Tuesday, 21 February 2012

holding the wild: chickadee magic


I have found my new winter love (thanks to a dear friend): feeding chickadees from the palms of our hands. For several summers now, we have loved finding monarch caterpillars and watching them transform to butterflies. Well, this is our way to connect with nature's wild in the cold of winter.

I had heard about this before, but this was my first time doing it: standing frozen still, waiting for a chickadee to bravely land on my hand to feast on seeds.

It was magical. Eden stood with her eyes closed, waiting for a bird to come. I asked her later why she did this. She said, "I was trying to be a tree." Her patience amazed me - hand stretched out, eyes closed. Then when a little bird would come, a smile would creep across that closed-eye face.


Zoe found a quiet place among the trees to stand and wait.


Don't let me fool you, though. These photos do not tell the whole story. They make it look like there was just beauty and magic. But there was wildness too, and not in the nice sense. In the siblings fighting sense. Like "it's MY turn now!" or "You already had one, go over there so that I can get one!" or "I got 8. How many did YOU get?"

Do you see the jealousy in her eyes? It's there.

But what a privilege: to hold the wild, if only for a moment.

chickadee dee dee from Rebecca Seiling on Vimeo.


Song: "Littlest Birds" by The Be Good Tanyas

15 comments:

  1. My girls and I have been wanting to try this wonderful winter way to connect with nature! Have you read "That Chickadee Feeling" by Canadian author Frank Glew? A fun kids book to read together about this experience.
    "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin." William Shakespeare
    I'm off to buy bird seed!

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    1. Yes - we've had that book since Zoe was a baby - got it from a friend as a baby shower gift along with a stuffed chickadee that makes the chickadee's sound when you squeeze it. If you're ever in the Waterloo area, I'll take you and your girls to a good spot. :)

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    2. oh, and i love that Shakespeare quote! It's perfect.

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  2. I was going to recommend That Chickadee Feeling too. I've never been able to get a chickadee to land on me. When we were in Florida, though, the highlight of our trip was a visit to Gatorland where we were able to feed and hold parakeets and parrots in an enclosure. I'm intrigued by the blend of fear (will their feet be scrabbly?) and wonder -- wonder always wins, but there is a moment of uncertainty about making contact between vastly different species.

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    1. Love the book - read it when we got home. We'd read it before, but it was much more meaningful after this experience. Hey! I went to Gatorland too, but my experience with nature there was sitting atop an alligator and holding its duct-taped mouth. It made it look like I was really tough - like a gator wrestler - but not sure how much those gators like to be sat on with their mouths taped shut. A different experience of touching the wild, but those chickadees were willing - not so sure about that gator. Love how you talk about wonder and fear, and wonder winning. If you want to try again, go to Laurel Creek - by the nature centre - there are protected woods there and they're pretty used to being fed, it seems.

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  3. Love it!! The 42 and 49 year olds in my house would love that too.

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    1. Try it! I have a big bag of birdseed in our car now, just for those times when we have a few moments to spare to go to Laurel Creek.

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  4. Wonderful! The look in the girls eyes says it all. The millrace in St. Jacobs is another great place to meet the chickadees. I love the feeling when they land on your hand. I find I have to fight the impulse to move my hand because of the tickly feeling. It's also a great reminder that in order to experience moments like these we also have to take the time to wait and stand still! Sue

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    1. Sue - thanks for the mill race tip. We'll have to try there before the season's over. Yes - this was a good practice in waiting and stillness.

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  5. How wonderful!! Can't wait to try with my family! Beautiful pictures too.

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  6. oh, the joy in your girls' faces! this is such a wonderful experience, isn't it? my son and daughter did this during the fall...their patience sitting/standing/waiting was incredible. a bit of magic in the wild. so glad you and your girls have experienced this :)

    did you write that chickadee dee dee song? and are you singing? oh my gosh, i love it!!!

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    1. Yes - a wonderful experience, Michelle. I didn't know you can do it in the fall too! We'll have to try that.

      I'm honoured that you think I wrote or sang that song. Alas, it's a great group: The Be Good Tanyas, and the song's called "Littlest Birds". I'm sure you'd love their other stuff too.

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  7. Mark and I do this too! We went to Laurel Creek twice on the weekend! Surprised we didn't bump into you! I posted a pic on my facebook page with the comment - my fav thing to do on family day or any day!!! Magical for sure. Down near Cambridge a Dickson Wilderness is another great place! Also nice hike. We have had nuthatches land on our hands also and your hand literally goes down a bit because they weigh more. I can't wait to take my grandson some day. -Sharon Bauman

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    1. We'll have to make our way to Cambridge some day. Yes - what a great idea to do with a grandchild. Truly magical.

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