“Hope” is the thing with feathers —
That perches in the soul —
And sings the tune without the words —
And never stops — at all — Emily Dickinson
Last year I posted this blog about the birds that live in our bushes at the front of our house, immediately below our bedroom window. They have made those bushes their home for the entire time we have owned this house. These chickadees’ early morning chirping has always been part of my daily awakening.
Until it wasn’t.
It has taken me nearly two months to realize that there has been no chirping this year coming from those bushes. Nary a peep. A total Silence of the Chirps.
And I know why. This past May, we came back from Arizona only to find that the bushes that are in front of our house were totally dried up. Upon further observation, all bushes of that particular type around the neighborhood struggled throughout the past winter. Bill studied up on it a bit and found out that allegedly the relatively dry fall and winter negatively impacted those particular bushes. I can’t quite figure that out, because heaven knows this past winter hasn’t been the only winter with little snow. And yet I don’t remember the bushes ever drying up like this.
The bushes were entirely leafless when we got here. Gradually, they are growing leaves. But like a mangy mutt, the leaves aren’t coming in in any kind of order. They start growing here and there, seemingly without reason. The ironic part is that, though the bushes are in terrible shape, we actually should clip them because they are getting scruffy on top. Bill keeps threatening to cut them down to a few feet high to let them start over. It’s not a particularly bad idea. It works on my house plants. But he’s been too busy installing dishwashers and painting kitchen walls to worry about that right now.
If you read last year’s post, I spoke about how the chickadees who live in my front yard didn’t visit the bird feeder that I have in my back yard. It was like the house was some sort of bird barrier. The feeder, therefore, provided food for the house finches that live in our back yard in some unknown nesting area and the more tenacious squirrels. The squirrels mostly feed on the seeds that the finches drop. Every spring when I first put the feeder out, I will catch one squirrel making his way up the pole to dine. That’s my call to bring out my spray vegetable oil and give the pole a spray coat.
This year, however, the bird feeder has been providing seeds for all kinds of birds. In fact, the chickadees (given their dire housing situation) and the finches have sworn a truce and dine together. Sort of like enemies in battle coming together at Christmastime.
And once again this year we have been visited on a few occasions by goldfinches – both a bright and beautiful male and his much drabber mate. I know, I know. God did that so that the female birds stay safe so that they can keep reproducing. Still, it never quite seems fair that only Mister Goldfinch should be so beautiful.
The absence of the chirping chickadees has allowed me to sleep in every morning to a lazy 5:30 a.m!