Have you been to one of those memory classes where they ask, “How many dresser drawers do you have?” and did you know? Or care? It seems that details, seeing them, creating them and remembering them opens the worlds around us. Details are the difference between the mundane and the wondrous. They are the difference between ordinary and extraordinary, between good and excellent.
Details amaze me or maybe it’s my ability or inability to observe and remember details. About 6 years ago I started birding. I met a man, my Peter, who was an avid birder and, of course, I became one also. I thought it would be a breeze. I was used to looking at and creating details in my interior design work.
|Booted Racket-tailed Hummingbird|
I saw him in Ecuador and look at his details!
I started out knowing there were big birds and little birds, colorful birds and plain birds, birds that flew and birds that stayed on the ground and I knew I liked to watch birds. I loved to listen to them. But I did not know many of their names or their field markings or which songs belonged to which birds. I knew a hummingbird but never realized there were so many kinds until we went to Ecuador. Peter had a lot to teach me! Maybe this was not going to be a cakewalk!
Over time, I’ve learned to look at bird beaks to see what they eat and to tell what family they belong to. I’ve learned that birds look different in different seasons and that usually male birds are more colorful than females (I already knew that!). And that identifying them requires accurate observation and knowledge. One day we were driving and saw several birds flying in the area. I remember having a rather lengthy, somewhat heated discussion about them because Peter said they were Blue Birds. I said, “They can’t be because they are not blue!” Well one thing led to another and I had to look in the birding book and of course, he was right. Female bluebirds are not blue. It’s a story that is still told at our house!
|Female Eastern Bluebird|
photo by Glenda Simmons Dec 2008
I would see a bird, look at it closely, come home and try to find it in the birding book. But I had not looked for the details that made it different from other birds (field markings) and could not find the correct bird. Frustrating. We would go out birding and Peter would say, “There’s a cardinal!” And I would say, “Where?” and so I learned to observe details and instead of saying, “In the tree” I would try to describe the area. Seeing the details is one thing. Sharing them so someone else can see them is another thing entirely and just as important.
|Male Cardinal - look at his beak|
Becoming a birder started because I wanted to be part of Peter’s world. Now I’m a birder because I see the beauty and the exquisite details. There is so much to learn from the world of birds. Because I am aware of those details, I appreciate even more details around me. I pay attention to the details in my art and know that I am better because I do.
Seen in Tanzania
“It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds.”