Hello again, Dear Readers!
In an effort to combat high anxiety levels and the general gravity of these days, I decided to write something a little different for this week’s blog post. I wanted to do something imaginative, whimsical, and fun.
Inspired by both the characters inhabiting our yard, as well as the words of this hymn:
All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all.
– “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, by Cecil Frances and Martin Shaw as printed in The United Methodist Hymnal: Book of United Methodist Worship
I present to you the following short tales. It’s up to you, Dear Readers, to discern fact from fiction.
Freddy Finch’s Red Feathers
Freddy, although resembling the cedar hedges’ sparrows, is, in fact, not a sparrow. Sure, he wears a brown cap and coat—just like some of the sparrows do—but Freddy’s face and chest are a brilliant shade of red-orange.
The sparrows are acutely aware of these differences and sing unpleasant tunes both about and to Freddy. Some of these remarks are so hurtful, that Freddy’s face turns scarlet.
“Don’t listen to ‘em,” Freddy’s best friend, Henrietta, often tells him. “They’re sparrows. They’re a dime a dozen. You, Freddy, are unique.”
“I don’t want to be ‘unique’!” Freddy chirps, before flying away.
“Where are you going?!” Henrietta calls after him.
Freddy doesn’t answer.
He flies to the nearest telephone pole, clears his throat, and begins to sing. The tune is certainly a long one, but is full of loneliness.
Freddy’s song ceases as he turns his attention to the newcomer. She is much larger than any bird that he has ever met, but also more beautiful. Her feathers are a mixture of taupe and creamy white. He counts the black spots on her wings.
“I’ve never heard a House Finch singing such a sad song,” she coos.
“I’m not a House Finch!” Freddy protests, “I’m a sparrow!”
The newcomer smiles. “Red-heads. They have such tempers!”
The newcomer’s eyes darken with sadness. “Listen, my boy. We are each what we are. I am a mourning dove, which means my songs always sound as though my heart has been newly broken, as if I am calling out to some lost, loved one.”
Freddy sighed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that you were the one singing every dusk and dawn.”
The dove’s long tail feathers ruffled in the breeze. “Don’t be sorry. It’s okay. Although my song is sad, it serves a purpose. I am a reminder of this truth, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’.”
“Yeah,” Freddy murmured. “But…what can a House Finch do? What’s my purpose?”
“You have the ability to sing louder and longer songs than many other birds—longer, even, than a sparrow can.”
Freddy felt his beak opening in a smile. She was right! This mourning dove was right! He could sing—longer and louder than all of the sparrows that regularly dined at the Pool Hole!
“Thank you!” He gushed before breaking into a happier song.
A Bunny’s Thoughts
Having built her den beneath an outcropping of dirt and tall grass (not far from the Pool Hole), Mama Bunny is now only allotted short periods of time to eat. To shorten the length of these foraging expeditions, she runs. She is a blur of fawn-brown, racing around the perimeter of the dogs’ fence.
Sometimes, though, the hounds spot her. They think that it’s a game and begin to howl and growl. They chase after her, and Mama Bunny must run to the yard next door. It’s the nearest haven—and it’s green! So deliciously green!
“Did you see the beautiful seeds that Stephen brought to me this morning?” A sparrow, perched in the arms of a Norwegian maple asked.
Mama Bunny continued to nibble on tender clover, ignoring the nearby sparrows. Besides, the dogs were still barking and sniffing around the fence-line; she had other things to think about. She would have to wait to return to the den.
“Yeah, well, last week Samuel brought me an oak bud. It was delightful!”
Mama Bunny’s ears twitched.
“How are your hatch-lings?” a third sparrow, new to the conversation, asked.
The two sparrows giggled before finishing each other’s sentence. “He’s keeping them warm!”
Mama Bunny stopped eating. What? She thought. Sparrow-men feed their mates and keep their hatch-lings warm?
The dogs had grown quiet.
Is it safe to travel? Mama Bunny mused. She sniffed; her ears twitched.
Finally! Mama Bunny cheered. They’ve gone inside!
Taking a few short hops away from the chatty sparrows, Mama Bunny paused to reflect upon the birds’ conversation. If all of that Sparrow-talk is true, she thought, Barry Bunny should be ashamed of himself! Food delivery? Shifts baby-sitting?
Mama Bunny felt her temperature rise. The last time she had been this angry, years ago now, there had been a fox sniffing around her den. Frightened for both herself and her kit, she did what her rabbit instincts told her to do—spare her babies from the teeth of a predator and kill them quickly herself.
Mama Bunny shuddered; it was an awful memory.
She took three, deep, calming breaths, running home as fast as she could.
The babes, apparently untroubled by the hounds’ baying, were sleeping peacefully. The rhythm of their calm breathing seeped into Mama Bunny’s veins.
Maybe I don’t have a helpful mate, she thought, and maybe I’m not proud of my past, but I do have these little loves.
“I’m not afraid of Robin Curmudgeon!” Gavin the Grackle boasted. His feathers were glowing blue-green in the sunshine.
Georgia and Gracie, also grackles, looked at each other.
“I’m afraid of him,” Gracie confessed, “He’s always so fowl-tempered–”
“And fearless!” Georgia added.
“Oh, please,” Gavin mocked them, flapping his great, black wings. “So he looks exasperated all the time. Big deal.”
“It’s not just his facial expression,” the ladies said. “The Grapevine has it that those white feathers on his chest, are from grappling with King Greyson.”
Gavin screeched, indignant. “No one messes with King Greyson and lives to tell the tale! You’re making Curmudgeon sound like some sort of folk-hero. A legend. He’s just a tubby robin! I’d like to see him out-fly me.”
Georgia nudged Gracie with the tip of her wing, dark beak pointing across the Pool Hole.
“He’s here?!” Gracie clucked.
Georgia’s beak opened in a wide smile, “oh, Gavin. Would you like to test your wing-speed right now?”
“I don’t need to test it,” Gavin said, “I know that I’m the fastest bird in this yard.”
“Well, maybe you should ask Robin Curmudgeon about that.” Georgia suggested. “He’s right over there—perched on top of the patio pavers.”
“I’m not afraid of him,” Gavin said, before swooping down at the old robin.
The ladies watched as Gavin nearly collided with Curmudgeon. They held their breath, as Curmudgeon took flight.
“Help!” Gavin screeched. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”
If Robin Curmudgeon heard Gavin’s apology, he ignored it. The robin mercilessly pursued the young grackle into the cedar hedge and beyond.
“Whoa,” Gracie marveled. “That was intense.
“It’s like my Mama always said,” Georgia added, “‘When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.’”
“Where did she learn that?”
“From the Bible.”
“She could read?!” Gracie asked, her golden eyes growing wide.
“Gosh, no!” Georgia shrieked with laughter, “she liked to hang out at a church camp and listen to the services.”
Sneaky Pete’s Twilight Trek
It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is.
He doesn’t care if it’s cloudy or cold.
Nor does it matter to Sneaky Pete if the traffic is loud and busy.
He has a twilight trek to take.
The trek starts near the old barn, skirts the edge of a garden and then meanders into a neglected field.
Sneaky Pete slinks through the tall grasses of the field, sure to be quiet in case a snack appears.
He pauses in the middle of the field, admiring the sunset on cloudless days. The sky shifts from robin’s egg blue, to lavender to magenta, to gray, and, then, finally to onyx. The shadows, moving as silently as he does, soon engulf him. His dark tiger stripes become one with the night.
Stars as small as pinpricks begin to shine.
Thank you, Dear Readers, for allowing me to share these vignettes with you. I hope they encouraged you to smile, or, even better—to laugh. Sending good thoughts, prayers, light and love your way.
With Love & Gratitude,
Bible verse appearing in “Freddy Finch’s Red Feathers” was Matthew 5:4. Bible verse appearing in “Robin Curmudgeon” was Proverbs 11:2. Both were from the New International Version of the Holy Bible.