Hide and see

The bird hide

About 30 minutes from my childhood home was the Minsmere bird reserve – a marshy oasis of salty brackish water on the eroding Suffolk coast.

I went there on a school trip and we were shepherded into one of the hides – those crouching sheds that get close up to the birds.

Inside it was dark except for a strip of light, where keen birders poked their telescopes and long lenses out towards “The Scrape” – the Hilton of habitats.

In here it was silent and intimidating.

And nail-pulling boring, with its letterbox view of brown specks knee-deep in muddy water.

Indeed, most of my classmates were quickly shooed out before their shouts shooed away the birds. I – well repressed out in public – suffered the boredom in silence. I would have preferred to be ambling by the ponds, out under the sky.

The hide was a place to see. Hidden from the birds, the half-closed eyelids of the hide constrained interest. This place was to be with the birds and nothing but.

Were I to go back 40 years later, I would love to spend time in this hide. I would adore the darkness and its widescreen view. And yes, I would love the boredom.

In our overstimulated world, we don’t have enough boredom. There’s always a quick hit of dopamine. It takes constriction and silence to calm our minds and see.

Through that slit of boredom, I would truly experience.