At times it is very quiet here. Certainly at dawn and dusk. But sometimes in the middle of the day when the weedwhacking/leafblowing/lawn mowing devotees of the area are taking a break, you can hear amazing things. Today a flock of starlings (a startle of starlings?) flew chittering over my head as I stood in the backyard. What amazed me was that I could hear the combined sound of their wings moving through the air. I can only describe it, inadequately, as a whooshing sound.  I watched as they circled and wheeled. An avian precision drill team without peer.

Jon Kabat Zinn offers an  exercise on his Introduction to Mindfulness CD  that focuses on sound. He leads you through the practice, urging you to listen to the world around you. Take down the filters and be open to all sounds without judgement. It is an effective way of staying present and in the moment. When I am anxious or spending too much  time in my head ruminating, it truly does help me to stop, take a few minutes and just listen…

So I hear the hummingbird that sounds like a jet fighter as it roars around the corner  of the house heading for the feeders. I have stood right there as it hones in on its target , whirring past me. It is a distinctive somewhat aggressive sound that fits the outsize bravado of this tiny creature. 

At dusk, the bats come out to feed. Even though intellectually I know they won’t fly into me, equipped as they are with superior radar, still…they swoop in close sometimes. As one darts overhead, I found myself wondering – what if this is a baby bat flying on a learner’s permit, not quite up to speed about avoiding collisions. Is there a learning curve for creatures of the air? There must be. I have seen baby birds newly fledged crash-land into trees and feeders. Fluttering and flapping as they scrabble for stable footing.

Back to the bats…we have both Big Brown and Little Brown Bats here. I am always thrilled to see them as I know they keep our mosquito population down. Sometimes I hear them  clicking and pinging as they zig zag through the darkening sky.

And sometimes I just stand, listening to the stillness within.

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