The bluejays are nesting in the south-facing gutter again, while on the north side of the house, mourning doves have made a home in the eaves. The two small feeders we suctioned onto the windows have become popular feeding spots, and we especially love the picky ones, who come and sort through the seed, tossing the ones they don’t like to the ground like someone annoyed that there are no M&Ms left in the trail mix.
Every spring, I remember: The house is on their land, these birds whose descendants will outlive our stay here. For now, they do the only thing they can do, which is no small feat. Resourceful and clever, no structure will stop them from building what needs to be built, caring for and keeping safe their young, and staying as far from predators as possible.
As for us, we do our best not to be among the predators. There is the neighborhood fox, who saunters up the next-door driveway in the early mornings like he owns the joint. Word on the street is that there’s a raccoon the size of a golden retriever, though probably not as interested in a game of fetch. A few days ago, I spotted a hummingbird in the quince bushes, so quick it had vanished up into the trees by the time my eyes could try to track it.
Inside, the puppy sleeps after a 6:00am date with her kibble. She is finding her place and reshaping our family, reminding us that whatever happened last night is, in fact, yesterday’s news. We water houseplants on the window sills, bringing a little bit of the outside in, and this time of year when green is ubiquitous, I love the way the harsh borders blur between them. Windows open, feet bare, and a hush after the first burst of birdsong announcing a new day.
* * *
Such Singing in the Wild Branches
by Mary Oliver
It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb
in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still
and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,
when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,
and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward
like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed
not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky–––all of them
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last
For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,
is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?
Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.