Novelty and the Brain

The lens of my camera moved from branch to branch, following a black-capped chickadee that was desperate to avoid having its photo taken.

A small bird with a black head and throat, white belly and grey wings rests on a small brach with purplish-pink flowers on it.
Black-capped Chickadee perching on a Redbud Tree, (Because I didn’t get the photo. Grin.)

“What you got there?”

I looked over my shoulder to see a man and woman approaching me.

“A couple of black-capped chickadees,” I said as I turned back to the tree and pointed.

We all peered at the tree together.

The woman broke the silence. “I was just thinking that I hadn’t seen any birds yet.”

I thought about the tufted titmice I had seen earlier—the sound of their song as they took turns calling out to each other. Two turkey vultures were circling above the nearby lake just minutes ago. A pileated woodpecker cackled in the distance.

I started to tell her about them but stopped myself. “I bet you’ll see more in this area of the gardens.” We were in a wooded area of Garvan Woodland Gardens at this point.

It’s actually not surprising that she hadn’t noticed the birds. She was there to see the tulips. We all were. The striking colors and magnitude of the 150,000 tulips was breathtaking. And it was novel.

The Power of Novelty

Deep purple flowers shaped like cups with straight green stems
Purple tulips at Garvan Woodland Gardens, Melanie Thornton

I had been reading about the power of novelty in The Nature Fix (See the Resources Page). Novelty is good for our brains. Research shows that novel experiences result in the release of dopamine.… Read the full post “Novelty and the Brain”

Soaking It In

To walk among flowers and breathe in their beauty,
To sit by a stream and soak in its calm,
To be covered at night by a blanket of stars,
To let the prothonotary warbler teach me its song.

The universe offers us opportunities to be amazed, intrigued, and appreciative. It is easy, though, in the business of life to become distracted by other things and not take notice of the wonder around us. To remain in a posture of wondering, to be an active wonderer,  is part of my commitment with this blog.

There is so much to learn. There are endless tangible wonders to discover—enough to give one meaning for an entire lifetime.

What will you do this week to soak it in?

Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.
William Wordsworth

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
Rachel Carson

Read the full post “Soaking It In”