I spent my weekend free of online distractions, filling it instead not with music or some other distraction, but with the natural sounds and sights of the forest around me for company. Now that spring is here, the woods are getting noisier again and are a far cry from the silence of winter, even one in which that season never fully arrived.
The pileated woodpeckers are still screaming around my cabin, screaming at everything in sight, whether vulture or dog or blue jay or me. Nothing gets by them and everything is cause for alarm. I have seen them in two different nest holes. Perhaps the female hasn’t yet decided which she prefers. Her mate proves his devotion and protection capabilities for his future family by his near-constant alarm calls.
I’d rather be distracted by the pileated woodpeckers than by news that isn’t very newsworthy, weather news that doesn’t show anything severe or by music that hides the sound of these everyday woodland dramas. I also stopped reading my newspaper during and after breakfast so I can watch what’s going on in the woods outside my door. It’s one thing to bury my nose in the paper during winter when it’s too dark to see past the back deck, but now that the mornings are light again, the news of the woods is a lot more pertinent to my daily life than the latest goings on half a world away.
Distractions, unfortunately, are a part of life, especially modern life. And yet today I find myself resisting the pull of the technology. Something that takes my attention away from what is happening around me is something that serves to separate me from my own senses. Television or telephones or computers are like a shield that prevents me from fully experiencing the life around me. Even important information and beautiful music draw me away from that, making everything that’s at hand less noticeable. It’s not just cellphones that distract.
This morning before the sun was well up, the vultures were coursing through the air behind the cabin. Some are likely migrants taking advantage of the strong breeze. Others are certainly local birds, perhaps kept from foraging by rain that kept the air heavy during much of the weekend. The breeze was just right for these big birds, strong enough to help them move around, but not so strong as to make fighting it difficult.
Juncos are still in my woods. The warm spring is not yet urging them to head northwards. They are twittering their spring songs, though, so the trip north can’t be far away for them. Also singing now are titmice and chickadees, towhees and cardinals, to name a few. I looked for warblers this weekend on the mountain but didn’t find any. I wasn’t really surprised by that, even if it didn’t stop me from looking.
The leaves are peeking out a little more each day. It is early for that to happen. The cooler weather of the weekend does seem to have slowed that progression down a little bit for the moment. Warmer weather at midweek will likely speed the process up again.
The only way I know of to keep in touch with my own senses is to use them, to feel the air and see the wildlife and notice how the rising sun slowly uncovers the mountain each morning. Those things are real and are in front of me. I never want distractions or entertainment to get in the way of that.