Jay Walker

We have a number of blue scrub jays that visit our back yard. We offer them shelled peanuts from our feeding area and they happily feed on the legumes, stuffing up to five in their sublingual pouches to be buried for later retrieval. Sometimes they pause to swallow a nut or peck at a larger piece to break it up for a snack.

Jays have lots of personality. Members of the corvid family, they share behavioral characteristics with their crow and raven cousins. When on the ground, they hop with both feet together, bouncing like little kangaroos. They have a range of calls but the most common is a nasal ascending cheerp, cheerp, cheerp! I have managed to mirror the sound with my tongue placed against the roof of my mouth and like to think we communicate. But I suspect they are just humoring me to get more peanuts.

We recently xeriscaped the area around our bird feeding station, planting native high desert species with lots of space in between. I now observe the jays in a more natural habitat. They grab some peanuts and bury a few near our randomly placed basalt boulders or at the base of plants. Sometimes a jay will poke a peanut into the ground and then place a stick or stone on top. They can place and remember thousands of such sites in a season.

My mind becomes totally absorbed into observing the jay’s behavior. I feel something in my bones, a memory, a primal knowing about energetic patterns. The jays do not remember in the way humans do. They encode a moment in space by associating random elements together. It is like creating a node of energy, later recognized by simply flying over an area and sensing a subtle shift in the landscape. This sensitivity is so natural, a quality lost in the human mind full of facts, figures, and emotional reactions. I imagine I would starve if I had to locate where I stored thousands of peanuts. But maybe it is possible to reclaim this sensitive way of remembering.

When the mind begins to settle into its original unconditioned nature, we can regain a sensitivity to subtle energies. We can feel the wind shift and sense a storm long before it happens. We are able to move with what is through deep listening, not with the ears, but with pure unstained awareness. Ultimately, we notice a rhythm of wisdom and compassion permeating the universe, expressing exactly what is needed at any given moment.

This morning I walk the khora path in our native garden and smile knowing I do not see everything. But I sense little nodes of energy all around—maybe a stored peanut, a worm snaking inches beneath my feet, a seed beginning to sprout but not yet breaking the surface. The wind swirls in a bindu (essence energy) sphere, uniting sun rays and earth shadows, offering aromas, and sending sensations through the hairs on my skin. Nothing in this now is more important