02 April 2011

Bird Feed

The feeder sits outside the window, and to my chagrin, I neglected to fill it up over most of the winter.  No felony, this oversight, not even a misdemeanor.  It is, after all, just a bird feeder.  What troubles me most is that I did not fill it up during a period when the beneficiaries of such largesse (i.e. the birds) needed it most.

Birds have high-speed metabolisms, and they need all the calories they can get when there is snow on the ground and chill in the air.  I often looked out the window, at the empty feeder swaying in the breeze, and then promptly forgot about it.  One afternoon, I looked up from my computer to see a lone chickadee perched on the side of the feeder.  It was fluttering its wings and pecking frantically, forlornly, at the remnants of the last batch of seed from months back.

I suffered a spasm of guilt.

Two weekends ago, the Wee Lass and I made a trip to a nearby shop that specializes in all things bird-feeding and -watching related.  They sell all sorts of feeders, bird baths, perches, bird guides and a plethora of seed mixes.  I've taken to buying from them, as the feed they sell seems particularly popular with the birds that frequent my yard.  Wee Lass and I selected our twenty pound bag of the "Purple" mix, and headed home whereupon I immediately filled up the feeder.  It wasn't long before the neighborhood avian types found out it was full.  They have been chowing down at a breathtaking rate ever since.

Tonight I filled up the feeder again, Wee Lass wanted to see some birds, and so did I.  As I was pouring in the feed, the feeder suddenly felt in my hands as a stand-in for certain aspects of my life.  The pattering hiss of seeds was a bell going off in my mind, a call to prayer, and I made as if to turn my face to the temple.

Winter did this to me.  My heart has been empty far too often in recent months, swinging empty at the end of a chain while hanging in the cold gray light.  The only evidence of past savor a few shreds of memory disintegrating and frozen fast to the dirty glass surrounding the void.  My mind has become that desperate, frazzled bird clinging for dear life to a cold metal loop and pecking again and again at the places where once it had found food and vitality and life...only to glean a crumb or two, and flutter off confused and achingly hungry.  My heart, that chickadee, carrying the memory of love.

I finished filling up the feeder, came back to earth, and closed the window.  I paused briefly, not wanting to let my darling daughter see the look on my face.  There would have been no way to explain it, and as our weekend together had just started, I had no wish to rain on the parade.  I took a deep breath and composed a smile.  Turning around, I told her to keep an eye out for some birds.  Minutes later, a mini-flock of about five started shuttling back and forth from the wild rose bush by the fence to the feeder.  Wee Lass exclaimed "There's a girl cardinal!", and seemed pleased we had visitors.

I was preparing dinner, listening to her chatter, and watching the birds when I could.  The little chickadee in my head chirped again, this time happy to have a full larder to feast upon.  The birds fluttered and whirred and something loosened up, a slipping of rusty bolts in an iron heart seized shut.

If only, if only...I made it through another winter, and I'm feeling hollow and thin.  The hunger I feel reaches deep, it comes from the bones and the blood and the heart.  I watched the birds, and chuckled.  My heart...it still has hope that this spring, this year, love opens it up and it can feed.


  1. A wonderful thing that you care at all. As the guy in front of me in traffic today tossed his still burning cigarette out his window, I wondered if there was any hope for humanity. I've got a hummingbird feeder off my back porch. We're doin' it, Gumbo, one little body at a time. Thanks for the post.

    The Cheeky Daddy

  2. the birds sounded so sweet...
    what they were really saying:

    "it's about damn time"

    true for lots of things :)

    i could so hug you right now.

  3. Winter is an excellent reminder, and we've a well-earned spring just over THERE.

    I'm sorry to say that, in my own way, I, too, have been neglectful in forgetting how much I admire your turn of a phrase. I've added you to my blogroll so that I don't forget again.



  4. Keep the feeder filled and your heart will stay full.

  5. Here's to something special blooming for you this year.

  6. It has been a rough winter.
    A bird feeder... what a great idea. I have a friend who owns one of those bird feeder stores.
    Take care and enjoy your weekend.

  7. if only there were someone out there, making sure MY bird feeder was full. I am so busy sometimes filling them up for other people, I neglect my own.....

  8. "My heart...it still has hope that this spring, this year, love opens it up and it can feed." Wow. Just, wow.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...