I don’t know why such a simple thing like feeding the birds should make me feel so out-of-step with the rest of the world.
It’s something I often feel.
But bird feeding?
It’s that our world has become obsessed with being special, I think.
Nothing ordinary is tolerated any more.
Everyone has a specialty.
Or is supposed to.
It’s no wonder so many people seem lost. They are searching for their wonder. Their fulfillment.
Unfortunately I find this with people who are fascinated with birds, too.
You can’t just be content to look at the birds before you. No, you must invest money in telescopes that would take a teacher to show you how to use it.
Or save up your money so you can take a canoe down the Amazon to see the only Red-and-Purple-Crested Fillabub that exists on the planet.
That is what I am to inspire to.
Bird watching perfection.
So when I feel delighted to sit and watch squirrels hop about the scrawny greens in the backyard, I feel somewhat guilty.
I’m not trying hard enough.
It’s taken me a while to put words to what I want.
If I could have anything I wanted, I would install some sort of system of ground-level feeders and baths. Like swimming pools.
But lacking that ability, I find that I like the concept of ground feeding.
When I looked up such a term on the internet I was surprised to find so many places that actually sell ground bird feeders.
Even Amazon sells some.
It’s taken me even longer to realize that what I like the looks of is terracotta.
The material plant pots are made of.
That smiling tanish color.
Looking that up, I’ve found suggestions on how to use plant saucers for bird baths.
And all sorts of fancy ways to put plant pots together to make feeders and such.
But it’s the idea of fancy that I really object to.
Except, every once in a while, when I see a little multicolored glass dish for the birds. Then I smile.
It is what I am seeing as I do what little I let myself do in strewing the feed around the yard that is teaching me.
As time goes by and the animals out back get used to the set up (or un-set up) they are learning how to feed together.
At first, if there was a squirrel in the yard and a Blue Jay wanted to get something, he would sit on the fence and scream until the squirrel got the message.
Now, because I am strewing more and more of the yard, squirrels eat here.
And Jays there.
Sometimes they are alongside each other.
Time has become something real for them all, also.
At first, all would listen for the door to open and close again, and then they would attack.
Anything in their path.
Now the Mourning Doves slip in in the afternoon. And take their time strolling about.
Crows, who once insisted on being first every morning, now swoop in on their way from here to there.
I love it when I look out and a little group of tiny birds, smaller even than the sparrows, are slipping around the end of the fence and gathering under the leaves of the tree that begins in the next yard but droops over the fence to give us our own little make-shift tree.
No day is the same any more.
Everyone is getting very relaxed about my plain efforts.
Every day is like watching an Easter egg hunt, with beaks and noses sniffing and hoping.
Today, a pair of Robins, clearly not the sharpest-eyed birds on the block, went about looking for corn kernels that others pass by for the peanuts, shelled or un.
They watched each other’s progress, and when one was finished, he waited patiently on the fence for his mate to get her fill.
Our world isn’t just obsessed with the spectacular, it also wants control.
It was the other day that I realized my favorite thing about the backyard feeder: there is no remote control for it.
It is what it is.
And there’s nothing I can do to arrange it the way I may want it to be.
Just watching the squirrels figure out how to get down the trees without running over the one in front of him has become my kind of spectacular.