Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Watching Birds

As you know by now, birds have become a favored company of mine these days. I've gone through a canine period, during which I had a Doberman pinscher and several miniature pinschers and later groomed dogs for many years. And then there was a feline era, when I married Tony and had to share him with his old cat Itmay. Eventually, we took into our lives Yin and Yang and, later, Miss Girl and then, when all the others were gone, Princess came into my life. Cats notwithstanding, this seems destined to be my avian era.

I am literally surrounded by birds. Not only the crows and bluebirds I've spoken of already, an occasional kestrel or hawk and even a pair of golden eagles, now and then an owl in the oak tree, and not even just the flocks of magpies and sparrows or the turkey buzzards soaring ceaselessly above the hills . . . not only all of those, but I have to have nine birds in the house!

A couple of mornings ago, I watched two western bluebirds checking out the living conditions in the bluebird house Jeff put up for me. It's positioned on top of a metal pole several feet high, so no cat can climb up to it. These birds took turns looking into the hole that constitutes the entryway--one waiting on the fence while the other looked, then exchanging places. They seemed to be excited. Then, from out of the blue (sorry, couldn't resist) another pair of bluebirds flew in. They had a short exchange of impolite "words" before they all flew away. I haven't seen any more inspection going on. My fingers are crossed. Maybe I need to contact a realtor.

Then there's the little towhee who's fascinated by his reflection in the truck mirrors, sometimes practically tipping upside down to see his face.
At other times he flings himself at the glass, in an effort to drive the other little fellow away. He's been seen doing the same with reflections in the bumper or wherever else he sees another little towhee. I can't help wondering where there is real little towhee to keep him company. It would be nice if he could abandon his fruitless efforts.

As I began to say, this seems to be my avian era. I don't know why I should even think to divide my life in this way. I might as easily say this is my hermitess era, since I am living alone, enjoying activities that require an absence of the usual expectations of life. I take care of the animals who share my life and living space. I keep piles of books on my bed because I never know just which one will suit my mood when I turn on my little reading light, put on my spectacles, take that great breath that readies the body for rest, and reach for a book.

Some mornings, after the cat and birds are fed and cleaned, I sit down at my new electronic piano for a time of music. I can play for five minutes and then go tend to something I just remembered needed doing. Or I can play for two hours. Nothing tells me I must or must not please myself. It is a wonderful feeling, in a way. And I can play anything I want to play. Sometimes it's songs from movies: Candle on the Water from the movie Pete's Dragon and Can You Feel the Love Tonight out of The Lion King. Or old favorites like the one Tony especially liked, Vincent; or the one my dad thought I played and sang better than anyone in the world, Peace in the Valley (sorry Red Foley). And sometimes I get out the Broadman Hymnal and just play and sing some of the old church songs from my teen years at the Whosoever Will Mission.

While I play, the birds react by quietly listening to the more soothing music or becoming lively and noisy when I play something like Sunlight in my Soul Today or Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue. When the music is right, Turtle, the bird closest to the piano (whom I call "my gorgeous little fat girl") closes her eyes and makes herself into a round feather ball. But when I stop, she opens her eyes and makes one commanding chirp. When I play again, she goes back into her trance. Where would I find a better audience? I should mention that after I've been playing for a few minutes, I often feel a soft movement beside me and look down to see Princess lying on the piano bench with her little paws tucked beneath her chest, quietly just being with me.

So, what, I ask myself, am I really doing at this time of my life? Enjoying my solitude. Yes. Enjoying my creatures, tame and wild. Yes. Learning as fast as I can from books and lectures on DVD and internet research.
Yes. Maybe I'm kind of like the little towhee, trying to find myself in a mirror. And, like the towhee, it certainly appears that I am enjoying myself. But, I ask again, what am I really doing? I can only say, in one of Tony's frequent sayings, "I'm working on it!"

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