Here I go again, considering birds. At the top of the weeping birch a few doors down, a flock of purple martens chatter loudly, swaying in breeze-tossed branches. Suddenly the cluster lifts off; trained synchronized flyers, speeding north. I suspect they’re headed to the marten houses a few doors down, a unique collection resembling large hanging lightbulbs.
Some of my readers have asked about Ernie, our thirty-year old Amazon Green parrot. Our difficult decision to downsize him was perhaps premature, but our feathered friend seems happy with his new family. Becky always dreamed of owning a parrot and she cares for him so tenderly. We couldn’t have ordered a better home.
We have an arrangement with Becky. Ernie can come back anytime. He sits on my shoulder now as I write, clucking contentedly, preening my short hair. We’re enjoying his company while his new family takes holidays. He’s a very lucky parrot, gone out into the wider world, but free to return. A certified member of the yoyo generation.
Our daughter’s family have fowl of a different feather. “We have birds,” Amanda texted a while back. “Come and meet them.” At their place, I found four full-grown chickens roaming the large yard; relentlessly pursued by several deliriously happy, almost-grown kittens. Suddenly, abruptly switching from defense to offense, the white hen, Julie, (screaming like the proverbial fishwife) reversed course and aimed for the nearest cat. He leapt high, flipped mid-air and started scrambling before he hit the ground. I can’t recall a better laugh all summer.
The felines got the memo: don’t bug the big birds. They’ve come to an agreement since. The chickens stay in their enclosure and the cats leave them alone. No one chases, no one gets hurt.
While caring for their pets in the children’s absence recently, I learned those chickens have distinct personalities. One is sweet. One is shy. One is curious. And Liddell, the rooster, routinely rises cranky. I had to carry a pitchfork into the chicken coop to ward off his morning attacks. By bedtime, having calmed his inner curmudgeon, he accepted sunflower seeds from my hand.
Like the birds I love watching, each person is unique. We may soar some days, flutter and flop on others. We may be pleasant one hour, cranky the next. We may or may not be gorgeous. We may not produce anything much. We may give in to the temptation to stray. We may stand firm one day, but flee the next, and despise ourselves for it.
The Bible explains that as Creator of all, God knows and cares for each bird. How much more so, each of his children. He knows when we plummet and when we soar; when our personal demons, screaming recriminations, corner us.
He knows our wings; those broken, those clipped and those healed. He knows it all because he is with us and he is for us. An immediately present help when we need him most.
That’s every hour for me. At least. And you?