I had fallen asleep last evening, the Christmas lights a tranquil rainbow. A soft glow lit the room as I awoke, reliving the best football game ever. A marrow-chilling and flush victory-
But, a win is a win ,and we rejoiced. We roared and then silenced as Holmgren took a final lap around Qwest Field. It would be his last home game after ten seasons coaching for Seattle. As I watched him stride with a purpose and humility he has never betrayed, waving and thanking the 12th Man, I felt a keen knot of loss in my throat. The lot of us stood as one to bid him farewell. All 60,000 of us. We waved. We whistled. We wished him all the best.
He was the best. Our churlish coach. The best the Seahawks had ever seen.
And at that moment we all loved him. A snow game tribute to the man for all seasons.
Remembering how yesterday played out, the game, the snow, the finality and trying my best to wake up, my Peeky Moose was purring me on. Time for somebody’s breakfast.
I slinked out of bed to the kitchen, cat on my heels. Time for somebody else’s coffee.
The snow provided a perfect backdrop for reflection. Of all seasons past. My life has been so charmed, so filled with intent and purpose, so real, even I can scarce believe it. Most of it I cannot recall. Times it seems to have happened to another. Were it not for photos and the seeming ersatz recall of friends, I might believe it to be so.
Yet, for it all, I am alone.
Something amiss in my makeup creates of me an endless Snow Queen.
I’ve my cat for company and the tight forced smiles I allow for others do naught
to chill this stern heart.
In my judgment lies my own isolation.
It is in this very isolation I mean to find redemption.
A thump clears my mind of this morbid reverie.
As I open the slider, a flutter of movement catches my eye.
Without thinking, I scoop this fragile creature up and hold her close. Her right eye is clamped shut, her left filled with a fierce pride. Her wings are folded against her body. She makes no attempt to struggle free. Her right claw is curled shut.
Hurriedly, I empty a box of Emergen-c and place her and the swaddling inside.
I cannot get over how small she is!
Her feeble fluttering calms and I think she will die.
Only my selfishness.
Maybe I can save her life.
Will that become the redemption I seek?
I soak a swab with water to see if she will take some in her perfect little beak. Ideal for cracking the black seeds from the feeder. She refuses it, but does not shy away.
How terrified must she be?
Does she know I am a benevolent god?
I take a clean swab and gently dab at her eye. She blinks that right eye and rallies at this.
Ladies and gentlemen, weighing in at 5 grams. Rocky!
She has vitae.
What is life’s fruit exactly?
What is the fruit of life?
What has been the fruit of my life? I have borne no fruit of my own loins. Only sorrow. No kith or kindred do I call my own, nor dare to beg.
My own fruit would be bitter, I know. Sour.
Not sweet and juicy or slightly tangy.
An hour goes by tending; watching each other.
Suddenly Rocky flutters. Seems she has other plans. Staring straight at me from her good left eye, she takes wing!
And crashes into the bed frame!
I reach up to cradle and soothe her with voice and warmth.
She does not peck or peep, only tilts her tiny head to the right as if to say,
“Let’s try that again, one more time, shall we?”
I’m thinking hard that birds gotta fly.
That’s her job…her life. Her destiny.
To be a wee bird at my feeder among the Queen Anne greenbelt.
Rocky’s gotta go.
And I gotta let her.
Again, I am crying now for this one spare ounce of feathers I have known for all of
what, two hours ? A lifetime?
Time and size are of no matter. Distance, only another dimension.
Hesitantly, I take Rocky outside. It is a cold winter day. I want to feed her, keep her safe, watch her fly and be warm. But I can’t do this, so I say a prayer to the All Who Can do these things and ask for the safe healing of this one little bird.
Outwardly I know she is the same as all other living things; that she matters little to the Universal laws of nature. Maybe I matter less.
But, please, not this time. Spare her. Save her.
I place her on the feeder and she stumbles a little. Stunned. Cold. Injured. She grabs on with her one good leg and flexes her other leg a bit. That warms me. A good sign. She blinks her good eye and does not move to fly off. I back inside and sit down to watch her though the glass wondering if she will become cat food or hawk bait. I notice the clump of feathers stuck to the window where she hit. I have decide I will not wash them off.
Sipping coffee, I sit down and watch Rocky.
against all that is glorious and good and right with this fucked up world.
I am NOT a god. I have not the power to save one little bird.
I have not the grace to determine who lives or who dies.
At best, I am human.
Frail and foible and weak.
My blind eyes, grasping claws beholden to someone else’s “ism”.
I WOULD NOT CHOOSE THIS OVER DEATH!
I look at the feeder again and Rocky is gone!
Rolling open the slider I expect to see her fallen.
I have no faith NO FAITH in the universe. But I want to…seem to…need to…
She is gone!
I close the slider and come back inside and sit down, heavily.
I miss Rocky already.
I miss my mother.
Miss the mother I never became.
The sensitivity of ancestral mother.
A wounded child never fully heals… there is much scarring.
I cannot/willnot let you in because I cannot/willnot let myself out.
For all my weight and knowledge and presence and being,
that little finch was more true and more real than I ever have been or ever will be.
I connect to the net and start to research carpodacus. My focus shifts away from the window and onto our winged ones. I am engrossed in their world.
As the sky lightens and I am humbled into awareness, something is happening.
There is a bird at the feeder.
There are two.
A purple male finch …and…it... can’t... be!
I peer through the binoculars. I can see her swollen right eye and lame claw.
She has returned to feed and brought her mate! I am filled with a motherly joy I have never had. I cannot explain this feeling of wonderment and place. As I watch Rocky and her mate, something curious happens. Several Oregon juncos come to the rail and dine on all the crumbs spread on the porch. A virtual avian smorgasbord. A few moments later, half a dozen bushtits are glommed onto the peanut butter I’ve spread on the suet feeder. They are not rare, but I’ve never seen them here before. More finches arrive to dine on the black seeds. Black-capped and Boreal chickadees politely wait for a spot, like so many well mannered patrons at a five- star restaurant. The porch clears and two Stellar jays in their adolescent boldness swagger in for a bite. They leave as quickly. I am about to get my camera when a fully grown male northern flicker is swinging to and fro, larger than the feeder itself, feasting on the suet. I take several pictures. He is so colorful with his scarlet cheeks and proud fan of tail feathers. His is a perfect polka dot vest. He flies off to his next engagement, feeder still dangling.
My vision is drawn to the trees behind.
A clean black outline.
I am honored by Raven’s presence.
Not crow. Raven.
He has not visited me here before, my friend from Northern climes.
The Alaskan Natives, Tlingit, Aleut, Inupiaq, Athapaskan and Yu’pik all believe Raven created the world. They believe many things about Raven. I call to him and he answers.
Noisy crows are alerted as well. Raven swoops silent. Away.
In the course of the afternoon I am treated to a whirlwind befitting royalty.
How has word gotten out so quickly? It is a grand opening. Of the heart.
They come and they go. Some return. Again and again. Sing a song. Eat a bite
That is the way of birds.
Redpolls. Swainson’s thrushes. One ravenous downy woodpecker. Sparrows.
And of course, the finches. They sing and dine all afternoon.
I am crying again now, face buried in the soft fur of cat. He has behaved himself so well today, a perfect gentleman for all our featheriness, that tonight he shall dine on tuna.
I have passed some one test, today.
Will the results come in as airmail I wonder?
The sun comes out to diamond and dazzle this rare snow.
As it goldens to west, Rocky sits in the feeder.
She is just sitting.
My sense of home has begun.