I got to take another walk last night. Sigh. It was in-between showers and just before a very cold front that brought snow today. I was struck by how many more bird songs I am hearing this week, and makes me long for spring. I know, this has not been a bad winter compared to those of you further north, but really, I am longing for the smells and the moisture of spring. Apparently this has been a rough winter by local standards, so I don't know what I was worried about! Anyway, I noticed mourning doves, which I hadn't realized have been absent from the soundscape of our neighborhood, but it must have been months since I have heard more than a cardinal or two and a woodpecker around here. On our trek to the Ridges last week the girls and I were treated to the screech of a red-tail hawk, circling high over the fields, and just yesterday as we were climbing into the car to come home from coop, we heard what we thought was a seagull but it was definitely some kind of medium-sized raptor (anyone know what that might have been?).
It has been a week of listening to more than the birds. I am reminded again of how much better our days go when I truly listen. Dan was talking to one of the girls about something he was reading that was reminding him that there is "hearing" and then there is "listening". I do a lot of hearing in our day - our house is loud. Screaming, shrieking, drum-banging loud. So it is easy for me to just tune out and forget to look for opportunities when it is safe for me to tune back in and really listen. When Eliza was sick we missed a coop day and had some catching up to do with writing a short story so that she would have something to work on with our guest writer this week. We don't do a whole lot around here that has to do with deadlines. There is little that has to happen in the course of the day. Eliza has made a deal with her piano teacher that she will practice for 15 minutes on 5 of the 7 days of the week. It is her own deal, and so she sticks to it pretty well, without much nudging from us. This is probably the only "have to" in her day. Occasionally I impose a "have to" in the form of a project I think we will all really enjoy and get a lot out of, and dontcha know, it doesn't usually go very well!!! But the zen of catching those moments and knowing when and how much to push is the subject of quite another post...So - the short story. It was Tuesday and coop meets on Wednesday, so we were down to the wire and Tuesday is our busiest day, with piano, Irish dance, and a reading tutorial. I took a deep breath and asked E again to sit down with me for a bit, to brainstorm this short story. Ooooh, resistance from a six year old is so very strong. So I suggested that we sit on the couch, and she draw a story from her mind, and tell me about it as she went, while I take notes. We talked about the key elements - character, setting, and conflict - and she was off! It was an awesome lesson for me in not inserting all of my fantastic ideas into her silences - I really had to consciously refrain from saying something every minute or two and just wait for the seed to grow. And it grew. We sat for an hour, and as I worked so hard to just be patient, and still and not fill in the holes for her, I wondered how many times I do that - supply the word, the emotion, the intention, the explanation, when what is truly needed is the silence, the presence, the space for these small people with very big insides to unfurl.