I have to admit Chopra Center's 21-Day Meditation Challenge has not worked out for me. I had a terrible bout of insomnia the night before the challenge was to begin and had all I could do just to make it through the next day let alone meditate. I skipped day one with every intention of catching up on day two. Well that never happened and when I received the “we’ve missed you email” from Deepak I didn’t bother opening it.
Which brings me to my new calming hobby – observing Purple Martins - which I discovered quite by accident. Earlier this year my neighbor took a fall and was spending time in a rehab center. His Father’s Day wish had been for his children to drive to his home and take a couple photos of the ‘flock” of Purple Martins nested in his yard. Since they were unable to comply, he called wondering if I wouldn’t mind taking a few snapshots. I was happy to oblige.
Those first Father’s Day photos weren’t very exciting, so my husband convinced me he could do better and spent the next several weeks observing and photographing the Purple Martins. He picked out his favorite photos and we put a book together. Last Saturday when my neighbor returned home I gave him the book as a welcome home gift. He said it was the most awesome gift he’d ever received.
My neighbor has always had a passion for Purple Martins. His father had taught him when he was quite young to be on the lookout each spring for the arrival of Purple Martin “scouts” checking out the previous year’s nesting area. After spotting the scouts, the two of them would rush to put up their Purple Martin house. If the house went up too early they risked Sparrows taking residence and chasing off returning Martins. When his father passed away my neighbor inherited the Purple Martin house and continued the tradition. He was devastated a few years ago when the birds stopped using his house. He took it down and discovered the wood had rotted. The next year he erected a new house in the same spot, but still no birds. His colony had moved on. He then discovered The Purple Martin Conservation Association and added another new house with gourds based on Purple Martin Conservation guidelines. This new house did the trick; he now has a new ‘flock’ of birds that return each year.
Here are some of our photos:
The next day I filled my cup with coffee and took my two dogs outside. I sat on my bench next to my perennial garden with my dogs at my side. It was a beautiful crisp summer day. It had been another week of sleepless nights including one with a horrific wind storm that had downed a few major branches in our yard. The sailboats were out participating in a regatta and a lone duck was feeding on our shore line. I looked up and saw several Purple Martins flying overhead and really listened to their song. I counted ten birds. I put my head back and thought this is bliss. Several years ago after I had first moved into my husband's lake home, a friend had said, “Living on a lake you must feel as if you are always on vacation.” I had responded with, “No that is not what it is like, not at all.” As I sat there watching the Purple Martins, I knew this is what she had been talking about. At that moment I did feel as if I was on vacation. I sat there for another ten minutes taking it all in before I went back inside, back to my never ending to-do list. That night when it was time for sleep I thought about that moment; the beautiful day, sitting on the bench watching the Purple Martins. My mind was quieted and I slept.
Today the birds appear to be gone – left for their migration back to South America. It is sad to see them leave so soon after my calming experience, but I am already looking forward to their return next spring. I plan on joining my neighbor in his lookout for the Purple Martin scouts and anticipate observing them for the entire season and for many seasons to come. In the meantime, I will try to remember those ten minutes of bliss observing the Purple Martins from my garden bench when I need to quiet my mind and get a good night of sleep.