Sumner has lived at East Wind Community for just over three years now. He does a number of things around here, including birding religiously on the weekends and less religiously writing this blog.
If I allow myself, I can spend hours and hours observing the many and varied forms of life that coexist with me. The woodpeckers, bees, birds of prey, deer, the plants, and the soil it all depends on. Most especially, hearing and seeing birds along the paths I walk everyday has roused an appreciation inside of me for all who share this land. Observing, as well as digitally capturing, the flora and fauna of this land I’m three years acquainted with has become an obsession.
A desire to learn about the living world is what led me to initially visit East Wind. Gardening was my primary passion. In the city, I was limited in many ways due to space constraints. Coming to East Wind, with decades long established gardens and orchards, accelerated my learning exponentially. Working with a large variety of annuals and perennials alongside those with years and years of experience with the land taught me more than any book or Internet forum could about gardening and how to take care of this land.
Working the gardens quickly became an introduction to our many flying friends living at East Wind. I love the dark eyed juncos who scratch about in the winter time and the great blue herons that occasionally cruise over the South Garden. Birding has been a passion for well over a year now and the plethora of bees have more recently sparked an interest in me. I take pictures and film of both, as photography is also a hobby of mine, and use these digital images to help me identify them as well as share with you, dear reader (soon to be YouTube viewer!). In the process of birding with a camera I have the pleasure of slowly moving about observing what is going on around me. Becoming familiar with the habits of the blue jays and the owls, watching how things change from cold season to warm and back again. Just about anywhere I am on this land, for most of the year, I will hear the songs of birds and it gives me great comfort.
You may find it difficult to understand how someone who grew up staring at screens for prolonged periods of time (and still does, but not nearly as often) could experience such a change in perspective in their mid-twenties. All I can say is that leaving the city to live in a rural, primarily forested, area makes it hard not to pay attention to the web of life around you. More than ever I am aware of the importance of conserving habitat for those we live with. And I am in a place where I can effectively act upon these impulses to protect the precious biodiversity that remains. Living in Missouri, a state that supports conservation efforts, helps immensely. In ignorance, humans can become incredibly destructive. With some intention, every act is a stepping stone to healing. I firmly believe that when we provide for others, we will be provided for.
I am working towards making a field guide for East Wind/Ozark County. I know you may be thinking: “How can you not have a great blue heron or an eastern bluebird for this blog?!” The pictures here are just a small collection and I have a couple thousand images that I need to take the time to process. At this rate, I think I’ve got about another century to go before a first draft. Stay tuned!
Post written and pictures taken by Sumner