And when a flock of bluebills, pitching pondward, tears the dark silk of heaven in one long rending nose-dive, you catch your breath at the sound, but there is nothing to see except stars.”

So writes Aldo Leopold in his A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There, a beautiful 1949 piece of nature writing. Aldo was an iconic woodsman, ecologist and environmentalist.

Reading his poetic lines you can just see him out in the marsh in the dark — waiting early or late there to hear and to wonder. Leopold is our model, our nature guru, our father forester who reminds us the land is sacred and the creatures sacred too. And we should wait on them.

This morning my wife and I sat in the family room looking out at our small backyard pond. We were waiting. We were waiting for the birds to come. We were waiting for some new migrating spring birds to show.

Sometimes seeing and hearing is all about getting in the right place and waiting, waiting for something to pitch pondward toward you, to tear the silk of heaven in front of you. To see you.

And sure enough, pitching pondward, a flash of color, a bright orange and black, a male, hooded Oriole. He landed on the trellis above the pond, all brilliant yellow-orange and deepest black, dropped aflutter to the water, splashed, and then winged back to the fence, rear end fluffy-wet and clean.

The first Oriole of the season! We felt so honored. And then as if that was not enough avian showboating suddenly brown phoebes were hopping on the ground all puffy and fat. And a white crowned sparrow lit on the stucco walland turned to show off his amazing eye stripes. And then a bit later a rare — to our yard — Rüfüs hummingbird darted into our blue plumbago, hovered over the pond and then in a reddish-brown flash — was gone.

When we planted all yard we planted for birds and butterflies. When we made a small pond, we made it for water lilies and water Hawthorne and duckweed — and birds. Doing so we tipped our hats to Claude Monet, Aldo Leopold, Emily Dickinson, Annie Dillard, Jean-Henri Fabre, John Bartram, God and other favorite environmentalists, poets, botanists and painters. 

What to do?

Build a pond set up a blind, or plant flowers, put out seeds and bread crumbs — and wait more.

The wonders are worth the wait.

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