Looking without seeing

As I spend so much time walking around with Ollie, it often occurs to me how much we look at things, without actually seeing anything. Since moving to Norfolk seven years ago, I have been able to slow down, and think about what I look at as I wander around every day.

Living a busy life in London, I used to walk around the centre of the city on a daily basis. One day I stopped to tie a shoelace, and noticed a brown plaque above a house. It told me that this had been the residence of the famous writer, Dr Samuel Johnson. I had walked trough that square many times, but I had just been looking, not seeing.

Once in Norfolk, I resolved to slow down, and start to actually see things.

Walking Ollie in much the same places every day, I am often asked if I find that too dull or boring. But familiarity with those areas has shown me that there is always something to see, if you stop and think. Sitting on a fallen tree, I heard a rustling under some leaves. As I looked in the direction of the noise, I was delighted to see some tiny baby frogs appear, heading for the nearby river. There were probably a dozen or more of the small amphibians, each not much larger than my thumbnail. Had I just glanced around, I would never have noticed them.

A flapping in some tree branches turned out to be a snow-white Egret, dropping from its perch into the river, to catch a small fish. Had I been walking past without thinking, that would just have been an unexplained sound. Ripples on the water attracted my attention, and I turned slowly to see a small water-vole, now an endangered species in Britain. It made its way across to some reeds, and ducked under them for safety.

Even the bark of a tree can reveal little wonders. Unknown insects scrabbling around on what to them is the known universe. Large parasitic fungi beginning to invade the hard wood, the start of something that will eventually kill the ancient host. Further up in the branches, bird’s nests of varying sizes tell me that the tree is also a home of multiple-occupancy for everything from long-tailed blue tits, to squawking crows. Sit still long enough, and all of nature will be revealed to you.

But you have to see it, not just look at it.

49 thoughts on “Looking without seeing

  1. So true Pete! There’s so much to see if we pause and look. I have a favorite walk I do here and every time there’s something to enjoy. The sun hitting the water just so. Stopping to see if the turtles are out. Maybe catching an eagle soaring overhead. Glimpses of the mountains. Buds and new colors on the trees. It’s all good.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Really enjoyed this Pete. Funny how a certain kind of dog will either increase patience and peace of mind necessary to see what has been front of you for a very long time. Also enjoyed you noticing the plaque about the great man, Dr. Johnson. Coming from Texas, which is far less exotic than London, the kind of plaque I might have seen, had I been attentive enough, would more likely been something like this. “On this spot in April 1836, General Sam Houston, while intoxicated, spat a plug of chew onto the back of a dung beetle while traveling to the Battle of San Jacinto.” And had I been attentive enough to see such a plaque, I might have said to myself, “What was a dung beetle doing traveling to the Battle of San Jacinto? How did he know where it was to be? Is it possible a dung beetle could have had prophetic foreknowledge of the event and set out months ahead of time to be on the exact spot where Sam Houston was preordained to spit?” πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Those changes can be subtle or all at once, as you say, Maggie. I was just out with Ollie, watching two wood pigeons fighting over the best perch on the same branch. It reminded me of human children, arguing about nothing. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Since I am bodily disabled and can move only very slow and with many breaks my perception of what is going on around me has increased enormously, especially in nature. πŸ˜‰ Life is overbrimming with small wonders and full of beauty!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Too many people looking at their phones or tablets now. Not simply sitting and looking at the beauty around them, or even just observing other people! I often wonder what is so fascinating on their phones.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m pretty bad at carrying my phone. Only really when OH and I are going to different places and we need to text to meet somewhere. And it hardly ever in the same room as I am! In fact you have just reminded me that it is still in my bag that I took into Penzance yesterday!! I don’t do FB.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s why I enjoy some of my regular walks, Pete, as there’s always something different to see even on well-trodden paths.And hear. The other day I was struck by how much birdsong there was – lovely to hear after the winter quiet.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The problem with people in general is that these days everyone seems to be in a rush. A good example is for instance the elevator in my apartment building. It has a switch in order to make the doors close faster. I never push it as it saves like what 2 seconds. But there always so many people that brush past me and push the button anyway. And even look annoyed when I don’t. Which is what I mean…people just don’t take the time for things anymore. You are so right though….there are so many things you can see when you take the time to look for them 😊 Great post Pete! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

All comments welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.