top of page



MAY 12, 2017




Yogi Berra once said, “You can see a lot by watching.”   


It’s true, but it hasn’t been my style for most of my life.

I’ve been a doer whose first wife said,

“You’re addicted to your own adrenaline,”

and whose second wife said,

“You’re all about achievements.” 

Guilty on both counts.


Unstructured time made me uneasy.   

Now, as the dark clouds gather over the terminal phase of my earthly existence, I have slowed down by necessity. I go fighting and kicking all the way, but I’m learning that there is something wonderful about sitting quietly to watch.   


Yesterday, when I finished cutting the grass and trimming the edges,

I was pooped. I dragged a chair – a very light plastic chair – to the middle of the newly cut lawn and sat

to glory in my accomplishment.

I didn’t feel like moving a single muscle.

Because I couldn’t move, I was able to “see a lot by watching”.   

I watched the hummingbirds.

Their aerial acrobatics as they fight for position at my feeder have always entertained me, but I was never able to tell who won.


Hummingbirds all look alike at high speed.

I just hadn’t watched closely enough.

I discovered that I could distinguish at least one of them by his pattern of behavior. He set himself up as King of the Feeder.

He sat in a nearby rose bush to watch.

He saw a lot by watching too.

He watched the feeder closely.

Whenever a new hummingbird came, he would dart out,

chase the interloper away and return to his perch.

He must have done that 20 times as I sat there.   

This morning, after breakfast, I took my second cup of coffee to my screen porch to watch some more.

King Hummingbird wasn’t there.


Two or three would swoop in at a time, fight awhile,

maybe drink and maybe not. Then they would zoom off.

It wasn’t as interesting, but I learned a little about other birds. Sparrows, for example, flew in, drank from my fountain and flew away like New York commuters in a constant hurry.   


Black birds are different. They have a peculiar way of moving their heads back and forth as they strut across the grass picking up tidbits of food. Sometimes they would drink but never in a hurry. One of them did something surprising. When he hopped up on the fountain, he didn’t drink. He had a bit of food that he dipped in the water before flying over to the fence to eat it.   


White winged doves, by contrast, are shy.

Though they are ground eaters, they are leery and approach the fountain after sitting on the neighbor’s roof and making several false starts before they are satisfied that it is safe to drink. Sitting motionless this morning, I saw three at once drinking. It was a different sort of achievement for me, but I liked it.   


I’ve been missing a lot in my life by not watching quietly.

I hope to catch up on some as I slow down.   

bottom of page