellow-rumped warblers, chipping sparrows, and an occasional finch. For twenty minutes or so the yard becomes a hopping, chirping mass of tiny brown birds.

Bluebirds and juncos are next, pushing out the smaller ground foragers.

If I am patient, I may get a glimpse of a tufted titmouse high up in the maple– noisy but wary.

Almost always there will be a visit from the sapsuckers. This year there are three: an adult and two juveniles.

The Carolina Wren is sure to show up as the party winds down. Not to drink or feed, but to assert its right to be in this space.

Preparing and Patience

The dogs must stay inside – and they are not happy about that. But life goes on.

I show up each morning. I sit quietly and I wait. I enjoy the show.

I can’t control who will show up. Some mornings, no birds show up. Perhaps a neighbor has set out a delightful feast at their feeder. Perhaps a hawk has frightened them off.

If I try too hard, fiddling with the fountain, they won’t come.

If I sit too close, they won’t come.

If I put out food (I did only once) I get a severe scolding from the wren who was not happy with the large flock of juncos that showed up, forcing out all the other birds.

I now respect the wren’s turf.

I keep the maple healthy. (I paid an arborist to teach me how to trim and care for it.)

I set up the conditions and I wait.

I can’t make the moment happen.

I can’t force the birds to gather.

I know can ruin it by trying too hard.

I wait, with patience. I accept what happens. I am learning equanimity.

The sun rises higher and the birds move on. My coffee is finished. It’s time to walk Sandy.

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