Blue Jay Alley to The Ancient One

Location: Bafflin Sanctuary, Pomfret, CT

Links: CT Audubon Society; All Trails; Map PDF

Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Time: 8:00 am – 11:00 am

Hike Duration: 3-3.5 miles; 3 hours

Weather: Partly sunny. Temps 55-65 degrees F

Alfalfa Hill

Dennis had to work this afternoon, so we opted for a hike closer to home. We parked at the Bafflin Sanctuary Conservation Center and decided to hike the middle section of the sanctuary, on the Ravine, Day Brook, and Williams Way Trails. I wrote about hiking Ledge Trail, one of the outer sections of the sanctuary, back in July.

These trails are fairly easy and take you through a variety of landscapes. We passed through meadows and woods, crossed streams, walked the borders of cornfields, and took in a few scenic vistas as well. The morning started off a little gray, but the sun made its appearance as the day went on.

As we began hiking the western section of Day Brook Trail, we encountered a cornfield. The trail bordered alongside the field creating an alley between the corn on one side and bushes, trees and wildflowers on the other side. This seemed to be the perfect combination of ingredients to create a wildlife haven for birds, squirrels, rabbits, and deer.


As we hiked along, blue jays flittered ahead of us, back and forth between the bushes and trees and the corn. At one point, a jay perched on the tree branch above our heads. We stood in stillness observing it as it sat there observing us. It curiously tilted its head to one side and then the other, as if trying to figure out what we were all about.

This made me recall a conversation I listened to recently with Adyashanti on Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations. He quotes Krishnamurti,

“when you teach a child that a bird is named ‘bird’, the child will never see the bird again.”

He goes on to explain that when we give something a name, we look at that thing and think we know all about it. We have a tendency to focus on our thoughts and abstract ideas about that thing, and lose the intimacy of actually experiencing its existence.

Obviously it’s beneficial to have names for things, as well as knowledge about them, in order to communicate and live in the world. But there is something magical about setting aside what we think we know, refraining from intellectually labelling and identifying, and allowing ourselves to open up to the experience of an encounter. An experience rooted in mystery and magnificence, curiosity and wonder. An experience rooted in our senses, in what we’re feeling, hearing, seeing, smelling, and tasting.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. ~Marcel Proust

This is the cultivation of Beginner’s Mind. Patrick Buggy’s article How to Cultivate Beginner’s Mind for a Fresh Perspective, explains this concept from Zen Buddhism so well. He shares that when we are in a state of beginner’s mind, we are free of preconceptions and expectations, filled with curiosity, and open to possibilities. It gives us a fresh perspective to learn about and connect with life in a deeper way.

We took our time along that corn field, amazed and sometimes startled, by the wildlife that moved around us. Once we left Blue Jay Alley, we made our way to the corner of Williams Way field where The Ancient One resides. Talk about mystery and magnificence!

This old, gnarly tree has an opening like a cave at its base. It’s actually large enough that if you crouch down, you can fit inside it.

After spending some time with The Ancient One, we continued on William’s Way, looping around to the corn field again, and then eventually back to the nature center. The corn field didn’t hold quite the same magic as it had earlier in the morning. I think this was due to a combination of critters not being as active this late in the morning and possibly our loss of beginner’s mind as we got caught in our own preconceptions and expectations of Blue Jay Alley!


The Ancient One and me – January 2013

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