Travel at a Natural Pace; Enjoy the Journey

Blackbird

The sky is grey but I am not dispirited. I sit and watch a flock of black-headed gulls as they swoop and wheel over the bare branches of a cherry tree. It is a cold, drab mid-February morning but there are hints that spring is not too far away.

Most of the gulls are in their winter plumage with white heads belying their name. But some already have their distinctive black heads. The cavorting flight does not have an obvious purpose; it does not seem to be associated with a search for food. It all seems choreographed, behaviour of the flock rather than of individuals. It seems an extravagant use of energy when food is presumably still scarce. With spring around the corner one can only assume it is the start of the mating rituals. Whatever its purpose it is a joy to watch.

But the gulls are not all that is to be seen. A fat wood pigeon sits in the cherry tree and there are more in the top of the nearby beech. With a flick-flick, flick-flick of its wings a pigeon speeds through the scene and is quickly gone; the intermittent wing beat suggests it is a wild bird but it was too energetic and lean to be one of the ubiquitous wood pigeon.

Flocks and solitary birds fly past high, with binoculars and more knowledge, I might have been able to tell what they were. But I recognise a pair of elegant, tuxedo-clad magpies that fly up into the beech tree and rest briefly before flying on – one for sorrow, two for joy as the rhyme goes. It is indeed enjoyable watching other members of the crow family fly in and out. These few minutes have highlighted how much activity there is even on a quiet early morning in mid-winter; one just needs to be awake and attentive.

Birds are not the only things in the air; a twin engine aeroplane flies over. Its height suggests the clouds, though grey and dense, are high. It is at a good altitude so is probably on a passage and is avoiding the airspace of East Midlands Airport less than ten miles away.

A robin with its red breast looks for insects in the broken bark at the base of the cherry tree. A male blackbird with its yellow beak is looking for its breakfast as it hops across the grass. A squirrel bounds along the nearby fence.

But as I finish my cup of tea I realise it is time to get up and get my own breakfast. I have been enjoying the early morning view from my bedroom window. It has been an almost meditative ten or fifteen minutes that has put me in a positive mood despite the cold grey weather. Those few moments show how the practice of mindfulness, a key to enjoying slow travel, can be or should be part of everyday life. Take the opportunity to just Be whenever and wherever it presents itself; enjoy the moment.

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Jill Browne (not verified) on 26 March, 2015 - 17:50

Spring is such a tease this year! Love to hear about those birds, Martin. 20/3/14

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