Shhh … get quiet and hear Mother Nature’s sounds

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Black Crown Night Heron near the Stones River. Photo by Dan Whittle

The late iconic poet/author/speaker Maya Angelou once said this during a radio broadcast: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song.”

And when Maya spoke, legions of Americans listened.

Each spring morning, Patricia and I listen to our personal symphony by backyard songbirds as they chorus in a new day.

Even our 65-pound lap puppy named Honey Bear seems to wag her tail in synch with the gold and red finches as they warble excitedly about their new day.

Semi-retirement from fulltime daily newspapering deadlines back in 2006 has allowed me to experience a new way of “looking and listening” for the sounds and beauty of Mother Nature.

Nature’s beauty is all around us, and one doesn’t have to go far or spend a lot of money to experience it.

I hear the echoes of nature each time I go to the Readyville Mill and dam on Stones River. I touch it each time I’m at the Murfree Spring wetland and walkway, an unusual Mecca for nature photography in downtown Murfreesboro and one of our beautiful state’s fastest growth cities.

Longtime friend and fellow author, Shirley Ann Farris Jones, and husband, Jerry, have cultivated their new way of hearing the rhythms of nature that flow all around us.

For years, Jerry and Shirley have been going to their restful cabin retreat in the beauty of the Cumberland Mountains.

“We’ve owned this place almost 12 years now, and this is a first,” Shirley shared recently from atop Tennessee’s beautiful Hull Mountain. “The salt block and corn are really hits with the deer. Their favorite spot is at the tree by the salt … a bite of corn and a lick of salt.”

Are you being still enough to appreciate this up-close glimpse of Mother Nature’s beauty up on Hull Mountain?

“But wait just a minute deer, here come the turkeys,” the author penned to her hometown friends back in Murfreesboro.

“I had put out several piles of shelled corn for the wild turkeys, but the deer ate some of their supply. So the turkeys decided it was time about fair play.

“First, big ol’ Tom Turkey came to the corn (on the cob) nailed on the side of our tree,” Shirley added.

“Then, one really big Tom jumped up and got a bite of corn, one bite per jump. Then another Tom went to another tree, and jumped up and got a bite of corn at a time, which was hilarious.”

However, this scene in Mother Nature wasn’t complete.

“The Toms finally left … and here came the hens,” Shirley etched her woodland scene with words. “One rather slick chick in particular had been in the bushes watching, waiting and studying the male turkeys’ jumping and dining habits.

“Here she came to the same corn cob by the salt block. She looked the situation over and then, very carefully, she stepped up on the salt block and helped herself. (No jumping required). Just goes to show you who has the brains in this turkey family,” the well-known historical writer from Rutherford County shared.

After observing turkeys, their beauty and their intelligence, one of our nation’s founders, Ben Franklin, wanted turkeys to be our national bird.

Personally, I think the crow should be the national bird, for certainly, it’s a very adaptive native bird. Instead of nearly becoming extinct with the encroachment of man, crows have thrived by moving in town with us.

Longtime church-going friends Robert and Carole Gentry were recently captured hiking with two lovely grandchildren in the off-brand digital camera used by Ranger of Danger Thurman Mullins at Long Hunter State Park, a favorite photography scene for my attempts at nature photography.

Getting out in nature can be soothing, and kind of serves as my “church” away from church.

Shhh! Quiet please. Can you hear the rhythms of Mother Nature?


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