Though not yet by the calendar, winter has arrived here on the North Shore of Massachusetts. From my office desk, I look out over frozen flower gardens into the wetland forest that is at the back of our property. It’s a winter wonderland of snow-covered evergreen boughs and holly bushes. On mornings after fresh overnight snow, each branch and twig of the naked deciduous trees is outlined in white. The whole forest seems to come alive in a graceful winter dance.

Snow-Deer

With the return of cold weather, some of the wildlife that I’ve been missing all summer have returned. Just in the last couple of days, a pair of coyotes have passed through the property several times, as well as a magnificent young buck with his three-point rack of antlers. Even as I write now, a young doe emerges from the forest to find the few remaining apples in the snow under the apple trees. She moves with such silent grace, all the while aware of every movement and sound around her.

Alan-Coyote

The neighborhood red-tailed hawk has been hunting in the frozen forest all afternoon. The hawk has a way of showing up at just the right moments during coaching sessions or teleclasses as if to bring special attention to whatever we are talking about or to affirm an insight or discovery.

A squirrel has made her den in the hollow knot of the shagbark hickory tree just outside my window. Several times a day, she pokes her head out through the small hole. We have a brief, silent exchange, I at my desk and she at her door, and then we both go on about our business.

Alan-Squirrel

I anticipate a visit from the fisher (a type of weasel) soon, as he seems to like to hunt in the winter wetlands as well. Every now and then he dares to come close to the house, yet he never makes eye contact. He is completely focused on his task and lets nothing distract him.

Very occasionally, even a barred owl appears on a stark tree branch. One morning last winter, the owl sat on a large branch just outside our sunroom windows for more than a half hour, peering in at us in that special owl-like way as we sipped our morning coffee and tea. We didn’t say a word. We just sat in its presence. It was magical.

No matter how often these wondrous creatures appear, I am still awed by their presence. I pause from whatever I’m doing to just be with them. In those moments, time seems to stop. There is a stillness that is like medicine for me. The animals are so present in the moment. For them, this moment is all there is. There is no planning ahead. There is no fretting about the past. There is no drama, nothing to ponder or figure out.  They are simply “being” right here, right now, doing whatever is called for in the moment. When things around them are quiet, they rest in that stillness. When something startles them, they instantly respond and are gone in a flash. Their instincts and awareness are astoundingly keen. They don’t question what they sense. They trust their instincts and follow their inner knowing.

It’s their ability to be right here, right now, that allows them such a keen awareness of their surroundings. On this winter day, the deer and the coyotes remind me to rest in the stillness when all is quiet. They remind me to pay attention and to “sense” my surroundings in every moment. And they remind me that if I am centered and present in the moment, I, too, can access a greater wisdom from within. From that deep stillness, I can trust my instincts for how to show up and how to respond, no matter what is happening around me.

 

P.S. For next steps in becoming more aware of the many messages available to you in your surroundings, the exercises on pages 72 and 73 of my latest book, Create A World That Works, can be a great place to start. The book is also available in digital format.

 

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