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I heard someone remark recently that, instead of January 1, she thinks of the first day of spring as the first day of the new year, and I immediately resonated with this. Noticing a group of robins landing in the yard in the late afternoon of the last full day of winter this year seemed to affirm this – a group of red breasted birds gathering like revelers in Times Square, waiting for the equinox ball to drop.

One of my pandemic proclivities has been bird watching, and the last couple of weeks have been a flurry of activity here. The chickadees that survived the winter with us have in recent days been joined by the aforementioned robins, plus a family of goldfinches, and a number of pine siskins, nuthatches, titmice, and an occasional downy woodpecker. Just this past week we heard, then finally saw, the first pair of mourning doves of the year, as well as a single red-winged blackbird.

With practice, the bird visits are becoming the perfect way to punctuate my work hours – and all hours – with moments of mindfulness. One bird at a time, I notice their arrival, notice their beauty, notice my excitement, and willingness and even longing at times to be distracted from whatever I’m working on, notice my joy at their arrival, notice the occasional brief glimpse of disappointment when they fly away.

Happy New Year, everyone!