I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday bird blogging

A house sparrow by Loch Lomond.  Thousands of miles away, and the birds in the hedge outside my room were the same as the birds in the trees outside my bedroom in New York.

At least in the British Isles they're regarded merely as common; here, they're considered imported interlopers that barely qualify as birds. I have always had a ridiculous fondness for them (one of many reasons why I will never be a serious birdwatcher) since they are part of the reason I became interested in birds at all.

Six years ago, I was juggling a hugely stressful job with being a long-distance caretaker for my elderly mother in San Francisco when I began to have my own health issues: ulcers, severe anemia, migraines. After I had fainted one time too many in the office, my going out on disability started to seem like a very good idea to everyone in the vicinity, and I abruptly found myself at home, ill and alone.

You don't realize how much the structure of a job keeps you going until it isn't there anymore. I was really sick; I definitely needed to take some time and get better, but sometimes I felt as though there was nothing to hold me together and I was going to melt away like the witch in The Wizard of Oz.

I read, I watched tv, I did the crossword puzzle in the Times every day, I went to doctor after doctor for test upon test. I spent days barely able to get out of bed, and lying there, looking out the window, I started to notice the birds.

Mostly little brown birds that the guidebook I ordered informed me were house sparrows, but also starlings and crows and mourning doves and blue jays. One morning I watched a crow eating a pigeon on a nearby roof, while a pair of blue jays were flirting angrily on my fire escape: life in a microcosm, it felt like.

Mostly the sparrows kept me entertained. They hopped around the trees, yacking excitedly, yanking out the young leaves, reminding me of teenagers having a party while the parents were away. And at the same time they're somehow so alien. When you watch birds closely they seem far closer to reptiles than to mammals, and sometimes they barely seem terran. They are so strange and so beautiful, all around us, but nothing like us. And yet, I often think they saved me during that awful spring because they were so alive and that life was something to hold onto.


Tandava (Carol Henning) said...

That is one cute fluffy bird!! I had always wondered what got you into bird watching.

Unknown said...

Kathleen, my name is Joy Phelps and I live in Cape Town South Africa. I just want to say that God thinks that every little sparrow is important and how much more does He think we human beings are. I do hope you are better by now in 2016.
I'm sitting at the side of Loch Lomond and enjoying all of God's beautiful creation.
God's blessings to you!

Kathleen said...

Joy, thank you for your kind comments. I am much better now, and grateful for every day. Loch Lomond is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been -- it does make you grateful for the beautiful creation all around us.

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