Life Lessons in My Backyard
- Written by Nancy Williams, LPC
I do so enjoy spring in Texas. OK, maybe I should qualify that. My sinuses could do without the pollen. But, while I deal with that nuisance, I also look forward to the gifts of beauty this season holds as God’s creative handiwork comes alive all around us. The spirit of rebirth and renewal. The aroma of new life. The warmth of hope that replaced winter’s chill. The process of pruning and shaping that makes way for new growth. And the amazing color palette that brushes across the fields and roadsides as wildflowers burst into full bloom and butterflies dance about. Unpretentious yet vibrant reds and golds alongside cool, crisp whites, and calming blues and yellows – the perfect photographer’s backdrop and a most cheerful welcome to the season. I love the colors of spring and I also love the sounds of spring. Conversations fill the air as neighbors emerge from hibernation and reconnect with each other. There’s the laughter of children as they set aside indoor games for bicycles and baseball. And then there are the birds. Have you heard them thanking us for refilling their feeders and welcoming them back? I’m blessed to have a backyard that’s inviting to these little winged creatures. I suppose it helps that my husband hung birdfeeders in prominent places so they know they’re welcome. Actually, the birds seem to know we welcome them but the squirrels don’t communicate that same warmth to our feathered friends. In fact, I frequently watch them all scramble for feeding rights. The blue jays and woodpeckers zoom in, grab a bite or two, and then perch on a nearby tree to enjoy the seeds. They seem to like the privacy of eating alone. The cardinals sometimes come in pairs and politely share an intimate meal-for-two. The white-winged doves and sparrows are more social groups, often crowding around the feeders and making a place for all to enjoy both food and company. Once they’ve enjoyed their feast, they retire to a nearby tree to relax and hang out together for a while. They remind me of favorite get-togethers with family and friends. The squirrels, however, are a different story. They arrive in the morning for breakfast and then scamper among the trees. They may go off for a while but are soon back for a snack. Once they spot the birdfeeder hanging from the porch’s upper ledge, they begin their trip to the meal table by scaling a large elm nearby and racing to see who will make it to the finish line first. The branches come close enough to the porch so it just takes a stretch for them to reach the screen. Cautiously, they scale the web of wire until they come close to the feeder. With determined spirit and a confident leap of faith, they hit their mark where they nestle in for a leisurely meal. Never mind that there may be a number of birds waiting in the tree for their turn. Squirrels don’t seem to share well with others. Wanting to be sure everyone gets to eat, I’ll get the squirrel’s attention and warn that its time at the table is up and others are waiting. Unfortunately, my attempts to speak up for the birds only sends them flying away. But not the squirrels. Oh, they may run off a bit if I get close or make enough noise, but before long, they’re back for another bite. My attempts are often met with defiance: They just don’t quit. I suppose there’s a lot we can learn about life as we observe God’s handiwork, as we enjoy the gifts of nature, and as we care for His creation. Perhaps those determined squirrels can teach us about boldly going after what we want in life, taking risks, keeping our eye on the prize, and pressing through obstacles to achieve goals. The doves remind us to make room at the table and share what we have, and also take time to be still, relax, and enjoy what God has provided. Then there’s the scorpion we found yesterday in the bathroom. Hmmm. I’m not sure about the lesson there, but that’s a story for another time! Nancy Williams, LPC is a licensed counselor, life coach, speaker and writer. Send questions or comments to her at www.nancywilliams.net.