Monday, January 11, 2010

Pour les oiseaux

Rarely to I appreciate that walk into work on Monday morning, particularly when it is a frigid grey morning with the promise of more snow to come.

Actually, it’s fair to say that I never appreciate that walk into work. But today was different.

I have this thing about trees and birds – really, about all the things my mother and I spied outside our kitchen window. Birds, trees, plants, squirrels (except, of course, when they were on the feeders), the garden… we loved them all. Mom was no expert but she had logged hundreds of hours staring out of those kitchen windows and cultivated more than a passing interest in the life that was buzzing around our little microcosm of a backyard. We had the binoculars and the field guides, and plenty of time on our hands.

Now I’m the one with more than a passing interest. As I’ve been dreaming about our home and how it will look and feel, over and over again I am drawn to these things. I imagine crafting a boot bench using the sturdy, fat trunk of a tree we took down from the back yard, the rough texture and nutty color of the bark so appealing in its familiarity. I found this nest last summer that I have tucked away to display on our mantle, miraculously saving it all these months from destruction at the hands of my sweet girl. And every Pottery Barn catalogue I find in the mail these days seems to know that I’m eagerly preparing for our long-awaited move home, as page after page offers rugs and pillows and dishes and sheets that feature birds and trees and flowers. I could - without a doubt - go crazy if left to my own devices.

Luckily I got a freebie today, some performance art put together by God (I am convinced) just for me on this cold, weary Monday. I saw it as I approached the ED entrance at the hospital, a flurry out of the corner of my eye that seemed a bit out of place at that moment in time. A small, ornamental tree I’ve grown so accustomed to seeing that I can’t even tell you what it is – but on this morning, it was alive with dozens of robins, hopping from branch to branch and feeding on the small dark berries it produces. The bird's russet breasts looked just like those last leaves of autumn, stubbornly clinging to the tree; the fluttering of their grey grey wings caused the tree to sway like a late fall wind was blowing, though the air was almost still where I stood. And then, when I had decided that the sight of it was as perfect as I could hope for, I saw a squirrel perched on one of the slender branches, his body plumped by fat and fur and his tail pulled up along its back to help brace against the cold.

And with that, it was perfect.

If there weren't patients waiting I would have stood there and watched this picture unfold in front of me in spite of the bitter weather, and if I could have reckoned a way to capture the moment and bring it into our new home I would. But it was fleeting, as all the best things in life must be, and so I’ll just have to look forward to the next time that God supplies an unexpected joy like the one I stumbled across today. With open eyes I suspect I can find many of these small masterpieces. He does have quite a canvas to work with, after all.

Maybe that’s why Mom spent so much time looking out that kitchen window.


elaine brenner said...

I assume it was looking out the kitchen window, leaning against the sink, smoking?

That's how I remember my mom. ;)

And look at you, with your french. Next thing you know you'll be singing Poulenc.

Ket said...

No no, no no... No Poulenc. :)