Faces of Wetlands: Northern Waterthrush

northern waterthrushPhoto: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The Northern Waterthrush is a small songbird with a brown back and a whitish, creamy underside with dark stripes. They winter from Florida to South America, and spend their summer at their breeding grounds from Alaska to New Jersey. They’re also a bird with of paradox. Despite being widespread, they’re tricky to find. Despite being called a thrush, they’re actually a warbler. Unlike most warblers, waterthrush feed on the ground. Instead of the canopy they prefer low, dense, shrubby vegetation. They specialize in wet spaces such as wooded swamps, bogs, and lakeshores. They prefer still water, but that doesn’t mean they like to stay still. Perhaps the most defining trait of the Northern Waterthrush is its constant tail bob as it strolls through the underbrush. One theory for this behavior suggests that the movement flushes out insects for meals on-the-go. Another says the bounce warns predators that this little bird is agile and attentive to its surroundings. Clearly, the motionless perching mourning dove is a better bargain for lunch.

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Letting Go: A Training Regime

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The familiar phrase “fake it ’till you make it” has recently been re-adapted into a popular Ted Talk. “Fake it ’till you become it” is a main message found in Amy Cutting’s talk, found here.

When I first saw this video a few years back, it was also a time I set upon a path of persistence, discipline, and a few injuries. As you’ll see below, the process of pushing one’s limits includes spills and days with no apparent progress. Now reviewing my footage spanning over a couple years, I see a theme that relates to Cutting’s ideas, but I also see that there’s something too easy to miss.

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Fall Phenomenology

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Fall is a great time to highlight the phenomenon of how we adjust and change along with the seasons. Yes, it’s an obvious metaphor, but wait! There may be something new! Fall is more than letting go and appreciating colors, it has deep implications for how we live, from our relationships to our economy. Now I don’t have it all figured out, but here’s a few thoughts to get the discussion going.

Like our ancestors, we live in rhythm with seasonal shifts. The accumulation of these shifts show us how when we’re set in a pattern or routine, things change. No matter how the change happens, life gets real sooner or later. We seek truth when true colors are shown on the landscape, and we discover a realization of our limits when these colors turn from green to red to yellow to brown. Gradually, we realize with more urgency that every moment matters, how the days are getting short and the air cold. We instinctively soak in the sun, listen to the leaves before the branches are stripped bare, and we prepare for winter. If survival once depended on it, this is when we get our butts moving! Correlating into our personal lives, this ancient rhythm kicks us moderns into gear too: communication finds clarity in relationships, emotions are realized and expressed, and confrontations are made, whether interpersonal or to a friend. Sure, these sorts of things happen all year round, but I wonder if the experience of fall has an increased collective effort.  Continue reading “Fall Phenomenology”