There are those moments in life when we’re in the midst of them that we know they’re going to be Top Ten experiences for us. There are obvious ones like your wedding day, the birth of a child, and skydiving. Then there are the more subtle ones; times when you first feel it way down deep – a magnificent tickle of joy that starts at your toes and works its way up your entire being, ever so slowly at first until it kicks up and races into your heart. The impact of these times is usually much less predictable. Sure, you had an inkling that it was going to be fun, maybe even pretty special. But after, you feel it in every fiber.
Just this past week, my friend, Devon, introduced me to a place that’s less than 10 miles from my house, yet that I had never visited in the almost three years I’ve lived here. It’s the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, a part of the Massachusetts Audubon, and it’s a beautiful collection of about 10 miles of walking trails, along which you can see probably hundreds of different types of birds and all sorts of wildlife. Devon and I saw deer grazing only 15 feet away! This place is pretty amazing, but the most incredible part is an experience you can have there that I don’t know where else you can.
If you stand with your arm outstretched and hold bird seed in your hand, birds will come and eat right from your palm! Black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, nuthatches. They’ll come, and they’ll eat. That’s my hand in the picture above with a cute, little chickadee eating and his friend coming to join!
About a year ago, a woman I had just met asked where I lived. When I told her, her face lit up as she exclaimed, “Oh! Have you gone to the Audubon Society and fed the chickadees out of your hand?” To be honest, I thought she was nuts. Birds eating out of your hand? Who am I, Doctor Dolittle? I humored her and let her gush, but thought it just couldn’t be true. If I could find that woman now, I’d offer her a bag of bird seed as an apologetic gesture.
I’m a bird lover anyway (I’m not ashamed to admit I cried like a baby when my landlord made me remove my bird feeder from my office window), but to have them literally eating out of the palm of my hand was such an overwhelming experience; a closeness with nature that made my heart sing. This was a Top Ten experience for me, no question.
I’ve already gone again since I first went three days ago, and I plan on going as many times as possible until the snow chases my little friends away. And I’ll be back at the first sign of spring with a pocketful of seeds.