Tuesday, March 31, 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

    Coroner confirms West Davis deaths were murder-suicide

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Special playground dedication slated

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

     
    Solo crash kills Woodland man, 22

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Officials say Iran nuke talks will continue in new phase

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Police: Missing athlete died on freeway

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    French eye cockpit entry rules

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Bob Dunning: Wrap your head around our MRAP need

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

     
    ‘Old Autos’ at Hattie Weber Museum

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Davis tops list of best schools for the buck

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A4

     
    Lenten giving project highlights climate justice

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    DCCNS plans open house April 8

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Parent-child open house previews new Waldorf classes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Summer garden alert!

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Davis FFA and ag students host plant sale

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

    Poker tourney benefits DMTC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Camp Shakespeare begins Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Neighbors invited to adopt Willow Creek Park

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Yolo animal shelter seeks donations

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A5Comments are off for this post

    RSVP for Gerber Young Community Leader reception

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Pence Gallery recruiting volunteers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Move over, Muggles

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A5

     
    Tour de Cluck has selected its coops

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    CBH hosts Passover Community Potluck Seder

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    City extends nomination period for Huynh Awards

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Parenting class meets Tuesdays

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Meeting examines Northstar Pond priorities

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Pets of the week

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    .

    Forum

    Maybe he loves the outdoors …

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Why can’t we be friends?

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    A California comeback for gerrymandering?

    By Tom Elias | From Page: A8

     
    César Chávez’s peaceful civil disobedience forged a great legacy

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    A conversation about power

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Sports

    Over the years, The Show has been a reach for Davis

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UC Davis opens hopeful spring football camp

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    A very palpable hit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
     
    UCD roundup: Sleiffer seals Aggie tennis victory over Montana

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Grizzlies beat Kings to end three-game skid

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

     
    Snubbed Temple, returning Stanford highlight NIT semis

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    30 years of dance in Davis with Pamela Trokanski

    By Chloe Lessard | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Hear some April Fool’s night jazz

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Dance the night away at house party

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    ‘A Year with Frog and Toad’ a delightful family show

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Mischief to play at Picnic in the Park

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Yolo Mambo will play at winery

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Thursday Live! plans a blues party

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Jane Lynch performance rescheduled to August

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: B5

     
    Comics: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7