Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Day Three Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Six . . . Birds Of Prey

Something happened yesterday that affected me more deeply than I thought.

A couple of years ago my wife and I installed a birdhouse in our back yard. We got it specifically for the bluebirds who spend time here seemingly all throughout the year. They are so sublime in their coloring and they seem to just enjoy sitting, eating, and sleeping. They aren't too big and they aren't tiny. They are round and fluffy and they almost seem to smile from time to time. When I see them I can't help singing "Mr Bluebird's on my shoulder . . . "

In short, they make us happy.

We were told that the best place for the birdhouse is on a tall pole in the middle of the most wide open area in the yard. It seems that the bluebirds enjoy not only the inside of the house but also sitting on top and being able to survey what's going on around them. So we bought a pole that screws into the ground--it's about 6' tall--and it has a podium to screw the birdhouse onto.

We have a couple of pairs of binoculars which we use to watch all manner of wildlife that enjoy what we call our backyard to go about their lives. We call it ours but it's really just an area that abuts a sizable parcel of conservation land. So really it's for any non-human who cares to walk, hop, crawl of fly into its boundaries. My mom and aunt would love it.

So these bluebirds--there seem to be three or four of them--enjoy this birdhouse very much. Every time either Jodi or I see one we get so happy. My eyesight isn't as great as it used to be but I can still spot the bright blue tufts on the birds head and back. I say out loud "blue-bird" to her and we both get the binoculars and check them out for a minute or so.

I had to clean the birdhouse out last year. It was incredible how thick, neat and well made their nest was. I rather hated to remove it. But we were instructed that this is something that needs to be done every year so that the following spring the bluebirds can start afresh and build a new nest, lay their eggs and raise their family.

We have a good friend who is well versed in birds, plants and gardening. She is somewhat of an oracle. She had warned us recently that if we saw sparrows going in and out of the birdhouse then that is a sign of trouble, as sparrows typically end up invading the birdhouse, killing the inhabitants and taking over. They eventually mark their territory by adding onto the well-made and meticulous bluebird-made nest with their own haphazard and indiscriminate scraps. They pile it on top and use what was there as a foundation.

Yesterday she was over and we decided to have a look.

We turned the lock on the back door of the bird house and lifted it open. To our shock we were greeted with a bright blue feather sticking out from the middle of the cross section of nest. But this feather was connected. It was connected to the rest of a once-beautiful bluebird. The poor thing had been killed sitting on its own nest, and it seemed that the sparrow that did it had begun piling onto it a mess of twigs and grass.

Our friend immediately pulled the nest out and angrily threw it on the ground.

"This is just horrible!", she said. "Those sparrows are so brutal."

I proceeded to dust out what I could from the bottom of the house and we decided to put it back up in case the bluebirds who were left needed a home. I had said if I saw any sparrows in it I'd take it down and we'd put it away for a while.

Today I saw exactly that and went to check the house. Sure enough there was a mess of straw and grass and twigs inside it--the start of a sparrow house--so I shook it out and brought it inside.

We will have to see if the bluebirds return and, if so, whether it is safe to put the house back up. I don't really want to feel responsible for any more preventable bird deaths. Once again, I have too much of my mom and aunt inside me to let this happen.

But this all was very much unsettling.

We are living in increasingly unstable times, and many mornings I wake up in a bit of a panic. This feeling subsides as I my consciousness settles in and my day gets rolling. But some days it's enough to make me just want to just stay in bed until it gets dark again.

I know I'm not alone in this.

I feel like the world is so fractious and unpredictable that sometimes when I make it through to the end of the day and I'm brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed I get so excited that I get to sleep and turn off for seven hours.

It used to be that I hated to go to sleep because there was so much to do--so much to live for in the waking world.

I'd call this a byproduct of getting older (today is my 48th birthday) but I think it's a combination of many things.

I think the reason seeing the bluebird's lifeless body trapped between two disparate nests affected me so deeply is that it is a significant analogy to the way my life used to be. And I see how every day I am faced with uncertain dangers from most directions.

I try and keep my life orderly and organized. And while I'm far from perfect I'm happy to say that the streams of responsibility--bills, meetings, rehearsals, gigs, life events, etc--they all seem to flow pretty smoothly into the ocean that is existence in my world today.

I like to keep an eye on what's going on around me--not in a paranoid sense, but more so just to try and stay aware in case I need to make a sudden decision.

But I like to also be able to crawl inside my box and peer out from within, while sitting atop the nest that I created--my everyday version of sticks, grass, stone and mud. But, of course, this perspective only allows for so much in ones view. They say "don't look back" but reflection is important, and awareness is even more essential.

And I admittedly show off a little bit--fluffing my plumage here and there (I am a performer after all)--but I try to keep things in check and realize that life isn't all about attention. This is extremely difficult for me to remember being the only child of an overly doting mother.

I enjoy making the bed every morning and smoothing out the wrinkles in the sheets and preparing for the coming sleep in a matter of thirteen hours of conscious living. It's my way of sweeping out the nest for the next cycle of slumber.

But the sparrows are everywhere. Some are very much real and some are self-made. They exist in every city in every state in every country all around the world. And they are not content to live life on life's terms. They exist to take what they want and smother anyone who gets in their way. They see a doorway to a sanctuary and decide that this is what they want and they come in and take it without warning.

I don't struggle with temptation often, but it happens from time to time. And when it does I feel like a sparrow is staring at me square in the face waiting for just the right moment to pounce. I see people all around me who are dealing with their demons (or, rather, not dealing with) and I wish I could help. I have reached out to many but it is often not easy to accept help until help is the only option.

And all that said, I will try to live like the bluebird today.

I will enjoy my surroundings and the neat little nest I have built--a personal ecosystem created with rational, healthy, and conscious decisions.

I will attempt to live in the moment and not look too far ahead or too far behind.

I will fluff my feathers just the tiniest little bit at how far I've come, while at the same time remaining humble and grateful for what I have.

And I will accept love from those who care to show it to me.

I was raised by a family of bluebirds. They are gone now but the joy they brought to this world remains unchanged and unparalleled.

I may be the last of my kind but my time here is hopefully far from done. And I have many smiles to bring out.

Like the bluebird, I will try to make others happy, even if it is from far, far away.

The animal kingdom extends farther than the eye can see.

We are all capable of great and beautiful things before we fly away.

Thanks for reading,


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