The Gift of Awareness

“The great gift of our lives is the gift of awareness,” writes Edwin Way Teale in A Walk Through the Year.

How easily this awareness comes into play on an early spring morning, when new life is appearing everywhere. “Tree swallows are back and they’re checking the nesting box by the pond,” emails Wendy first thing. “Did you see the two herons down in the pond?” asks Marilyn when we meet on the road. “When I went to the dump yesterday, there were twelve turkey vultures roosting in an elm,” my sister says. There’s talk of swans, of song sparrows, and of the return of the pair of red-tails to our valley.

Actually, these days I feel almost overwhelmed by awareness. How not to stop when the turkey vulture sails over the valley for the first time since last September? How not to drop my pen and run for the bird guide when a lone, small, unstreaked sparrow appears at the feeder? Later, supper risks burning on the stove as I run out to listen to the liquid “oka-lees” of the redwings gathering down in the wetland.

It’s not just the returning of birds. In late afternoon it’s also the dazzling blue tree shadows stretching long across what we hope is the last snow. Certainly, there’s a new softness to the wind in the treetops as buds swell on the bare branches. It’s the sweet breeze through open windows. It’s sitting down for five minutes to enjoy the warm sunshine and staying for twenty.

“The only remedy for love is to love more,” says Thoreau. And so I do.


About Peri McQuay

Peri Phillips McQuay is the author of Singing Meadow: The Adventure of Creating a Country Home, The View From Foley Mountain, a book of nature meditations on her experiences living for 30 years at the Foley Mountain Conservation Area and A Wing in the Door: Life With a Red-tailed Hawk is the story of her adventures with Merak, a human-imprinted hawk, who lived free but saw McQuay and her family as her special people. Also Peri has written numerous essays, articles, book reviews and a weekly column, published in the Kingston Whig-Standard Magazine. Her credits include Country Journal, Harrowsmith, Bird Watcher’s Digest, The Snowy Egret, Seasons, The Fiddlehead, Herizons and Brick.
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