#24 Feeding Birds


Feeding Birds.

I love the small, thought-of-as-ordinary, birds. I thought retirement living close to the water would mean being without their presence so I gave away a car full of bird feeding paraphernalia when I moved, but a small flock of house sparrows and goldfinches were hanging out in the bushes around the house and I missed the daily comfort of watching these beloved little birds so I purchased a small hanging platform feeder and some seed.

A year later, I have added a tube feeder with safflower seeds and a new squirrel-proof, metal-meshed feeder with sunflower chips and a suet cage hangs above the platform swing filled with a mix of larger seeds and peanuts in the shell. You can see where I’m going with this…

I was happy to welcome a barely there tail-damaged red squirrel and a few of his or her relatives. Of course, the offering has also brought ravenous, pushy, blue jays followed by big gray squirrels that leap from the railing dumping anything in the feeder on the porch or the ground. The nature of squirrels is to steal and store whatever they can find, a species behavior making it tough for every hungry other. This year’s gray squirrels, particularly plump (and getting plumper), are highly competitive beings who don’t willingly share.

It might be possible to foil the smart and inventive grays for a little bit, but what if I want to help red ones not gray ones, tiny ones not big ones, males not females (or vise versa), brown ones, white ones, black, or blue ones? You can see where I’m going with this…

Lately a Red Bellied Woodpecker has come to the feeder and he or she flies in with intimidating wings outstretched. Much larger than all the rest, feathered or furred, it jabs its long powerful beak toward any who attempt sharing. Is this beautiful black and white stripped pearl gray stomached bird with vivid a red head nature’s balance or just another bully or is that the same thing?

While mulling this over, a gray squirrel leapt from the porch floor to the kitchen window screen in front of me making eye-to-I contact. Was this unprecedented move a recognition of me as the filler of feeders, a demand or request for more food, or a coincidence with no intent of communication at all?  Is my species behavior, my delight and joy seeing these fellow creatures close up, interfering with the natural order of things? How do I allocate my limited resources, and make decisions on who gets fed,  or housed, or helped? And do the bullies always dominate this world? You can see where I’m going with this…

#23 Bountiful


I drove the Pike in a spontaneous response to an invitation that I had not thought I could fulfill but, because the day was so gorgeous, I wanted to feel every last minute of it so I ventured forth. As time was tight I chose the fastest route and as I zoomed to match the speed of fellow travelers on the interstate, I turned on the radio and felt the power of rock ‘n roll reinforcing the spirit of the afternoon. It had been a long time. The toll booth man witnessed yet another crazy, her head bouncing to music, headed to the highway.

In the hour’s drive I felt the rightness of this geography, how I simply loved the light, the trees, what this land feels like, and how my psyche feels (expansive and grateful) being here. I do not claim anything but residence. My ancestors did not occupy this land yet it feels right anyway and the natives seem tolerant.

I’ve seen this happen in other places to other people.  A connection is made on a vacation, or via a workplace transfer, or whatever wildly creative reasons that urge geographical movement. In this new place we feel more like ourselves breathing more deeply, our psyche expands, we begin to sense possibilities. Something shifts.

For all the rightness of moves motivated by longing, this is not to suggest it is an easy path to completion. There is taxing physical effort, both leaving where we are and getting to where we will be. There is pain of separation from the known and, especially, the pain of separation from friends, family, colleagues. Never underestimate this pain and its frequent sidekick, loneliness, and the long path to making new connections. But this caution is not meant to deter.

There is no substitution for rightness which finds you. Somehow.

#22 Dark Water

Dark Water.

Early morning. This time of year the interval between first light and sunrise seems, somehow, longer. The clouds are low and heavy, hanging clumps of gray and darker gray, and the rain is making gravitational flow patterns on the outside of the windows. The lights coming from what appears to be a tug headed into port offers the only means of measuring time and distance.

Gunmetal. That’s the color of the water, the wave tops in stark white contrast as they break close to shore. The gulls swoop and dive suggesting this rough water—this chop—this non-rhythmic churn—is stirring up sea life, breakfast to these always hungry, always hunting, birds. A lone Common Eider dives below the surface, also seeking food. Why does such darkly shaded water feel angry?

As the rain falls harder my hope is that it will clean the salt spray splats left behind after covering the windows in the latest bout of high and furious ocean. Sheets of rain—nature’s window washing service even in cold months.

The sun will return, just not perhaps today. Light is always needed to contrast and balance this dark.

#21 Morning Star

Morning Star.

I woke before dawn and saw a very bright Venus in the east very low on the horizon. The rising sun is showing what is to come as the orange streaks where the water meets the sky intensify but the star is still holding its own as morning light unfolds.

A few years ago I would have been distraught at being awakened at such an early hour. There were too many things to cram into the coming day and every bit of sleep was needed to meet those demands. Now such moments as this resemble prayer. If there is regret, it is not for the given-up job or a lifestyle formed by work. This transition into “old” or “useless” brings astounding reverence. Grace is what comes through the privilege of witnessing day coming into being. Peace is what comes from the silence watching light replace dark.

This morning Venus was the gift point of awareness, the guide signaling that paying attention would be rewarded.  How many such opportunities fill each and every day?