After sledding, before snowshoeing: try Waiting

| 29 Dec 2014 | 04:27

Sometimes you don’t have to go anywhere to go somewhere. It finds you. Or you can find it, if you just wait and look. Like those deer that walk through your yard – in a village. Or even the bear that passes through (gulp).

The Waiting is the first part of this. That is not a favored part of contemporary living.

We are often urged to Do, to Go, to Act. It’s our personal form of the 24/7 news station. So waiting, watching, noticing don’t seem quite as valued. They make us seem confused, indecisive. Well, it’s all a part of our old hunter/gatherer makeup.

The changing seasons help with this. Each gently brings us back to a few simple truths:

Things change, things decay. Wonder comes and goes and comes again. That coming again is what this is about. We don’t have to do or go anywhere. It finds us. This winter season is particularly good for being found and finding. The snow highlights and flatters winter birds and reveals the tracks of night visitors. That snow makes the stealthy visible.

So just before or after all the winter Doing, the sledding, skiing, snowboarding, trekking, hiking, snowshoeing, skating, take a breath or two and look around. Find those tracks: the skunks, raccoons, foxes and your neighbor’s cats. (Someone mentioned seeing a catamount around here!) Spy those birds. Besides the smaller yard birds you can lure to your feeders, there are black and turkey vultures, crows, osprey, eagles and lots of different hawks.

If you missed the Audubon Christmas Bird Count a few weeks ago, you can still get in on the Great Backyard Bird Count from February 13-16. And for years, Tom Lake at the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has been putting out a weekly diary, The Hudson River Almanac, of who’s seen what, where in the region.

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Daniel Mack