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  • Writer's pictureAlex Webb

A Motivational Call

January 1st is a time for new beginnings. For resolutions. However, Forbe's claims that 80% of Americans will not keep their New Year's resolutions for the entire year. Last Winter, I took a job as a childcare worker during the pandemic. I stayed inside four cement walls all day with no windows. I felt myself becoming increasingly depressed. I went from being outside all day every day in teaching outdoor education classes to being inside the entire day and going for brief walks after work. I would spend every lunch break sitting on the steps in the parking lot, breathing in the fresh air. I would listen to the birds and feel the breeze on my face. I started to realize that in addition to transitioning to minimal time outside, I also wasn’t learning anything new about the outdoors or environmental education. I was learning new things from my job, but it wasn’t my field.

That day I looked up to see a cardinal fly to a nearby tree. It started singing. I knew what cardinals looked like but I had never taken the time to listen to what they sounded like. From that day on I promised myself that I would memorize that sound. Cardinal sounds are easy to identify if you know them. I was surprised at myself because almost every time I went outside after, I would hear one. Cardinals stay Western Mass year round and I heard more of them than I ever did before knowing what to listen for.

This easy but newly identified sound to me was an inspiration. Cardinals already are inspiring to me because they are so vibrant against a white background. They give long dark days hope. Learning one more bird call brought me one step closer to becoming a better naturalist. People say that you are an experience birder when you can identify different bird calls from their sound, not just sight. Cardinals now are a symbol to me for personal professional development. Learning something new could be your New Year's resolution.

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