Sunday, January 1, 2012

Snack&Bath on B Street

My friend, the oak titmouse, at a more bountiful moment. 
I hadn't filled the bird feeders yesterday afternoon, though I should have; they were pretty low. A glance this morning through the window over the sink and I saw they were all seriously empty, even the bench where I place bread crumbs, mealworms, those little red peanuts. The backyard was still and barren, rigid in the pearly morning cold; no flutter of leaves or bird wing, no whistles or chirps. Everything had given up  - I felt empty and unresponsive myself, quiet and cold. And yet, there was one lone grey bird, an oak titmouse, bulky with fluffed up feathers, perched patiently in the bare branches of the runty plum tree.

Okay, I get it, my birdy friend, but first, coffee. And a smackeral of breakfast.

By the time the coffee had spluttered to its end, the whole darn crew had descended upon our yard to join the buzzy-voiced oak titmouse; white-capped sparrows, house finches, purple finches, blustery scrub jays. They were perched everywhere, on the sorry-assed plum tree, the bedraggled apple tree further back, the tomato cages laced with brown vines and frozen tomatoes I haven't taken down yet. Little fluffy sentinels of reproach, unmoving, just sitting there.

The toast popped up and I buttered it - but I couldn't take it anymore. I slipped several layers over my pj's and out I went into the new morning; the birds, as usual, fleeing as the screen door banged shut behind me. I worked swiftly (it was barely above freezing; my hands were stiff and achy), filling up the two depleted feeders, dribbling the little red peanuts and dried mealworms along the bench, promising the goldfinches that I'd get more nyger seeds for them later on.

Back inside, nibbling on reheated toast, hands hugging a steaming coffee mug, I glanced through the kitchen window. All was still, no avian buzz and chatter. Had they decamped in disgust for more provident pastures? But by the time I plunked my plate in the sink and poured another cup, the back yard was a fluttering tableau of birds; finches squabbling around the tube feeder, sparrows making quick work on the mealworm bench and everyone taking baths and drinking up - another fabulous morning at the  Snack&Bath on B Street.

I'd never felt that birdfeeder's guilt so strongly before. I've always figured, you know, birds: they're opportunists, they'll hustle on to their next stop, they'll find something else and come back later. Today, even though I wasn't able to recognize any one single particular bird, it's as if they were my "regulars" waiting patiently outside the plate glass windows and doors of my cafe, while I dilly-dallied around in my felted slippers and fuzzy robe, late to open.

It felt good to open the doors. A new morning, a new year.