Edited to add a link to Renee over at FIMBY, a favorite blog of mine, as she’s doing a fun Savoring Summer series of posts … I’d already written this one but it fits the theme rather well, so go on over and check it out!)
I’m glad it’s raining. The damp plants smell good through the window, the sound of the rain somewhat masks Fynn’s banging up in his loft, and Douglas’ burping practice, and I don’t feel guilty for not getting the boys outside yet today. It’s also making it easier to savor the delightful two hours I spent with my family in the Park last night.
We went there just before dark, to join in a Bat Tour of the park with a well-informed naturalist who lives in the neighborhood. We got there right on time (a minor miracle) and had 20 minutes or so to relax before things started. The tour guide started talking about what he was seeing, feeling, and hearing, what those signs meant for our chances of seeing bats. The chimney-swifts were pointed out, and how that they came out not long before the bats, and the more of them there were, the more bats we’d likely see. The humidity and temperature, the cloud-cover, the time of sunset, the types of fireflies and how they interact with each other.
While my head started spinning a bit with information, my awareness of what was going on around me was heightened. I didn’t really see the dog-walkers and tennis players and blanket-loungers on the hills, I was focused on the trees and birds and insects, heard the breeze change, and gradually felt the temperature fall. Then I got hit with a sudden wave of perfumed air that smelled like a combination of jasmine and honeysuckle, and recognized it as a scent I’d wondered about one evening the week before. It happened right at sunset, which I’d never noticed before. I found out later it was the linden tree, which happened to be flowering.
With every passing minute, I relaxed more and more. No agenda but to experience and see and hear. My boys got a bit antsy until we started moving around and they could catch some fireflies and get buzzed by a bat or two. They loved hearing the bats too, as the guide had an echolocator that made their chirps audible to humans.
I realized that I’d seen bats many times before, but never really knew what they were, just tagging them as those crazy zig-zaggy birds you see around trees after dark. I stopped, savored, and actually saw them for once. It made me realize how little I slow down and just see what there is to see, with no agenda. It might be a silly detail, but I’d left my phone at home too, which made me feel more free. It wasn’t a deliberately for that reason, the stupid thing just won’t charge properly anymore and I haven’t been able to replace it. It helped me though to feel completely unplugged and unreachable, despite the fact that I was in the middle of a NYC public park.
Next time, and yes there will be a next time for park-in-the-dark with my boys, we’ll bring a jar so the fireflies can come home with us. It left me feeling as clean and calm as my back porch after a hard rain.
Hope you find some time to savor the outdoors this week, it’s well worth the time!