Sense of Wonder

Steven and I are full of bird wonder.



Our backyard, patio, and window chatter goes something like this:

  • “Look, look! A titmouse!”
  • “What kind of bird is that?”
  • “The hummers are back!”
  • “There’s a woodpecker at the feeder!”
  • “Get the camera! I see a blue bird!”
  • “Those birds that make babbling brook sounds are cowbirds. I looked it up.”
  • “He’s not very gold for a goldfinch!”

One day, however, Steven scrunched his face and asked: “Are we getting old? Why are we so fascinated by birds all of a sudden?”


Red finch



Old? Shudder the thought! I blew off his comment with: “It wasn’t all of a sudden! I’ve always loved birds.” I confess, though: I retreated to quietly chew on the idea.

Why was I chasing the hawk through the arboretum with a camera? Why did I care what kind of LBB (little brown bird) that one was? Why would I stand holding sugar water until it hurt, waiting for a hummingbird to feed from my hand? Why does the titmouse delight me so?

Steven had a point. Bird watching carries the stigma of senioritis. I don’t mean the kind that afflicts 12th graders or college seniors. I mean the stigma of doing senior things. Using canes. Eating crackers for dinner. Filling conversations with the latest on aches and pains. Watching birds through binoculars.

I argued to myself: I don’t feel senior and I’m only in my fifties, so it’s silly to think I chase the hawk because of my age.

Soon after Steven’s ridiculous query, our senior minister included Rachel Carson in his Earth Day homily. My ears perked when he quoted from her 1962 book Silent Spring.

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that cleareyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe inspiring is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.


Cardinal and blue bird


Carolina chickadee

I was wiggling in my church seat! See, Steven! We’re not old. We’re arguably acting younger, not older!

This is my theory about my (not-really-new) sense of wonder for birds. My mind scraped across the sandpaper of time, responsibilities, and worries. I’ve been wearing adult shades that darken my world and dull my wonder for it. In my forties, I began reaching for inner peace and well-being. Now, in my fifties, I’ve been able to reclaim that sense of wonder. Not because I’m old, but rather because I removed those ridiculously dark adult glasses. I’ve remembered how to see (really see) the wonders of the world. I think Steven has too.

© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2016

About Pennie Nichols

This little corner is dedicated to some of the things that interest me and to those of you who share those interests about relationships, travel, cooking, gardening, canning, jewelry, and writing. I’ll throw in some recipes and stories for your reading pleasure.

16 Replies to “Sense of Wonder”

    • Pennie Nichols Post author

      If not birds, then some other creature or perhaps plants, landscapes, sky colors. I mainly see it as appreciation and awe for the beautiful things we often take for granted. Thanks for reading.

  1. Alana

    What I would like to know is why, in the past three or so years, I’ve become absolutely fascinated with sunsets. And, during the winter months when I get to see them on the way to work, sunrises. It must be part of the maturing process. Not quite at birding yet, but I can see it coming.

  2. green diva meg

    i so relate to this! my husband and i have designed our birdie condo village so we can sit and sip coffee/tea and marvel at these lil creatures every morning. great post. thank you!

  3. penpen

    One of my sadnesses about moving from our home in the suburbs to a city apartment was not having a bird feeder on my lawn. The cardinals, the robins–I hope the new owner is feeding them. I thought I would be denied bird life but we have a balcony and I’ve already seen three birds flying high (we’re on the 14th floor). They’ve come to peck around and rest on our railing–always a delight to see them. I’m trying to figure out a way to put a feeder up here.

  4. Haralee

    This is lovely and a great reminder to take pleasure in little things. I appreciate birds, their beauty and the whole flying thing!

  5. Rena McDaniel

    I had to laugh because my husband had almost the exact same conversation last night as we sat on the porch. We were watching for our little hummer and talking about the birdhouses all being full this year. I even took a picture of a woodpecker. My husband looked at me and said, “you know what this means don’t you? We’ve officially become seniors!” No way!


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