When it cooled off slightly in late afternoon, I went out to the garden to water plants because it’s been SO HOT and everything is parched. We haven’t had rain in a long, long time.
I heard chirpy calls that sounded a bit distressful. How could I tell? I like to think that I can communicate with animals–whether or not that’s true, it does make me listen to them, and I feel that I can distinguish one sound from another, sort of like when you know why your baby is crying, whether it’s hungry or tired or frustrated…
At that precise moment that I heard those chirps, I was walking on my stone pathway and I looked down. There, camouflaged on a rock, I spied a tiny bird. If I hadn’t paid attention, I would have stepped on him/her!
I ran back on the deck to grab my phone, and he had hopped up on an exposed tree root.
I began to have a chat with this darling creature who appeared to be lost and a bit scared. I can understand why, because he’s definitely NOT supposed to be sitting on a gray rock exposed to all sorts of danger.
I brought over a small pan of fresh water and watched him hop around a little and flex his wings, so I surmised he had fallen out of a nest and wasn’t actually injured.
Again I became aware of lots of birds circling the area, yellow chirpy finches calling out to this little guy, so I knew it was a Lesser Goldfinch fledgling, a common bird in Southern California and one I often am lucky enough to see around here.
From the tree root he hopped onto a hanging succulent and finally made it all the way into a basin shaped planter on top of the tree stump. With his family encouraging him to join them and fly to safety, I thought it was best to give them all space and went in the house.
Later, just before dark, I checked and he was gone. As soon as I woke up this morning, I checked again and there’s no sign of him.
Fingers crossed, I’m hopeful that this was another happy ending at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.
I discovered a lovely poem by Mary Oliver:
In the fields we let them have- in the fields we don’t want yet-
where thistles rise out of the marshlands of spring, and spring open- each bud a settlement of riches-
a coin of reddish fire- the finches wait for midsummer, for the long days,
for the brass heat, for the seeds to begin to form in the hardening thistles, dazzling as the teeth of mice, but black,
filling the face of every flower. Then they drop from the sky. A buttery gold, they swing on the thistles, they gather
the silvery down, they carry it in their finchy beaks to the edges of the fields, to the trees,
as though their minds were on fire with the flower of one perfect idea- and there they build their nests and lay their pale-blue eggs,
every year, and every year the hatchlings wake in the swaying branches, in the silver baskets,
and love the world. Is it necessary to say any more? Have you heard them singing in the wind, above the final fields? Have you ever been so happy in your life?
It seems to me that we’re all still worried about this and that and everything else; I was grateful to see Mary Oliver pop up at the right time to share her wisdom–as always.
Don’t worry though, I still won’t sing–nobody wants to hear THAT, so I’ll leave it to the birds.
I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers flow in the right direction, will the earth turn as it was taught, and if not how shall I correct it? Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven, can I do better? Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows can do it and I am, well, hopeless. Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it, am I going to get rheumatism, lockjaw, dementia? Finally, I saw that worrying had come to nothing. And gave it up. And took my old body and went out into the morning, and sang.
When I can’t seem to locate my own words to express how I feel, I turn to Mary Oliver. She speaks for me, to me, through me.
Sleeping in the Forest
I thought the earth remembered me, she took me back so tenderly, arranging her dark skirts, her pockets full of lichens and seeds. I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed, nothing between me and the white fire of the stars but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths among the branches of the perfect trees. All night I heard the small kingdoms breathing around me, the insects, and the birds who do their work in the darkness. All night I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling with a luminous doom. By morning I had vanished at least a dozen times into something better.–Mary Oliver