The house is warm and toasty, the sunlight is coming in through window and adding to that glorious warmth. I close my eyes and point my face to the sun, trying to drink the sunshine in through osmosis. I am curled in my chair in front of my picture window, the house around me in silence other than the ticking of the clock, and the hum of the furnace. It is in other words peaceful bliss, especially after all of the beautiful noise that I have been enveloped in over the last few weeks. In my hand is a hot cup of gingerbread coffee, life could not get too much better... and then it does. Out of the corner of my eye I see a flutter. There in the tree is the most adorable little charcoal grey and white bird. Four of them could easily fit in my outstretched hand. One tiny bird, turns into 15 tiny little birds all over my front lawn.
I am taking great pleasure in watching these tiny little Dark Eyed Juncos. I know that is what they are called because I looked it up. They are "common snowbirds" from the sparrow family. Before I regularly fed the birds I did not know this. It has become a part of my morning routine. I toss out a few cups full of niger seed, from the warmth of the front door. Each cup full, I smile a little thinking that I am doing my part. It sounds, crazy, and it probably is, but I am a simple woman of simple pleasures.
The freezing rain and these now frigid temperatures have made me less indifferent than I was in years past. When I say "indifferent" I feel like I need to qualify that. I mean "indifferent" in the truest meaning of the word. I never gave feeding the birds a second thought. I cannot bear to see anything suffer. I have spent countless hours rescuing turtles, always fearful that in my zeal, I get my finger snapped off by a snapping turtle. When I saw the little birds eating the "reindeer food"(the kids and I make reindeer food every Christmas Eve day out of oatmeal, birdseed, sugar sprinkles and sparkles), it occurred to me that with everything encased in ice, these poor little creatures must be starving!
Last week I purchased a bird feeder, and a big bag of niger seed. Elly was really excited to help fill it. We made Christopher freeze while we watched him hang the feeder in our big birch tree, we watched from the warmth of the picture window. Elly stood at the window, face pressed up against the glass, waiting for our first lunch guest. The feast swung from the branch, unattended (as did my suet feeders). Sunday morning Elly let out a high pitched squeal "There are birdies at our feeder, there are birdies at the feeder!" She was beside herself with excited joy. Sure enough a little Chickadee was sitting on the perch of the feeder. To my delight, that little Chickadee had brought a brunch guest with him, who was dining at my suet feeder!
Never had I imagined that feeding the birds could provide so much enjoyment. I have to admit that when I look out at the birdseed all over my front lawn (I still throw the seed on the grass every morning because Junco's are ground feeders), I cringe a little. I know that what is disguised in the snow will become piles of fermenting seed on the new grass. It will take some serious clean up come the spring, but right now I am doing my part to provide for those less fortunate, even if they are from the animal kingdom.
I have a tender heart. That tender heart can lead to embarrassment, but that's o.k. I would like to think that my children are learning compassion at my knee. There are worse things in this world than to want to end another's suffering, even if that other is not human. I feel better for trying to make a difference, and in return I get the joy of watching the birds, it's a win win.