The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year – Margaret Renkl

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”

– Mary Oliver

I know that I am fortunate to have five senses- smell, touch, hearing, taste and sight- yet I sometimes feel like a car that isn’t firing on all cylinders. I have these marvelous gifts that are just there, wallowing in a kind of unconscious inertia. Margaret Renkl’s meditation on nature and its glorious aliveness offers a call to action. She reminds me of everything that lives and breathes outside my window, if I will just pay attention. Nature offers itself to us as the ultimate exercise in being present:

Am I intoxicated by the fragrance and memories of a lilac?

Is the touch of the maiden grass like a whisper or something else?

Do I witness the silence of falling snow?

Does the basil taste of tomatoes?

Did I see where the turkeys’ wings left their marks in the snow?

What experiences of joy, beauty, peace and awe do we miss when we don’t pay attention to this rich, sensory cornucopia that unfolds before us. As Mary Oliver says in her poem Wild Geese:

“…..the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting- “

Each chapter in Margaret Renkl’s book, with its lyrical prose and unique perspective, challenges me to harness all my senses and immerse myself in nature’s bounty. I must go out and appreciate what surrounds me now, but also take action to preserve this fragile, wondrous world that we live in.

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