In plain sight

GoldfinshDo you see them? The Cardinal and the Goldfinch. They are right there in plain sight. I have been gardening for years but the last three I have really worked to develop the gardens with native plants and perennials. So now the garden is filling in. It is no longer the three small plants. It is a riot of color – dense with purples and yellow.


As the summer has progressed I Cardinalhave begun to notice more birds. We have had bees and butterflies each year but the birds have not been around or so I thought. This year their songs are everywhere. I see them each morning and hear their messages fade away each night as the darkness approaches. Off to bed they go.

I was so pleased. The Cardinal family is nesting in our bushes off the screen porch. The Goldfinches flitter between my neighbors raised beds and my flower garden. In my excitement I trotted over to my neighbor to let him know. “Did you see the goldfinches? Did you know the Cardinals have nested in the bushes?”  He just turned to me gently (because he is a gentle soul) and said “yes, they have been here for years. Isn’t it nice to see them now?”

Wow – they have been here all along!  I just couldn’t see what was right in front of me. I was so busy with other things that I was only seeing what I knew. I wasn’t opening my eyes to what was really there. I was seeing what I wanted to see – not the whole picture.

Today while sipping tea, watching the “new” found birds and scanning the news it occurred to me that this is a lot like our society. We see what we expect to see not what is really there. We look for what we think we know instead of looking with open eyes for the whole picture.

We easily jump to conclusions about the people around us, we assume this person can’t help or be a friend because of a look, a style and way of walking or the color of their skin. We shy away from things we don’t know about or don’t understand and in so doing we also find ourselves not seeing what is really there.

What I do know is that this can be changed! We can learn to see the whole picture. My focus on the garden was plants. Each morning I was looking at plants. I was caught in the details of every plant.

Now after a time I have stepped back and started looking at the big picture and in that frame there was so much more to see.

We have lived to long in our society looking at the little details of our own lives. It is time for us to step back. It is time to see the whole picture with fresh eyes. It is way past time to see all the people who live around us – clearly, with respect and a willingness to learn.  We can not afford to not see each other with clear, fresh eyes!

Who is in plain sight that you are not seeing?




About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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7 Responses to In plain sight

  1. Adrienne says:

    I love how you start with something ordinary and then zoom out to make us think about bigger things.

  2. arjeha says:

    There is so much to be seen in the garden as well as in people if we take the time to look closely enough. We placed a bird feeder outside our dining room window and we love watching the birds it attracts…as well as the chipmunks and squirrels.

  3. Linda Baie says:

    I love hearing your connections from the seeing one thing to standing back to notice more. You know I’ve been weeding, and find that looking at the “whole picture” helps me find them. And of course, noticing our life’s experiences out in the world is a good thing to do, too.

  4. Your yard looks beautiful! I really enjoyed your post – your excitement over your garden and the birds and then how you took it to another level.

  5. Jaana says:

    Words of wisdom! So needed at this time. I have been noticing that many of my friends who garden, also have the wisdom of words!

  6. jhaworthoy says:

    It is amazing what a garden can teach us when we step back and look at the whole picture. It sounds like your neighbor is quite a wise gentle soul.

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