Friday, March 6, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Consider the birds in the air

MarionFranckW

By
April 15, 2011 |

I thought the birds were my unique guilty pleasure.

Then, about a month ago, we had new friends over for dinner at our place in Lotus. I know they participate in more overtly spiritual activities than I do — at church and elsewhere — but I was surprised, nevertheless, when Marsha said, “I just sit there. Out of doors, listening to the wind and watching the birds. It lifts my spirits. I do it a lot.”

I have trouble sitting still like that because I feel I should be accomplishing something.

If I read in the middle of the day, for example, I feel naughty. Enlightening my own mind, if the book is serious, and entertaining my own mind, if the book is light, do not feel like legitimate uses of my time. I should be maintaining our home, helping other people, or working on my column.

But, like Marsha, I have a thing for the birds. I’ve hung four feeders in front of our cabin window and there I sit, watching the hummingbirds spar at each other, the goldfinches devour their expensive Nyjer seed and the bark-climbing nuthatches forage for dropped kernels.

When I glance at the clock, I realize I’ve been sitting for 20 minutes, accomplishing nothing, not even expanding my mind.

“Meditation,” some might call it. “Living in the present moment,” Marsha would say.

My counselor years ago used the same words as Marsha when she talked about how to reduce suffering. You get through emotional pain, she said, by making it smaller, by thinking of one moment at a time, not thinking about the ones that preceded it nor the ones that might follow.

You live in a series of short, distinct intervals, like boxcars on a slow-moving freight train, not in a rush of sensation, like on a bullet train. In trying to follow her suggestion, I realized I had already found one way to do that.

I kayak for many reasons, mostly passion for the sport, but occasionally I hit the river because the land hurts too much.

On a challenging river, you have no choice but to pay attention to the present moment, if you intend to survive. You use that moment to look for the next rock and the one after that, or the next lateral wave that might toss you or the one after that. Soon you’ve lived a whole day without worrying about whatever it was you worried about before you got in your boat.

Maybe watching the birds is the same thing, with less risk, because I can look away from the birds, start doing a task, leave them entirely, and I’ll still be OK and they’ll still be OK. However, if I leave, I also leave my moment of peace.

I went back to Marsha and asked if she really can take long periods of time to contemplate nature and not feeling guilty about it. She told me it sounds selfish but isn’t. When she returns to her day peaceful and centered, everyone she interacts with shares the benefit.

“Try it,” she said. “Go up to your cabin. Sit and do nothing, alone.”

I was worried about the “nothing” part so I brought my guitar with me when I walked down to the river to be alone.

It was sunny and the rain was so recent that everything was celery green. I played standing up, as the river thundered by at 5,000 cubic feet per second, happily covering wrong notes.

I started with the few songs I have memorized, and when I ran out, I simply strummed chords that please me. I’d think about which one to play next and then I would play it and then I would think about the one after that.

A merganser duck, a brownish female, emerged from behind some upstream brush and paddled to a rock about 10 yards from me in an eddy. She climbed onto the rock and sat down.

Ten minutes passed. I wondered where her mate was because every duck has a mate right now. In fact, as I travel the river in my kayak, I see a pair of geese or ducks on every beach and I anticipate a population explosion a few weeks from now.

After a while, a male merganser appeared — bright, white and robust-looking, with a shock of green on his head — and behind him, a second brownish female paddling demurely into the eddy. As I continued to strum chords, the two of them dipped their heads into the water. Then they hopped onto the same rock as my music-loving merganser and sat on the other end.

If the second female ruffled my merganser’s feathers, it was subtle — a slight turn of the head, a slight rearranging of the feet — and it was over quickly.

She stayed on the rock, living in the moment.

— Marion Franck lives in Davis with her family. Reach her at [email protected] Her column appears Sundays.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    ‘Topping out': Sign a building beam at the Shrem Museum

    By Jeffrey Day | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Life after lawn: Fifty greens for shade

    By Katie F. Hetrick | From Page: A1

     
    Bay Area developers join Mace proposal

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    Trial ordered in Davis child death case

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

     
    Got sun? Indoor herbs can thrive on windowsills

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

    How can we know that the products we buy for our homes are safe?

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Quick home improvements that raise your resale value

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Spring-clean your kitchen in five easy steps

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Dryers: Homes’ energy guzzlers just got greener

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

     
    UCD improving farming, food production with fewer pesticides

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: B6 | Gallery

    PSAs highlight area nonprofits

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

     
    Peripheral neuropathy support offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6

    Workshop eyes creating peace through creative play

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6

     
    Museum brick sales to end this month

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6

     
    Cabrillo Club plans membership dinner

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6

    Pig out at Pig Day Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    Porkers on display at Hattie Weber Museum

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    St. John’s shows off cuisine at brunch

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

     
    Seniors serious about fitness

    By Savannah Holmes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    .

    Forum

    Obama’s world is a dangerous place

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

    Some convicts don’t deserve parole hearings

    By Tom Elias | From Page: B4

     
    Here’s how to make college cheaper

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

    Dirty laundry on the company line

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B9

     
    .

    Sports

    Marsh provides radio images of a ‘magical’ Aggie hoops season

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Blue Devil volleyballers cruise in home opener

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    DHS girls track and field team reloads for 2015

    By Dylan Lee | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UCD women fall at UCR

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Aggie men clinch Big West crown

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Bella Vista slips past DHS softballers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

    .

    Features

     
    Rec Report: Looking ahead to spring break

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

     
    Wineaux: A local diamond in the rough, revisited

    By Susan Leonardi | From Page: A9

    .

    Arts

    Steve Kiser’s work on display at Gallery 1855

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Tables available at Vinyl and Music Fair

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel': Second-rate

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ auditions set

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

    Hugh Masekela and Vusi Mahlasela celebrate Mandela’s legacy

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    Learn from experts at ‘Art of Painting’ conference

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    Tom Brousseau to visit ‘Live in the Loam’ on KDRT

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Business

    Honey, we shrank the SUV — and Europe loves it

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, March 6, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B10