Thursday, January 7, 2010

For the Birds

I wish you could see the birds in my backyard. It's early morning, and I'm supposed to be lacing up my Nikes and cranking out another 3.5 miles on the treadmill. Instead, I'm standing at my kitchen window, staring at the sublime feathered loveliness being displayed on our back deck. A family of house finches arrive all at once, each of them claiming a spot on the hanging feeder. The tufted titmouse is a little braver. He comes right up to the feeder attached to the window, grabs a nut from the stash, then holds it between his feet and hits it repeatedly with his beak, creating a knocking sound to let me know he's there. I smile and take another sip from my warm coffee mug.

We hadn't even unpacked the last box in our new home here in York when I excitedly hung a few feeders on that back deck. I was hoping to attract a sparrow, maybe a morning dove or two. Literally, within minutes of placing the feeders and suets in their chosen spots, the perches were filled with cardinals, blue jays, sparrows, goldfinches, nuthatches, titmice, chickadees, wrens, woodpeckers, and even an occasional bluebird.

I've had a blast observing my new feathered friends all spring and summer long, bringing their babies to the feeder and "showing" them how to get food for themselves (a few "mama's boys" still insist on HER feeding them!) and fighting over perches. But winter has brought a whole new fascination with these tiny creatures. It was twenty degrees outside last night. The wind howls, gusty and frigid. The snow has piled-up several inches deep, making their landings on the deck railing impossible. Still, they manage. They're here every morning.

I think of them as I bundle up; scarf, boots, hat, ridiculously heavy coat, all just to walk to the end of the driveway to retrieve the mail. All they have are feathers. Feathers and tiny, skinny legs and feet, completely exposed to the harsh elements. How do they survive? I watch as a big gust of wind kicks up, they brace themselves, growing puffier, heads down to absorb the blow. Day after frozen day. I'm amazed and humbled by these tiny, resilient creatures. The Bible says, "His eye is on the sparrow..." As I observe my stalwart, hardy friends standing their ground and surviving on my back deck, I believe with all my heart that this is true.

Suddenly, the treadmill really doesn't seem all that insurmountable...

Thanks for reading!!


CentFla said...

Psalm 91:4 ... He will cover you with his feathers. Under his wings you will take refuge.

Another beautiful entry! But those guys are ruining the windows with their poopie smudges!

Unknown said...

Beautiful piece, Joan. Loved reading it!

Jen Taft said...

Just heard this piece on NPR on how ducks keep their feet from freezing to the ice. Apparently they can actually change the blood flow somehow. And they say that all of that puffing up really does keep them warm. Go figure! Thanks for some beautiful images of winter without actually having ot shovel any snow.

Cougar Tales said...

I loved the story about you as a 7 yr old. I wish I had some wonderful words of wisdom for you that would ease your mind. Have you read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle? I am halfway is really difficult to read (for me) but I am trying to follow along and apply in baby steps. Your paragraph on waiting made me think about it.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your awesome comment! We certainly can't control the things we are dealt but we can control how we deal with them. :-)

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