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A bird sings at the top of a maple tree. I am standing in a park five blocks from my home, seven am. Who are you? I perk up my ears to locate the sound. The desire to see this bird mounts, and I feel my muscles tense; my attention to my surroundings funnels to this rough yearning. Yet she will surely flee if I approach in this manner.
Once during a visit to Algonquin Park, a friend introduced me to the practice of bird language , or the awareness of sounds and movements that not only birds but other wildlife understand as a monitoring system of peace and safety. It’s also a way for humans to monitor our own inner system. Birds perceive single-minded movements as aggression. The tensions that come out through body motions read as a possible predator, a disturbed vibration in the cosmic order. After, I would sit in green spaces close to my home to listen to the morning symphony and walked on Mont Royal. When I entered the forest with a busy mind and gruff body motions, the birds kept quiet and hid. When my tensions and mind calmed, trills and colours soon emerged from the density of green.
Back in Hamilton Park, I breathe, slow my steps. My jaw is tight, my shoulders lifted. Relax. I breathe again, into these body parts until they feel open and peaceful. Squirrels bicker, cardinals call out. My heart slows. I walk to the maple and follow the line of the trunk with my binoculars. And I find her, a white chested bird high in the jade leaves. At home I will search my field guide and listen to bird calls on the internet. Will I find a match? I don’t know. I’ll notice my shoulders lifted, my jaw tight. Relax. And a wild peace will fill me again.
For more information, see wilderness and nature awareness programs in Eastern Canada:
Nature Mentoring Training in St Saveur, QC
Sticks and Stones Wilderness School in Ontario
White Pine in Maine