The happiness that comes to us

Disgruntled beginning birders were the theme at Sandy Hook Bird Observatory today; my first volunteer day since, oh… June, I guess.

Sitting behind the desk in that drafty building on the bay, on any given Sunday, promises a variety of experiences. Many days we see no one, but oftentimes we have a mix of visitors, full of questions, but hesitant to spend any money to validate our presence there.

Today, Donna and I managed to sell exactly one “Butterflies of Sandy Hook” checklist.

(Exactly sixty-four cents with tax.)

A banner sales day!

; )

Donna, who’s a librarian by day, is used to this sort of trading of information for the sake of visitorship. She recognizes our purpose there more readily than me, probably.

Me… I feel like I haven’t earned my keep as a volunteer if I haven’t sold at least one copy of the Sibley’s guide…

The folks who came in today or called to complain… about the birds not being Here now… or the birds not being There yesterday, were expressing a frustration that I imagine many of us feel…

We want what we want from the natural world, when we want it.

If we show up… we expect Nature will be there waiting for us, with bells on.


I’ve spent the last couple weekends at Cape May or at the hawkwatch in Montclair… looking for hawks, waiting for them to show…

They never did, really, not in any spectacular way that I’ve come to expect. Instead there was a huge passing of Monarch butterflies at Cape May and Buckeyes in the hundreds of thousands…

And a Ruby-throated Hummingbird that amused me for hours while waiting for Broadwings to pass, near invisible, overhead…

Opportunities fly by while we sit regretting the chances we have lost, and the happiness that comes to us we heed not, because of the happiness that is gone.

~Jerome K. Jerome, The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, 1889

7 thoughts on “The happiness that comes to us”

  1. Great post, Laura. And, so very true.

    I am still waiting to see a buckeye, and envy you for seeing the passing of both them and then monarchs.

    We have lots of warblers passing now, but the trees still have leaves, so they are hard to photograph. I am not so good with birds, anyway.

  2. Nice post. One of the reasons I like Zen is the concept of just being in the moment. Notice what is there, not what you want or expect to be there.

    And great quote by Jerome.

  3. Expectations are a tricky lot!

    I know the sales thing! Always feel like I better give serious thought to buying something at the interpretive center!!

  4. Laura,
    My first visit here! Hope you have seen the floating overhead Monarchs? Heard Cape May has had a killer year for Monarchs. I estimated seeing 750 buckeyes on Saturday on the goldenrods in one of our gamelands.

  5. Oh, no–bad beginner birders! Where’s the wonder, man? Gees, I enjoy watching House Sparrows, but I guess my expectations are always to see as much as I can, no matter what it might be.

  6. Hey Laura. See – I really do read your blog! Very, very nice photos of the butterflies and hummer. I too was in Cape May (for a WSB meeting) during the Monarch migration. Incredible being in a butterfly blizzard.

    Greg Cantrell

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