Today I visited one of my favorite Sit Spots in town. An easy bike ride to the river, I rolled up in a big way. I was on the phone with my mom, headphones in my ears and talking loudly into the tiny microphone as I biked to a shady spot along the dirt trail adjacent to the river, autumn leaves crunching under foot and under tires. I heard my own voice raise as I got defensive, errr... passionate about the age-old nature versus nurture debate, with my mom asking me whether horses experience chemical imbalances that lead to mental health issues in the same way as humans. Subject matter aside, it wasn’t our topic of conversation that changed the dynamics of my arrival into the woods, as much as the energy it conveyed. During our hour-long conversation and for the next hour after that, I could hear no birds. Where were the birds?
Was it the time of day? Were they all sleeping elsewhere? Were they taking respite in the heat of the mid-morning? No, the birds weren’t resting quietly elsewhere, they were avoiding my presence and the energy I took to my Sit Spot. I had created what’s known as a 'Bird Plow.' As you might imagine, a Bird Plow is just that – a pushing away of birds the way a snowplow removes snow. While it might seem “normal” for a human entering a natural area to scare away the woodland creatures, it usually doesn’t create such eerie stillness. And sometimes, it just all depends on the nature of the arrival. Centering oneself and calming one’s energy, while taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the landscape, is a great way to arrive to a Sit Spot. A Sit Spot is a place where a human goes to be in nature, listen to the birds and other sounds, try to see patterns in what one is seeing and hearing, and becomes familiar with the ecology of that place over time. Most of the time I arrive to a Sit Spot, there isn’t much disruption in the birds due to my arrival. They will generally resume their activities within a few moments, or seem to not notice at all. Today was a different story. My Bird Plow drove away the birds for over two hours. I can’t help but wonder about the unseen, unspoken manner of arrival of how we humans show up. Whether it’s to a Sit Spot in nature, or to our jobs, or when entering a room of strangers, or when greeting our partner after a day’s absence.
How we arrive matters.