Over the summer, my office was visited daily by a small flock of sparrows. They would fly to our parking lot individually, as if they were worried that people would notice if they all flew in together. They would eat something out of the weeds that had grown in the cracks of our parking lot. Under Tom’s truck, he always parks in the same spot, was the best growth of weeds and the little birds would fight each other for the treats that awaited them there. I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs. – Joseph Addison (1672 – 1719), ‘The Spectator’
I had to look for them carefully. They usually fed on the weeds for only about a half hour each day. They would fly in, eat whatever it was that tasted good in that dry mess under Tom’s truck and then fly away just as quickly. Every time the lawncare company came, I held my breath, hoping that they would neglect the weeds in the parking lot for one more week so I could still see my little birds.
You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird… So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing — that’s what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something. – Richard Feynman (1918 – 1988)
Today, Tom’s truck is gone. He is vacationing for Thanksgiving, along with the rest of the nation. The weeds are still there. They have gathered the crispy dark red leaves from the trees that separate our parking lot from the neighboring business. There is some hint of green, but the birds have long gone. I know these sparrows don’t fly south for the winter. Those fat little birds are still here, but whatever attracted them to that patch of weeds in August is gone and they have no reason to come to me every day.
Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them? – Rose Kennedy (1890 – )
I miss them. Old Cowboy Winter has hit us hard with a biting North Wind and snow of all shapes and sizes. We have already been hit with the big fluffy flakes, the tiny ice pellets that go right through my clothing and feel like microscopic knives on my face, and the mushy slush in between. We’ve had white-out conditions. We’ve had icicles clinging to the bottom of our cars and off the edges of our rain gutter. We’ve had all of it melt with warm South winds. It’s only the end of November and we’ve already had all that the Old Cowboy could throw at us and we’re expecting more.
I don’t know where you hide, but I have a feeling I won’t see you for months. Snuggle tight, little birds.