Pulling Weeds Volume 1

Birdsong, Windsong, Rock Bottom Farm

A family of chickadees calling back and forth in the firs brings to mind my parents’ penchant for feeding the birds, and my own history.

It is a steamy August afternoon. Even so, one element in a monochromatic winter scene becomes as vivid as the cadmium yellow gloriosa daisies in the overgrown herb garden where I am weeding.

I pull cloud grass from around the daisy seedlings that will bring next year’s flowers. Instead of a fist full of weeds, I suddenly see the cup of my own hand full of sunflower seeds. My arm is outstretched from a body as still as a stump. My fingers are curved into a bright pink bowl. Along with this image comes the recognition that this is something my father taught me to do, though I don’t remember him ever doing it himself.

I am hand feeding the chickadees.

In this summer garden I become again a child standing on the snow-covered arc of stone wall by the back door at our family home called Windsong. The four trunked birch tree is on my left, the same side as the sunrise. Chickadees are flitting from the twigs above my head, calling to one another. Then, with the magic of memory, decades pass and I am here at Rock Bottom Farm in Maine. I am fifty, standing in my own yard not far from where I’m weeding. Three birches are on my right, the side where the sun sets. From the distance comes the sound, chick-dee-dee. I continue to slide into this reverie where everything is connected.

Tentatively a gang of birds moves closer to investigate. I think of it as a cheerful mob. After several nervous passes, one bird overcomes its fear. Its wings nearly brush my head as it comes in to land. At the last minute it beats wind furiously and in a flash of reluctance, returns to a nearby twig.

I know from experience that if I wait long enough, it will return. All that is required is patience and alertness. I remember this, and the chickadees oblige. One by one they drop from the branches and land on the pad of my bright pink palm.

In time the birds become choosy. They begin to shuffle through the seeds, testing for plumpness. They carry away only the choicest ones, those full morsels that will sustain them through the hungry days ahead.

© 2010 Jennifer M. Pierce, All Rights Reserved

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