For a couple of weeks
I’ve seen glimpses
of a bird
I’ve never noticed before.
It looked
and acted
like a Woodpecker,
but I couldn’t identify it
from the bird books.
When I did my weekly bird feeder count
last week,
I let the good people
at Cornell Ornithology Lab
know about this stranger.
They wrote back
that it looks to be a juvenile
Sapsucker, which is in the Woodpecker family.
Considering where we are,
it’s probably a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker.Knowing this
brought me great delight.

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Juvenile Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker,
Getting a Drink Beneath Hackberry

Two favorite photos I’ve taken
this year,
are of people with their heads
bent into something of nature;
you can’t see their faces.

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Three Women Looking at Plant During
Women on the Prairie Retreat

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Participants in Simpler Living Retreat
Discover Lichen Growing on Bricks

These photos make me smile out loud.
The people are so keen
on seeing what they see
through the highly magnified
jeweler’s loupes
they are holding very close
to their eyes
and lichens
and plants,
that they are completely
absorbed.
They are not able to see
anything else
going on around them.
What they see in those lenses
they couldn’t see with the naked eye.
Looking closely, deeply,
into the unseen intricacies
of the natural world
takes them away from anything else
and connects them –
to the beauties of their home
that they didn’t know existed.

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Two days a week,
I count the numbers of birds
that come to the feeders
under the big old Hackberry
in the front yard.
(Every day
I observe these friends,
but don’t count.)
The counting and reporting
to Cornell’s Ornithology Lab
helps the scientists know the health
of the birds.
This work might seem incidental,
even frivolous,
in light of fiscal cliffs
and a mass elementary school shooting.
Rather,
I think it goes right to the heart
of our lives
together
on this planet.
It’s about connecting
and caring with
all on Earth.
What
and who
we don’t see
we can’t care with.
Two of the people in these photographs
are buying jeweler’s loupes
to give to their grandchildren
during the holidays.
And then they’re going to take
these little ones
outside
and show them their home
with their new eyes.