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Sunday Morning Meditation: by Christine Cantrell, PhD

| March 13, 2017

Back Porch



But I’m stubborn, needing to create my own way even when there is a path available. I have read about meditation, but never formally practiced it. It dawns on me that I don’t have to sit in a lotus position repeating a mantra, or join a meditation group. Just be. Present. Aware. I do most often while drinking morning coffee. And today, sitting barefoot and wrapped only in my fluffy robe on the back deck in the almost Spring equinox sunshine, even if it is only 22 degrees. 

Sierra on blanket

First, I fill the bird feeder and scatter seed on the patio and the stepping stones under the small pergola covered in dead clematis vines. This is our daily rhythm. Open the garage and the birds start arriving, twittering (the original kind) to broadcast the news: breakfast! Lady, the neighbor German shepherd, whines at the fence for a treat, so still barefoot, I oblige. 

Back Yard in March-Eden

I uncover and settle in on a comfy, cushioned chair, feet propped on a teak bench. For the cats’ comfort, a western blanket in yellows, oranges and black and white bedecks the bench. The cats prefer softness and warmth under those icy paws. Sierra, a calico with colors matching the blanket, arranges herself on the blanket, paws and tail neatly tucked beneath her. She blinks sleepily in the vast sunshine. It’s almost the Spring Equinox and we are pretending spring is really here.

House Finch

Pictures I take of this season look miserable when I review them in the

young goldfinches

green lushness of summer. What was I thinking? Those shots look like winter: brown branches, a little green grass, empty of life. The growing promise appears hidden in bare branches. In this case, it’s hard to capture

St. Francis and Black Squirrel

the experience in a photo, even if it is worth a thousand words.

In the chill and light, my coffee radiates a stream of steam, curling and eddying upward in the light breeze. I notice my breath condensing as I exhale. I wear a sunhat, grateful that I need to shade my eyes after months of dimness. Still, I sit and sip, watch and listen. I hear them first.

A scout chickadee arrives to sample seed. Then sparrows and finches chirp, and grackles rasp, a chorus building.

Sparrows on roof

“Toodla, toodla!” A blue jay interrupts and the congregants quietly listen. I see the soloist perched at the apex of the largest wisteria begins a song battle for nesting territory and all others become silent. “Cheer! Cheer!” The blue jay cycles through a repertoire of 4 different sonorous calls, repeating each one, so everyone hears. “Mine, Mine, Mine”is the

Blue Jay

Google translation of his trills. A second jay silently joins him, a few branches lower. A solo cardinal sings a two note call from the silver maple grove two yards south. They alternate like a church litany, call to life. It is Sunday! I’m in Eden and my congregation has gathered. The calls ended, the jays and cardinal fly off. 


Grackles waited high up in the twisty locust tree, their black, sleek feathers warming in the sun, now swoop down on the pathto feast. Starlings screech “chuck, chuck,”flocking to the seed, and sparrows follow. Two fluffed robins, with somber brown wings showing off orangeyred vests, patrol the grass. A grackle calls “birdee! birdee!”

Benny, the slender, sleek, black cat, begs me to come out of the house. I release

Benny in grass

him from the door wall. He transitions from indoors to out, from observer to participant. He purposefully walks the yard’s perimeter, updating and checking his “newsfeed” in this living Facebook. After rounds, I’m allowed the rare privilege of picking him up. My soft, fluffy robed lap, meets his approval and he kneads my thighs, purring. I am permitted to lightly stroke his short coat,

squirrel prey

now littered with dust and debris from his wake up morning wriggle on the concrete step. Soon, he leaves chattering to himself, stalking a squirrel standing on the shoulders of St. Francis beyond the patio. 

I don’t know how a flock of birds silently communicate, but abruptly, immediately, soundlessly, they all rush into dense foliage of the spruce tree or flee the yard completely. What triggered that? I don’t see a hawk, but I’m usually the last to notice. The Coopers hawks

Coopers Hawk

and Peregrine falcons are frequent customers to Christine’s Bird Feast and Hawk Hunting Training Ground.

Downey Woodpecker

I probably won’t see flamingos or polar bears in backyard Eden. But my morning coffee meditation reveals to me a diversity of birds I am amazed come so close. Everything from finches, Baltimore orioles, Bobwhites to seagulls and screech owls. In fact, a neighbor saw a Bald Eagle last week 3 blocks away!

Peregrine Falcon – Takeout


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