A Story Unfolds

By Barbara Janelle M.A.

First Published Species Link, Issue 16, Summer, 1994

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I spent some time in Golden Gate Park. A flock of California quail greeted my arrival in the botanical gardens. I was delighted to see them and sat quietly while they darted around me, searching for food in the mulched flower beds.

While I watched, I tried to recall what I knew about these birds and discovered that I was listening to a part of myself judging the birds for being fearful and silly: a voice composite of things I had heard, read, and accepted without thinking. While appalled that this voice still leaps to the surface so easily, I am also pleased that I recognized it quickly and allowed a space for the quail to tell me their story.

Busy, searching for food

A Community Spirit

Like filaments of Light

Holds us together.

Courageous, we find our way

In this glorious world.

Strong in heart, we are

So small to you

In our world we are royalty–

Our crests proclaim it so!

Listen to our message:

Be strong in heart,

As wise as a knowing

California quail,

Flowing with the bounty

Of the Good Earth.

I understood that their ebb and flow did not stem from fear, but instead was a dance in rhythm with the world as they perceive it. Light and sound, wind and energy invite this dance. They truly are connected by a web of light strands so that they dance together. They are very courageous because they follow their inner knowing. When I walked on, it was with greater respect and honor for the California quail.

In the Japanese Tea Garden, the magnificent big fish spoke of their world:

We are in each other’s presence

Quiet sharing of space

Lightly touching others

We sing the joy of our world.

We fill the world with our awareness

And know of every ripple in return

Felt, heard, “tasted,” in a way

You do not experience.

Sing, yes we do this.

Our song a loud hum in

Our sensing, tells us of the

Presence of others.

Movement from your world of

Air, moves energetically

And lightly though our world.

See this garden without fences

The kingdom of plants

Sings too of community, relationship

Intricate Possibility.

When the fish tried to show me how they taste their world, I could only get a sense of taste-smell-vibration. They recognized that we do not have a common experience of this sense. The “hum” is like a stream going through the body which vibrates in response.

Their strong awareness is like a union with everything. When they spoke of “filling their world with their awareness,” it felt like the earth pulse we sometimes feel when we are very quiet lying in the grass. With this, came the impression of a world, both theirs and ours, that is liquid energy so that the tiniest change affects everything, and can be felt-known through an aware sensitivity.

I was surprised and delighted at their advice to see the garden without fences, and realized that it was meant to be unbounded. The fences affected the perspective so important in the design.

Then I watched the pair of great blue herons build their nest on an island in Stow Lake. I spoke with two people who stopped individually with me a while to watch. Strangers though we were, we shared a part of our stories. I learned about the fifty year impact of a childhood event on a life, and about nature as a continuity giving sense to human existence. I remembered the insight in The Celestine Prophecy (by James Redfield) that tells how we can support and learn from each other by telling freely what we know and listening to each other’s stories.

The herons offered the summary message,


The essence of relationship

Sharing stories freely

Increasing Conscious Knowledge

Brings the Planet Closer

To full participation,

Consciously, Lovingly,

In the Universe.

Its effect “felt”

Throughout the Whole.

The web of light and inter-relationship connects everything, at every scale.