Catbird Medicine

This morning, my path to my sitting spot took me out around the South side of the cabin. I was approaching the grape arbor when a bird flew out. I was struck by it because it flew as gentile as rain. It didn't chirp as it flew, nor did its feathers unsettle the air enough to make a sound. It was not a bird I was familiar with.

It flew out ahead of me then banked East. It had the same coloration as Catbird, but its tail feathers were much shorter. It bonked into the deck railing, righted itself then flew down into some tall grass. I went ahead and sat down in my spot. That's when Catbird showed up. She sat on the deck rail looking, in turns at me, then toward the tall grass. Catbird squawking, but quietly. Catbird squawks at me a lot, but not quietly. Catbird is a generous squawker. This squawk was very different. Somewhere in the midst of all this I figured it out. I had spooked Baby Catbird.

A second adult showed up. This one swooped under a Ceder tree and hopped around, looking for something. I noticed one of the pair appeared on the grape arbor, squawked a bit, then disappeared. I saw the two adults fly up to the Maple tree and chase each other around, than soar North. One of them appeared again on the deck rail, looking at me, then flew off.

I could discern no pattern in the adult's actions, just a simple centeredness around the apparent location of Baby Catbird. They appeared to be doing what they would do anyway; eating and hunting, soaring and perching, chasing and following, flying away and returning, squawking and feather flipping.

It got me thinking about how I teach my children. I imagined that Baby Catbird was watching everything the adults did, taking it all in. Learning, not from instructions, but from actions. Learning how to be. Seeing what adults did and learning what was possible. There were no requirements, only possibilities.

And the tests were built in. When Baby Catbird evaded me, it was an opportunity to try out some skills, but the stakes were real. Baby could not know whether I was walking, or hunting. And Baby's parents could not protect her. Baby was taking what had been taught and putting it into action.

Today I will be thinking about how I teach my children through my actions. Anyone who knows me knows I love to talk. I think of this as Snake Medicine. Snake Medicine is instruction. Stories are Snake Medicine. This writing is Snake Medicine. Catbird is reminding me that my actions are powerful teachers. Catbird can't tell stories or give instructions with human words. Catbirds teaches by living in the presence of Baby Catbird. Today, I will be practicing Catbird Medicine.