Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Birds Know.

It really doesn't feel like spring here yet, it's still cold, with a lot of ice on the lake. The snow is gone, but the grass is still bleached buff and brown, the trees bare, and the meadow just a tangle of stalks, and twigs, and sand blown up from the beach.
But the birds know! They know in their bones, with a surety I can only envy. What must it be like to know something so profoundly, without ever being told? Because I am in a space of questioning and relearning and finding balance, I envy their certainty.
They are so cheerfully industrious right now. The sparrows inspect bits of grass, picking and choosing. "This one? No. This one? No. This one? YES, this is the perfect two inch piece of grass, the exact piece I need for my nest." And off she goes.
The grackles, who are among my absolute favorite birds, are courting and swaggering. They are so beautiful with their oil-slick black feathers and alert yellow eyes, and I love their confident, cocky, obstreperous attitude. Sadly, they have the most un-musical call of any bird, they sound like squeaky clotheslines. The males will fluff out their feathers, expanding to impress the lady of the moment, pause imposingly, and produce a loud, unmelodious, drawn out "GRAWK", which I am sure is a most welcome sign of devotion.
We've had cardinals around all winter but they are silent in the coldest months, only in the last few weeks have the males begun to call and court. Perched at the very tops of the trees, their sweet calls and trills and whistles always cheer me up. It's fun to try to spot them, and it's almost as though they know when I've figured out where they they often fly off once I've located them. Perhaps they do know.
The other winter birds are busier too, the chickadees, and house finches, and juncos and wrens are all taking notice of each other. There is finally birdsong at dawn and into the morning. When the lake thaws, waves against the shore, and birdsong, will greet me when I wake up.
The robins are back, plump and sassy. And how they scold when they see the cat! She's oblivious, the only thing on her mind is trying (unsuccessfully) to find some green grass to eat, while the robins hover and call "CAT, cat cat cat cat", or that's how it sounds! The red-winged blackbirds are back too, with their trilling call. Dad always said they were saying "Come for DINner"! And mourning doves, with their softly tinted feathers and their mild, melancholy calls of "I'm a Dove, dove, dove, dove". Did you know that the whistling noise when a mourning dove flies off is not a call, but is made by their wing feathers?
I have heard, but not seen, the Tundra swans that pass by each year. They sound like puppies (really!), a soft sweet yelping, as they fly over on their way north. They rest at a provincial park just an hour or so from here each year, but I've never managed to see them on the ground. When I do catch a glimpse of them in flight, they are lovely, gleaming white and silvery shapes against the grey sky. Magical.
I haven't seen any Northern Flickers yet, or goldfinches, and it's much too early for hummingbirds, but I trust the birds. I have faith. Spring will come.

"All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well".

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