Anne Horrigan Geary: Farewell, my feathered friends

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Harry Chapin sings: "All my life's a circle, sunrise and sundown ... Season's spinning round again, the years keep rollin' by ..." Then there's "The Circle of Life" from "The Lion King." Any way you sing it, we're going round and round like a carousel.

For the last six months, our collective carousel has been spinning crazily, nearly out of control. The creepy virus called corona and its octopus-like tentacles has infected every corner of life as we knew it. Some of us have been hanging on by our fingertips as the dizzying spin intensifies. It is in this time of greatest duress, that we are drawn to, and appreciate, the small wonders we often overlook.

For me, those wonders are right in my backyard, the only place I have been safely able to visit these past months. They have become my companions, friends, and playmates. I have fed and watered them, and given them shelter. In return, they have made me smile, and deepened my appreciation for the natural world. Birds. Yes, birds, who are so little, give so much. They awaken us before sunrise with their trills and chirps. Not an evil "tweet" among them!

I can even recognize a few birds by their songs as I lie in my tangled sheets, unwilling to open my eyes and begin another anxiety-filled day. Their gentle voices tease me to shed my sleepiness and put my feet on the cold floor of reality once again. Once I have my cup of coffee in hand, I can look out the kitchen window to see who is the first visitor of the day. Then, I walk out to the pergola and begin my daily conversations with the little creatures who are already breakfasting in the crabapple tree. Of course, I talk to them. It would be rude to ignore their cheery greetings.

By the time I have finished my drink, and filled my lungs with the softly-scented, fresh Berkshire air, I am ready to meet the unknown challenges of another virus-centered day. All I can do is plod along, one timid step at a time, until I have chased the glowing ball of the sun into the western hills. It is then that I return to my favorite chair under the grapevine-covered pergola to bid good night to all my feathered friends.

My friends are beginning to desert me now that the sun is setting earlier and there is a crispness to the morning air. The hummingbirds are in a feeding frenzy, fueling up for their long voyage south. We fill the feeders almost every day. The fledgling robins and grosbeaks have grown up before our eyes, and are much more confident in their flying and feeding. Each day there are fewer birds in the crabapple tree as the birds' inner compass urges them on to warmer climates.

I don't begrudge them the journey to greener pastures and meadows. I owe them a huge debt of gratitude for the pleasure they have given me in these darkest days. I only wish I could fly away with them to a sunny, beautiful, virus-free destination; but I can't because one doesn't exist yet.

I will miss them more than usual this fall, when the leafless landscape will look even more sad and lonely. I do have a good supply of photos taken of them: hummingbirds hanging at the feeder, bluejays in the birdbath, a treeful of grackles. I might make a little slideshow for the computer, to watch when the snowdrifts reign supreme in the yard. When the world spins again to give us springtime and the first shrubs bloom, I will be sitting at the window waiting to welcome my feathered friends.

Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.

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