It’s a day “not fit for man nor beast.” Yet there are the birds…
Slippery gray slush stripes the road out front, but I’m not going anywhere, and the birds, well, they can fly. And their focus and mine is not the road, or neighbors, or even the field, opposite side of the house…
I am sitting by the window that looks out on my chosen “secret spot” for this one hour of this morning.
Quite an open “secret,” as Husband passes by, glancing sidelong and quizzical.
“I’m having breakfast with the birds,” I tell him.
He just smiles; he knows me.
They’re busy at the feeder. I sit, plate in lap, with luscious little homemade pita filled with omelet, colored bright and flavored rich with broccoli and herbed minced onion left from dinner yesterday and a few melted shreds of good wheel cheese from the country store.
Husband wouldn’t touch this, and he’s had his early chow, now headed out to tramp through snow-sleet up the hill to sharpen tools by woodstove warmth in the old milk house turned wood shop.
I first veiled my presence by curtain lace, inside light extinguished, to see them without them seeing me. By now I’ve pushed the lace aside a bit, to clear my view, acclimate them to my intrusion, and pushed down the upper sash, to listen.
I hear, faint and distant, a “twert-twert-twert-twert,” then a sort of gutteral trill. But these birds nearby are strangely quiet today. At last I hear familiar “chickadee-dee-dee” (but brief) and later some plain chirps of sparrows, but mostly there’s serious silence of song.
The weather whispers round me though, sparkling tinkle of fine sleet, a sort of auditory glitter.
Soon it hits my window pane and sill in larger beads, and bursts of blops, leaving tracks upon the glass…
And bird wings beat, intermittent, a drum of air, and when something startles, the fleeing flock makes collective “Whoosh!”
Me, I sit still and just let them be. The cold steals in down the window pane and cools my feet and I don’t mind. The curtains pulled fully back now, I feel I’m a silent member, almost in their midst.
No big thoughts, no deep lessons. Just me in the morning, sitting, in community with the birds.
That alone brings a warm sort of peace.
If I repeated this enough, I’d start to see not just a flock, nor different species, but unique personalities, and yes, birds do have them. I note some individual quirks already: in the downy’s own personal flight path in, in one cardinal’s repeated glancing over his shoulder at the bigger, sharp-beaked flicker whose curled claws cling to suet cage…
They come and go, nibble and leave. They watch their surrounds—and neighbors— wary, but they neither sow nor reap, and yet they’re fed—ultimately not by the can that dumps seed into the feeder, nor the human hand that flicks it sideways down, but “their heavenly Father” (Mt 6:26). And perhaps that subconscious truth running beneath this shade of maple is source of this serenity.
Giving thanks this morning for…
- stripes decorating road out front,
- shelter from the wet,
- sound of bird wing, beat and flutter,
- tinkling of sheer sleet spray,
- endearing buzz of “chickadee-dee-dee!”
- signature songs of other feathered friends,
- delightful detail and variety, even individualization, among His feathered creations,
- cold-dropping draft, reminding me what a gift warmth is,
- feeding-flock reminder of the Father’s ready provision,
- excuse of a “snow day” to linger longer, (in)
- maple-shadow serenity.