Friday, December 15, 2017

A Restorative View

Through a window I can view subtle changes in the garden with seasons and the weather as I complete my morning ritual. I notice when the leaves hang on longer in an unusually warm autumn.  And when the leaves have fallen I see a distant knothole through tangled branches of sassafras and dogwood. It is a hole in the bark of an oak where a branch used to be. I wonder what might live or seek shelter in there. Throughout the winter months I search for clues in the bare canopy. Could it be a downy woodpecker, a tufted titmouse or a black-capped chickadee? I often see these birds as they perch in the sassafras to hammer open a sunflower seed they have taken from the bird feeder.

When snow falls the trees have sleeves of white and frozen fluff settles in crooks and elbows. As birds flitter about they release clouds of white powder. Squirrels sit all puffed up against the cold, front paws curled as in a muff, their tails a fur wrap held close to their backs. When snow melts on a bright cold day in February, I notice the patterns in grainy bark and swelling buds against a pale blue sky. During a rain shower in March, gray-green lichen brings color and every twig glistens with water droplets. 

In April there is a red blush in the canopy as maples bloom. Mid-month a strong staccato warble can be heard. The house wren returns to claim its territory amongst the flowering boughs of dogwood and lime green sassafras blossom. The woodland is colored with unfurling leaves and the soft browns, beiges and ochre of oak. I witness avian drama in May. A great crested flycatcher dive-bombs the window from the sassafras tree. Is it fighting its own reflection perhaps? The wren builds a nest in the nesting box. This fierce little bird scolds marauding blue jays. Its mate is seen frequently returning to the box with caterpillars in its beak to feed a growing family.

The leafy green of summer is a restful backdrop to my ritual. The canopy closes in and blocks much of my view. The wren’s family fledges and sometimes it makes another brood. It seems that the Carolina wren sings more stridently once the house wren has flown south. The dogwood tree turns first in fall. A mauve seeps through its leaves and grey twigs hold next year’s flower buds, which remind me of Hershey’s Kisses. Peak fall color is heralded with the oranges, pinks and yellows of sassafras leaves.

Often in the fall, the drone of a leaf blower disturbs my meditation and I wonder why anyone would blast away leaves that sustain such a beautiful natural cycle. At the very least, a view through a window affirms my faith in nature.