Sitting in my backyard on a warm, summer evening. A good book in my hands and my favorite potent potable on a table next to me. The sun was warm, but not too hot. There were clouds building to the West, harbingers of storms moving in from the western Great Lakes. At this moment, however, all seemed good and right with the world.
As I read, I kept one eye on the bird feeder in the yard. It’s not much. An iron post with two hooks. On one is an Oriole feeder filled with home-made nectar. These beautiful orange and black birds are like so many people, they have an insatiable sweet tooth. One cup of white granulated sugar in six cups of water. Put it out and watch the fun!
On the other hook hangs our seed feeder. A not quite cylindrical glass container with a ‘roof’ and a seed tray into which the seeds flow from three openings under the glass. We get many visitors. Besides the ‘regulars,’ the Sparrows and Grackles, (I can’t get these folks to stay away. They show up and throw the seeds all over the ground), there are Cardinals and Blue Jays. Occasionally, I’ve seen Flickers and Red-Headed Woodpeckers. And, of course, there are the Finches. The two varieties that frequent or buffet are the Goldfinch and the House Finch.
Of these two, the House Finch is the most regular visitor. They usually show up in small groups, a male or two and two to three females. The males have red-hued feathers on their heads and necks. Many times they arrive and bless us with a song before they jump onto the seed tray and collect their wage. Having been a practicing musician, I know how that works. You show up, play and collect your money. These pipers, however, work ‘cheep.’ The coloring of the females is rather non-descript. Browns and grays with some darker streaks. They don’t seem as vocal as the males. But, I’m no ornithologist. My observations are somewhat limited.
On this particular evening, I looked over the top of my book and pulled my readers down on my nose, the better to see the feeder fifteen feet away. A female was sitting in the seed tray looking rather comfortable. This struck me as unusual. Birds commonly land on the feeder and stand on the edge of the seed tray, grab a snack and fly off to enjoy it. Sometimes, they stand in the tray. But, always, they stand. All of these birds are a bit on the skittish side. Standing, they can quickly escape any threat. This female was sitting! Well, at least as near as birds can sit. She quietly nestled herself into the tray and leisurely picked away at the shelled bounty around her. For no less than five minutes we enjoyed the evening together. I, in my lounge chair, she lounging in the feeder. We were like two old acquaintances gathered in a living room. No words were spoken, but communication took place. She told me that she was grateful for the snacks. “This café provides some of the best black sunflower seeds in the neighborhood. Oh, and the millet is to die for!” I told her that she was more than welcome. “I am delighted,” I said, “to offer you the hospitalitie du maison, my dear Ladyfinch.” My still, quiet presence soothed her apprehension and fear. Her presence and posture told me that she felt secure. Even with a human in the room!
In those few moments I experienced a small taste of Creator’s blessing. I imagined a time before time when the Native People roamed this Turtle Island, a world where all of Creator’s children lived in harmony. Ours, however, has become a world of dysfunction and destruction. Fear has leeched into every cell; every molecule. We even fear and war against the sun, moon and stars. The small creatures of the world fear humans and each other. We humans fear the small creatures…and each other. We are afraid that the economy will falter, or worse. Some are paralyzed by a fear of stepping out of their homes.
Has it always been this way? Some say no. They say that there was a paradisiacal garden very long ago. However, humanity, attempting to grasp at the Divine, brought ruin and destruction. Others say that the cosmos has always been a dangerous place. The fears and phobias that we strive with are deeply ingrained in our very DNA from tens of thousands of years of trying to survive. I’m not sure. One thing I am sure of, for about five minutes on a warm, summer evening Ladyfinch and I shared peace and contentment.
What experiences have you had interacting with God’s good creation? What kinds of things cause you to fear? Feel free to comment without fear.