I love to take photographs of nature. I love to record the beauty of plants and birds and insects and four-legged creatures. But the pictures I take are just an extra reward, a reminder of my experience. The best thing about nature is just being outside to enjoy it. And one of the best ways to enjoy it is to stand still.
That sounds silly, but only if you seldom observe people. People like to move. People are in a hurry. People like to do things…usually several things at the same time. Standing still for more than a minute is atypical human behavior.
I’ve been reading Sibley’s Birding Basics by David Allen Sibley and here are four tips, among others, that he gives for successful birding: move quietly, move gently, travel slowly, watch for movement. The first tip involves being quiet so you can hear the birds and their movements. The second advises you to keep sudden movements, particularly hand movements, to a minimum. The third is my favorite- “One can often see more birds by standing in one spot than by moving quickly and covering a lot of ground.” And the last recommendation is to “stand still” and look around at a wide field, not just one precise spot. His suggestions are useful for observation of anything in nature, from the smallest insect to the largest mammals. Yesterday, standing still and looking around allowed me to observe five damsel flies gathered on a plant. Standing still and looking around rewarded me with the sight of the smallest fawn I’ve ever seen!
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to watch many people in nature areas. Most love to talk, walk, swim, fish, play games- generally make noise and move a lot. Only in birding areas and fishing areas do we usually find people sitting or standing quietly, and they are doing so for a specific purpose. For a few moments yesterday I rediscovered the best reason for standing still- restoring my connection with life.
Standing next to the pond…
I found myself breathing deeply,
listening to the singing birds and splashing fish,
feeling the wind on my face,
watching the dragonflies flit here and there,
smelling the odd fragrance of wet leaves and dead fish,
and praying that my sense of peace and joy would last forever.