Friday, August 15, 2014

IOTUT -- Unplug and connect

Squirrel hanging out by the pond
Is it me or do Fridays roll around awfully fast these days? It seems like just a couple of days ago when I was advising you to ditch the tissue and embrace the greener option -- hankies.

It's Instead of This, Use This Friday. This week, I have a rather unusual tip. It involves disconnecting from electronics and connecting with nature.

Nuthatch enjoying the fresh seed

This past Saturday, I found myself sitting on my porch for hours, enthralled by the menagerie of birds and other wildlife in my backyard. I'd just filled the feeders with a new seed mix I'd purchased the day before and, for some reason, it drew the birds like magic. We counted 16 different species of birds in those few short hours. They were accompanied by a few squirrels and chipmunks, all eager for a free meal. We even had a couple of deer wander past us. Here are the species that graced our presence:
  • American Robin
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Carolina Wren
  • House Sparrow
  • American Crow
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Blue Jay
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Mourning Dove
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Purple Finch
  • American Goldfinch
  • House Finch
  • Northern Flicker

Female goldfinch on line
Male goldfinch on feeder by playhouse

I was thrilled to see a pair of yellow finches and the occasional visit from the Northern Flicker always pleases me. With this wide variety of birds flitting around so close by, I felt particularly blessed to be able to watch them from the comfort of my porch rather than with a group of folks at the Audubon Society. For me, the day was magical. 

Blue jay and cardinal sharing a meal

The menagerie included a dozen or so cardinals, including a handful of babies. It was interesting to watch both mama and papa feed them. I didn't realize the parents still fed the little ones when the little ones were big enough to fly.

Male cardinal in lilac bush

So what am I suggesting on this edition of IOTUT? I'm suggesting you put down your phone or tablet, turn off your laptop or TV, and spend some quiet time appreciating the brilliance of creation. Hunt for bees (it's hard to believe they're so hard to come by these days), discover new wildflowers, stare at a butterfly... We had the most magnificent black butterfly visit our potted flowers on the patio. It had beautiful blue markings and was a joy to watch.

Bee on coneflowers

It's a simple thing, really. But doable. If you live in the city, go to a park. If your yard is void of birds, take a walk in the woods. I challenge you to take some time over the next few days to unplug and unwind. Better yet, take your kids along on a nature walk and leave your electronic devices at home. Find some time to truly connect. 

That's it. Instead of TV, watch birds. Instead of staring at a screen, stare at the gift of nature, in whatever form it presents itself. 


Even my cat, Theo, enjoyed the time with us outside. And he never once went after any of the critters. Good kitty.

Offering you alternatives and encouraging a greener lifestyle,

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