Bird-Song and Gardens

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What I am particularly struck by in this season is bird-songs and “the call of the wild.”  For days the sounds of Nature have not stilled.  Wild Turkey are shouting from the gully; Tree Frogs are singing; Crickets are doing I don’t know what, and somewhere in the distance “peepers” have joined the chorus. It’s twilight as I write; the meadow and woodlands are filled with ancient songs.  This wildness encourages me to be still, cease all that I am “doing” and just listen, imagine what all is going on out there.  These same songs fill the early mornings when I rise, go out to see what the garden has produced overnight.  Overnight, seedlings sprang up, flowers unfolded, and songs fill the air.  I like to think that it is the song of wild-life that makes a garden bloom.  (I too would bloom if someone sang to me, told me of the glory that lives inside the quiet).  Being quiet brings untold richness to our busy days.  Take a moment, be still, and listen to the sounds of wildness. You may be thinking that because I live in a wilderness area, this “call of the wild” is easy for me to experience, but I have had the same moments while living in a city.  Miami is a beloved city of mine, one that I called “home” for most of my life, and a city that I miss and long to return to.  Wherever I have lived, I have always created a garden for wild-life to rest in.  (I have come to know that it is in the giving, that we receive life’s blessings).  In Miami, I would wake early morning, sit at my desk and observe my garden, my habitat for wild-life.  This small garden filled me with the same feelings that I have here, deep in the woods of the Catskill Mountains.   One morning, a morning that I will forever hold sacred, my backyard suddenly filled with a Rooster (crowing to God only knows who), Wild Parrots who (hopefully) escaped from Parrot Jungle, and various songbirds and critters.  It was almost difficult to focus on my work; overnight my backyard had become a wild-life refuge.  A Rooster was strutting across my lawn; numerous Parrots were sitting on my wash-line; birds were feeding at the feeder and splashing in the bird bath.  No question, we were all in our glory.  If I didn’t create a refuge, they would not have come; if they had not come, my morning would have been empty.  Giving and receiving … We have lost over 50% of our song-birds due to the wide spread use of pesticides.  Wild-life is suffering because of our choices.  This saddens me for many reasons, but most significantly, wild-life has no choice in our decisions - they simply become “our innocent victims”.  Birds sing to us their most beautiful songs; they drop seeds while in flight, planting wildflowers that will sustain them, and us, in following seasons. Birds create beauty - nothing more and nothing less.   In return for their beauty, we feed them chemicals that silence their song.   I believe we can offer them something better, something worthy of their song. Perhaps if we change our approach to wild-life and develop a manner of “give and receive” (vs.) “give and take,” we won’t lose our song-birds.  In changing our pattern we will encourage “wildness” to come close and sing to us - to come to our gardens where they will be fed and cared for. If you would like to begin to develop an intimacy with the natural world, my suggestion is to replace chemicals with a garden free of pesticides; place bird-baths and feeders and perches where wild-life can rest; observe your garden, see who comes to visit / find out what they like to eat and provide this for them.  (Remember, they are guests - we should always welcome guests into our home and make their stay as pleasant as possible.)  Over many seasons, observing wild-life will become “second nature” to you.  As an example, I have an affinity for Hummingbirds.  Quite simply, they delight me.  I’ve observed they’re partial to Petunias and Thistle - I make certain that I have plenty in my garden to welcome them (and to fill my life with delight).  I love the Wild Turkey and know they find refuge in long grasses – I’ve let a portion of the meadow grow wild for their enjoyment.    Our Bees, who are in distress, love Catnip (which blooms abundantly from early spring until late autumn) so there is plenty of Catnip in my garden.  In truth, bees like most flowers - I suggest filling your garden with a wide variety “to dazzle the Bees” and to delight you.  (Without Bees there would be no pollination = no garden = no bird-song).   When we remember to care for even “the smallest of creatures” we are partaking in the natural balance of life itself.  Every living species is an integral part of the Divine - but it is only the Human species that has the power to invite the call of the wild, or to silence it. As a final, and perhaps most important suggestion, the next time that a bird “sings a song for you”, sing one back.  At first you will feel a bit foolish – but keep singing - the exchange will soon delight you both.  (And know that “in singing back” you have learned a new language).   Giving and receiving …

“If you talk to the animals they will talk to you

and you will know each other.

If you do not talk to them, you will not know them,

and what you do not know you will fear.

What one fears one destroys”.

Chief Dan George

Elise Muller, Proprietor / Artisan / Gardener Mountain Spirit Botanicals

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