m wood pen

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I am not a bird snob.

Leaving the countryside this winter found me in a rush to get the boxes packed, the truck filled, the truck unfilled, the boxes emptied, the stuff set up, the apartment filled and christened as my new home. The larger life of the last three decades has been simmered down to only the rue, the essence of those dizzying years of building and acquiring. Children, a business, a career, furniture, hobbies, dishes, colanders (did I really NEED three?), dogs, cats, framed photos, Turkish rugs, beds, throw pillows, coats, kitchen tools, linen, dish towels, serving spoons, serving platters, side dishes, tiny dishes, too many dishes.

A summery sunny spring Saturday compelled me to trek out to the wee little garden patch that awaits my magic wand. Distilling the outdoor life of five acres on the fringe of thousands of acres of nature preserve to my new pastoral heaven, an L-shaped city terrace (similar square footage of my wrap-around deck back at ‘the house’) is something that I’ve really looked forward to.

Smaller is do-able, and the task of creating a series of tableaux just outside my french door thrills me. With the weather still erratic, I won’t dare to heave plants and flowering treasures back from the nursery, but I can make the first moves towards meeting my new neighbors.

I’d heard chirping in the tall trees that jut out from the severe brick of this architecture. I’ve felt my heart leap when seeing the flutter of wings fly by my upstairs windows. With a deep freeze and paralyzing blizzard during my first week here, I worried sick about what tiny birds might be living in the stark and cold bushes that are just across the sidewalk from me. Granted, I did not worry about my birds back in the country, as I was paying my young friend to feed them until the new owners took over the house. Probably a ridiculous thing to do, but we’d really grown close, (the birds, not the friend) and I couldn’t bear to abandon my woodpeckers, bluejays, nuthatches, cardinals, barn swallows, robins, or any of the other myriad of songbirds and feathered friends that relied on ME to feed them from birdseed bar.

Warmer days and open windows give my cat and me a better look at who may want to be our friends. Noting signs in the alley informing us about ongoing rat poisoning, I will have to abandon my reckless chucking bits of vegs out my door for critters to nibble on. My feeding centers here are going to have to be stealthy! I set up a low birdfeeder that comes wrapped in a wire cage to keep out the squirrels: the only problem is that the birds can’t fit through to get to the seed part.

Not interested in delaying my welcome wagon, I tossed some seeds liberally in a few clay flower pots and beneath the feeder (you know, the one that they can’t get into) to just let them know, “I’m here. I’m here.” Throwing caution to the wind, I dropped a handful of trail-mix into a little spot after spying a rabbit hopping by. So far, the bunny has not indulged, but a mischievous squirrel has discovered the stash and claimed it as hers. Go for it.

There’s plenty of time for me to get acquainted with my new friends. As of this writing, most of the birds are brown, and of what group I have no clue. A soft cranberry-colored super skinny bird flew by the other day, but really, based on my previous brood, I may as well be on Mars. None of these look ‘familiar’ to me, which at first seemed to cause severe bouts of homesickness. But after a good long walk in the park, I came back to embrace the most obvious truth of all: I’ve moved. It’s all-new, it’s supposed to be a mystery! It’s all something to learn, to study and to eventually and hopefully, love and adore. And one day, if I play my cards right, who knows when, to miss deeply.

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