Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bird Watching, Old Age and a Lesson

 Eastern Phoebe

Phoebes, Ruby Crowned Kinglets, Juncos (they have returned), I think a Kingbird, Downy Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, an unidentified Sparrow and the many regulars are all out in the perennial garden, visiting the birdbath, hopping through the privet hedge, looking under the rhubarb leaves in the Hortus Conclusus. I so love watching them! I never get tired of it. A phoebe has spent a good amount of time here on the roof outside the dining room window, so I have been able to make eye contact with it and admire its soft feathers. It seems so much smaller up close than how it appears from further away.

view from my seat in the Dining Room
It is Sunday morning and I am sick. I have a very bad head cold. Stuffed up and face pain. I did not go with Bob to church today. I don't have much energy. So it is a delight to sit at the dining room table with my coffee and watch the birds outside. Especially since Bob removed the screens yesterday as the temperatures have begun to drop. No more opening the windows this season.

Where I sit each morning with my coffee to write my Morning Pages, read, reflect
 At this moment I think that if I had to pick one thing that I could do for the rest of my life, it would be to sit here and watch the birds. I must make it known to my husband and children that in the event I have a debilitating stroke or develop Alzheimer's, they need to place me each day in front of a window that overlooks a garden. A garden that contains a bird bath and feeders and that isn't overly manicured. I would be content.

This reminds me of Pops. Pops was an old man who lived with his family two houses away from us in Howard Beach (a suburb of NYC, in Queens) where I grew up. There were no houses across the street from us. There was a ten foot or so wide strip of sandy soil between the street and the fence that marked the back of the Big Bow Wow parking lot. Pops would go to that area across the street from his house each morning with a coffee can filled with bird seed. He would scatter it on the ground with his hand. Then he would sit at the window and watch the house sparrows and starlings come and eat it. He did this every day. I remember there came a time when he couldn't go out to scatter the seed anymore, but he still sat at the window. I believe his family members continued to put the seed out for him, but I don't recall seeing them do so. I do remember at least one time when I scattered the seed for Pops. I don't recall if my mother suggested I go over and ask if I could, or I was already outside and the neighbor invited me to do it. Regardless, it was a special privilege! I do remember my mother telling me when I went out to walk our dog, to look up at the window (it was one of those large bay windows that they put in raised ranches in the 1970s) and smile and wave at Pops. I did that often. He would always wave back. Until one day he didn't. He was still sitting there, I would wave, but he didn't wave back. He looked somehow different. It wasn't too long after that that he was no longer there to wave to.

Reflecting back on this now, I realize that was good advice my mother gave to me. We can, in even a small way, pay attention to someone and let them know that we see them. Simple, yet powerful.

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