Monday morning movement

A young red-bellied woodpecker lands on the tree trunk with a whoosh… A hairy woodpecker scrapes bark from another tree while a downy woodpecker trills nearby… Bluebirds chortle and warble as they fly across the yard – the first sounds in the composition of this new day.

Titmice survey the garden, hopping from tomato to squash to hops, as the wrens announce the arrival of the rising sun, now dappling the yarden with warm spots of light. A hummingbird buzzes by inspecting the pink-purple coneflowers then moves on to dip her long bill into the red tubes of bee balm – a symphony slowly developing.

Female hummingbird on bee balm

Long, deep drumming sounds from the woods down by the creek, again, then again – a pileated woodpecker roll call. Soon, an Eastern phoebe repeats its name as common crows caw in the distance. Brown-headed nuthatches chitter and whistle as they vie for space on the bird feeders – the movement rising with the sun.

A lone squirrel perches in a sunny spotlight on a branch of the “hoplar” tree wondering how to get to the bird feeder a dozen yards away. As the moving traffic drones in the background, telling of people headed off to work on this Monday morning, the goldfinches arrive with a twitter to pick seeds from the black-eyed Susans. The symphony builds as a Carolina wren lands on a post above the vegetable garden booming, “Tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle!”.

The colors of bee balm, cosmos, zinnias, tickseed, black-eyed Susans, yarrow, milkweed, and Echinacea beckon the bees, butterflies, and bugs to come closer and sip their nectar of summer. As the bees buzz and butterflies probe, a chorus of young chipping sparrows and house finches beg for food from their busy parents, blending sounds and sights in this masterpiece of transformation.

One of my meditation teachers has said that change is temporary, but transformation is permanent. Just over one year ago this yard was a lawn with a few trees. Now it has been transformed into a wild, diverse, complex ecosystem, a place literally buzzing with life. This morning as I sat cross-legged on my deck listening to its music, I felt a deep sense of accomplishment and awe. This has been a true transformation for the land and the plants and animals, but also for us, for me.

As our plants grow roots and get stronger, creating the foundation for bright blooms, green leaves, and interactions between and among so many species, so, too, do our roots deepen. Not just the roots connecting us physically to this place, but the roots of stewardship and care, love and shared experience, the roots of growing together with the plants and animals, soil and sun, and with each other.

I hear a loud tapping close by and look up from my journal to see a pileated woodpecker pounding on a dead branch looking for insects. Suddenly she freezes, as though sensing a threat. Slowly her wings drop and spread, and I realize she is taking advantage of the morning sun to bathe in its warmth and bake the lice off her body. She preens and begins tapping again, her instrument blending with the morning’s music.

By the time she flies away the sound of the morning traffic has faded. The rest of the birds are quieter, too. Morning has broken and the yard is full of sunlight. The symphony has slowed – diminuendo. The bustle of early morning has given way to calmer, quieter patterns of daily life, and it is time for me to get dressed and ready for my own daily duties. As I do, I know I will carry with me the music and energy, the awe and admiration, the gifts of being and learning and growing that I’ve witnessed and felt here during this Monday morning movement of the grand symphony of life.


  1. The picture of your yarden in bloom is unbelievably alive and gorgeous! Transforming your yard into your yarden seems to have happened so quickly when you think of a time span of only 12 months or so. Your hard work has paid off and I so appreciate you sharing Pokeberry Pines with all of us!

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