There’s a corner of our veranda that faces west, where Peter and I like to sit in the evening and watch the sun set. It’s a perfect spot for appreciating nature’s display. Besides the sunset, we enjoy watching the many birds that hang out in our yard, as well as our chickens. Last night, a hawk was in the neighborhood. He swooped over our house a couple times, but the chickens saw him and ran for cover when he got too close. Chickens may have little brains, but they have a powerful instinct when it comes to survival.
One of our chickens—we call him the loner—just doesn’t like to be in the chicken yard. She flies out every chance she gets. Luckily, our dogs have gotten used to her and leave her be. Funny thing is she often stands on the outside and stares at the other chicken wistfully. For all we know, the loner is low in the pecking order and keeps to herself to avoid being harassed by the rest of the flock.
At night she roosts in a tree. It’s really funny to watch her walk around the tree like she can’t remember how to fly. Last night she spent 10 minutes walking around the tree. Sometimes she’d stop and crouch like she wanted to take off, but then she’d think better of it and circle the tree trunk a few more times before working up the courage to flap her wings and fly up to a branch.
Last night I also spotted a few bats swooping around as dusk fell, eating up mosquitos—and we have plenty of those. The wind picked up for a while, and I closed my eyes and let it blow my cares away. Once a wise teacher, who’s also a horsewoman, taught me to close my eyes in nature and listen to the sounds and the directions they come from. It’s a great exercise is mindfulness. So often we block out sounds that aren’t important. But connecting with nature this way brings me peace.
Lately, a mockingbird has been singing its heart out day and night from a tree in our yard. I suspected that’s what I was hearing and went online to be sure. The mockingbird, as its name suggests, sings songs that mimic other birds. His repertoire is vast, and the phrases of the songs sound like they come from different birds. Google it and the next time you are in nature and you hear the mockingbird sing, you’ll know who it is.
Nowadays there are many ways to be mindful: yoga, meditation, even apps on your smartphone can help you chill out for a while. For me, nature is the best anti-stress remedy. Every season has its special gifts—from fall foliage, to winter snow, to spring blooms.
Summer is prime time for outside activities. Plus life slows down, it seems, and we can treat ourselves to more time in nature. So what are you waiting for? Grab a beach chair and settle into the sand. Close your eyes, listen to the waves, and feel the breeze caress your cheek. Take a dip in the sea. Get in touch with your inner child. She’s been waiting for you to say hello.