By Naomi Klouda
One day as I chopped vegetables for a simmering stew, a warm summer out my open patio door, a tiny bird joined me on a living room lamp. From the kitchen, the bird’s chirps sounded sweet, a song I was learning to listen for in this new found summer of freedom. I continued adding broth and vegetables and returned to my computer to write a few more sentences, all without knowing the bird sat nearby.
When my friend arrived for dinner, we were halfway through the meal before he asked if I knew a bird was in the living room. The little tweety thing remained secretive and suddenly showed herself in panic.
A nuthatch of some kind wearing striped black and white feathers on her head. My friend gently guided her back out and without injury, she flew and landed on a barrier bush out front banked against traffic noises. I felt relieved she didn’t die in the encounter with my lamp, walls and house.
All kinds of bird traffic makes a flyway zone of my yard. I had no idea. From my desk, parked near a window, it unfolds in near daily drama. One day two magpies brought their argument from elsewhere to the top of my spruce tree. For hours it seemed they brawled. Arguing loud enough to bring me to the porch more than once. I had never seen magpies swipe at one another. Eventually they left, leaving me to wonder if they took their argument to another tree or if they found a way to resolve it.
In the midst of this warm summer, and a chance gratefully taken from our Homer Tribune publisher to take it off for my own writing project, I had a few computer issues. Heavily accented people in India guided me through steps to restore my new computer when programs failed. Lots of on-hold time and the birds out my window or open door grabbed my focus. One day, a red-breasted robin bounced on my clothes line, trampoline like, trying it out. It wasn’t the first time I noticed the clothes line gave me a birding advantage. Close to the window, I appraise all kinds of landing birds. This came as the first witness of a bouncing, though, a trying out of that kind.
A pair of cranes showed up one day. I am not that far out of town. This isn’t the kind of neighborhood where we attract the red-crested Sandhill cranes. More secluded places in Homer call crane pairs back home year after year and they go to those places. Yet a pair wandered across my yard in a rare impulse, examined the potatoes and seemed to comment before my open greenhouse door. They didn’t enter. They progressed to the neighbors, where a cat, black and yellow in distinctive tiger print ambled toward them, soon to cower beneath his owner’s vehicle.
One of the cranes made a big show of spread wings, towering itself in wings raised like flexed muscles, stick legs standing straight. It stayed after the cat in threat, pecking its six inch sharp beak on the ground in demonstration. Perhaps the cat’s kind had hurt or killed the couple’s colt since none traveled with them. The cat didn’t test the crane’s threat. It sat still, unreachable. The cranes, cranky and restless, left, their outrage apparent to the neighbor’s cat and me.
The other day, again talking to India over a computer program issue, the patio door stood open to the warm day soon to bring rain. I had watered the potatoes, outside, the tomatoes, inside the greenhouse. Didn’t need to do that, after all, since a deluge arrived for the potatoes to drink up and rain wets cloistered tomatoes plenty enough simply by being in the air. Poised between a warm day and chill arriving on the wind, I closed the patio door.
Not five minutes passed and I stood in alarm from my computer to look out the window. It sounded like someone threw a rock. I went to examine for broken or cracked glass. A little yellow-breasted Pine Siskin lay throbbing on my deck. Soon, the throbbing stilled as the life left her. I picked up the bird and tried to think, what to do?
I found the shovel and dug her a suitable grave. If only I had waited before closing the glass door. I felt responsible.
I don’t know how to sort the issues of ownership or stewardship or “leaving alone-ship.” Who knew this many travails existed in my yard? I had no idea. It gave me comfort, nonetheless, to claim the little misflown Pine Siskin as my responsibility to be properly buried. I am a person accustomed to people, seeing problems as peculiar to them. That day I found myself as a news reporter wanting to tell everyone the birds’ news. In my yard, all these years, the birds might have been bouncing, brawling, confronting, bumping, going astray? And I’d no chance to know. Or didn’t pay attention.
I will be glad to rejoin you all soon. In the meantime, I’ll keep watch on my yard. And finish my own writing project, now that those competent people in India helped me make sure I didn’t lose it in a faulty word program. Amazing how thorough and polite the tech help is from India. But, I will be happy to be back with the Homer Tribune news team and people nearby to talk with.
See you soon!
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