Until 2004, I was an independent and active woman -- a former airline sales exec and then a high school educator. Then my body kept betraying me. I was finally diagnosed with ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease -- confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak. With life at a slower pace, I learned to live a more conscious and mindful life -- buying, eating and other choices. I listen instead of talking, and I observe instead of running and rushing.
Monday, March 27, 2017
A Scene Out of Hitchcock's "The Birds", But a Lot Less Scary. Shutting Up and Hearing the Bird Sounds
So I ventured outside last Sunday for the first time in -- seemingly-- forever. We had a blizzard the previous week and I could see the NYC Sanitation trucks that were deployed to remove the snow drifts that had been formed by the plows during the snowstorm. More than half of the corner curb-cuts were still impassable and the ones that were passable, were deep puddles of melted snow. It was messy to say the least, but the weather was mild enough to make it a pleasant walk. All in all, I was happy to have ventured out, because sometimes it's just so much easier to sit in front of the computer or TV [or a combination of TV and hand-held device] and let time slip away. I'm still so baffled when people ask me "How do you fill your time?". Even as a child, I have had no problem filling time --there's always something to read or watch. Even when I was a little kid and Saturday and Sundays were TV deserts [even in the US], I could find an encyclopedia or magazine or newspaper to amuse me. In fact, that's how my obsession with crossword puzzles was born. These days, there simply aren't enough hours in the day for everything I love to read, watch and do.
But this past Sunday on my outing, my aide was walking behind me, and I had no friend jabbering at my side. I had just my own silence and thoughts. And I noticed something I really never noticed. There seemed to be birds everywhere -- on the overhead wires, in the trees, and on roof overhangs. And there seemed to be thousands of birds flying in the air above me. And all around me, there was a loud symphony of tweets, chirps and caws. It was so loud that it was surreal!! It was almost as if someone hired an orchestra to replicate bird sounds, and play loudly all over the neighborhood.
Now, I should explain about the area in which I live: it's part of New York City, but it's in an "outer borough" of Queens. When tourists come to New York, they might fly into two of the three NYC airports -- LaGuardia or JFK -- which are in Queens. But the majority of visitors usually hightail it to Manhattan, and will see nothing but concrete and skyscrapers -- until they visit Central Park. Where I live, there are stores and apartment buildings [most of which are not taller than six stories high]. And the streets are lined with trees, many of which are a half-century old or more -- from the time when my neighborhood was carved out of farmland after World War II. I love some of the old oak and elm trees on my block, and lately have been disheartened by some of them being chopped down replaced by younger and shorter shoots. I guess there are diseases that trees get and from time to time they are chopped down before they fall and do serious harm. But some of the trees in front of my building are so fare and developed that -- when fully foliaged -- they form a leafy umbrella over my street when they meet a tree across the street.
These mature and stately trees are full of nests in the spring, for birds as well as squirrels. But that day, it really seemed as if the birds shared my thoughts: Finally, spring is here!! It was hard to tell if I was seeing thousands of baby birds or a combination of baby sparrows and the smaller starlings, but I saw a lot of babies flying low and on the ground, with cute little baby bird faces and softer, tuftier feathers. Why hadn't I noticed this beautiful noise before? Probably because I had so much of my own "noise' in my head. We truly have to all get outside, take our eyes and ears off the "devices' and just be with nature -- even on a city street. I didn't see too many squirrels-- maybe the little ones are still in their nests. But I love watching their antics when they do come out. It was nice to turn off the noise in my head and listen to noise of city nature.
Posted by Fern Ellen Cohen at 8:52 PM
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