Sunday, January 3, 2010

Everyday Birds

Trixie and I are sitting at the kitchen table, watching the birds dart in and out of our two feeders. We are fairly novice bird feeders, though I grew up with grandparents who were avid feeders of the birds (and squirrels) in their yards. Both had huge picture windows looking out onto their backyards from which, even without the large pair of binoculars always present on the sill, you could see large numbers of sparrows, wrens, cardinals, juncos, nuthatches, titmouses...and the occasional opposum who had found her way into the large squirrel house, or the rare flying squirrel we were lucky enough to spot.

We have a gallon milk jug, painted by Anika during coop last year, and a small wooden feeder, both of which hold your run of the mill millet-sunflower seed mix. We have attracted a few regulars, mostly chickadees and the occasional sparrow or the even more occasional comical red-breasted woodpecker who attempts to hang on while rummaging through the seeds for something tasty!

We have a tradition in our family that started about 4 years ago, of finding the first bird of the year, and having it be "your bird" for that year. It has been fun to feel connected to a particular species for that period of time, and we always wonder with anticipation what bird will find us when the year changes: great blue heron for 2006 (Dan swears I must have had my eyes closed until I sensed a "cool" bird nearby. He's just sore cause his was a duck.); towhee for 2007; mockingbird for 2008; junco for 2009. We have often taken a walk on New Year's day - which seems to be how we celebrate most special days of our year - and that affords more possibilities for this particular project. This year found us glued to the house, mostly due to the stomach flu passing through. I was in this very spot, trying to decide whether or not I was feeling ill, when I saw my bird - one of our regular chickadees. I felt a little let down, I'll admit, just because it wasn't one of the bluebirds from our walk last week or the pileated woodpecker that we will see once in a while traveling through the neighborhood, but really, how lovely to know that I will spend the year visiting with "my" bird and its mate.
Carolina Chickadee

Song Sparrow

The girls spent about 15 minutes running around in the cold air of the morning, and came running by the window to shout to me, "Song Sparrow!!!!!!!!!! In the backyard!!!!!!" There are several species of sparrows found here, but I've showed them various pictures and they maintain that this was the one. Another "regular" but lovely everyday bird.

Dan was also housebound and recovering for most of New Year's Day, and even though he got the girls back outside for some serious romping in the late afternoon, he told me sadly that he had not seen a bird. Not one bird. No matter! It's the first bird of the New Year, no time limit on that. So on the way to the Farmer's Market on Saturday, he finally saw his bird - the crow. It will sound funny to say, but I am a little jealous. I love the crow. But again, an everyday kind of bird. Which resonates a bit with the thoughts I'm having about the new year. I don't feel particularly "washed clean" at the new year - maybe I need to incorporate more ritual, more of the letting go of the old and contemplative inviting in of the new - but I am always up for the opportunity to push the restart button. I have not had any grand thoughts of resolutions, no long lists, no epiphany about how to reorder our lives. What I have had is a little voice present with me of late that keeps reminding me of things I should already know, things like: what you have is Now. There is no Later. All that you have is Now. Be present with it, find the joy, the meaning, the connection now, do not wait for X - for graduate school to end, for the job to come, for the girls to grow, for the spirit to speak to me in that special way that makes it All Clear.

A friend included this quote in her holiday card this year, and it was just another reminder of the power of now:

The present
is the ever moving shadow
that divides yesterday
from tomorrow.

In that lies hope.

Frank Lloyd Wright

I'm thinking more light than shadow, but the idea is there. The light of the present, holding hope, holding all that is. The everyday. It's a good place to start.

*bird images courtesy of stock images on Google - but the bluebird in the header is mine!


Stacy (Mama-Om) said...

I love it! The first bird, the now, the everyday.

You and I are psychically connected! :) I've been writing a post about our new year's evening, struggling to communicate what you so effortlessly shared: finding now.


J & Reba said...

dear d,

I am so happy that your bird is the black capped chickadee. That is my favorite bird! It IS everyday 'tis true, but it also is such a faithful friend. It is the bravest little bird! It comes to the feeder first before any other birds because it is so brave. It braves the coldest of days staying here year round, and it always has a song. now that i know it is "your" bird for the year, i will think of you whenever i see one.

Stephanie said...

I love the chickadee.
I love their chubbiness, and their sweetness, and their sound... definitely one of my favorite birds. :)