This Sunday Scribblings was a tough one, as I'm sort of homebound this week - thanks to my crappy body.
As I can not write about any people that I observe (and writing about Better Half becomes too mundane for some of my readers), I'll draw you into Bold's world.
The Autumn air has chilled, and the leaves prepare to slip their bonds. The sun dances through them, and the canopy of the tree becomes a stained glass church. It is here that Bold dwells, the summer and autumn of this, his first year, a true test of his stock.
Bold is a rugged thing, a burley thick-bodied American Tree Sparrow (Spizela arborea), masquerading among the Chipping sparrows. His red cap is eternally tussled, bits of feather sticking up at odd angles as he pecks frantically at the harvest seed in the hanging feeder. When I first laid eyes on him, earlier this year, I thought him perhaps sickly, as no healthy bird would run about with such a poorly preened coating. Yet he remained, steadfast against all odds, the mutant Tree-Chipping Sparrow skulking amidst his beautiful cousins. He never offered a humble chirp, but always chose to announce his presence with a rather throaty CHURP, accompanied by the strangest dancing displays. After closer observation, I believe he was either lost, or else the two different species mated to produce him. If 'o' is a typical Chipping sparrow, then Bold waddles in with 'O'... larger, rounder, louder, and much much bolder. He drives even the largest of Ravens from his territory.
For some weeks, I have lost track of our house wens, cardinals, and chipping sparrows. I have not heard the haunting cry of our mourning doves in quite a while. I have not been able to sit on my front porch to enjoy their community as it draws together each day in celebration of bountiful food and water. I have keep my eyes opened, hoping for some small sign that my freakish little bird was still about. Bold was my companion, and my inspiration to keep fighting, no matter how heavily stacked against me the odds are.
Yesterday graced us with a heavy downpour of rain. Better Half was about to start the mower, and I had patted my hair into place and had ventured outside to keep him company. The rains began almost immediately. I grabbed the container of seed, urging Better Half to at least get that feast set up for our friends, and then tore open the seed cake packets for the mesh feeders. A flash of lightening sent a few lurking Chipping sparrows racing for the protection of the canopy of our large tree... and in that flash, I saw Bold.
He stood firm in the tree, his head cocked to one side as he waited for Better Half to resupply the hanging feeder. Rain and thunder be damned, for Mother Nature herself would not drive him from his perch. I shouted to Better Half and pointed, crying "Oh look, there's Bold" as the poor man did his best to get food in place while being drenched by the storm. Unfortunately, Better Half could not see Bold through his rain streaked glasses.
Bold has changed in the past few weeks. He is even larger, and more bedraggled in feather. He is every bit as lively, however, and offered a singular CHURP in gratitude for the free meal. His is an unquenchable spirit; each passing day means another chance to profit from the last moments of summer. His robust form skittered from twig to twig, and he regarded me momentarily before ducking out of sight behind a particularly large clump of leaves. I have never been able to capture him on film, yet his enthusiasm for life is etched upon my heart.
I struggled with insomnia until early this morning, . I had left the bedroom window open, preferring the feel of the crisp night air. Better Half let the dogs out around 7 am, and closed the door, allowing me the luxury of a warm bed sans any dogs, cats or other humans. In the still morning air, I heard a particularly pleasing CHURP, and lifted the blinds just so. I lay quietly, allowing the early sunshine to warm the air, and my eyes gazed into the depths of the maple tree. The CHURP came again, and I spotted Bold on a limb. He shook himself, and glistening droplets flung out from his plumage. He cocked his head and stared at me from one gleaming black eye, and then ducked his head under his wing to nibble at some small itch. When his head emerged, his cap was just as scruffy as ever, and I smiled silently and thought of how tussled my own hair must look.
What was he thinking at that moment? Was he already dwelling upon the bird feeder below, or perhaps he was testing his resolve to migrate to some distant place? I do not know, in honestly, but it seemed to me that he had come up to the very top of the tree just to check in on me, for he stayed quite a while. I closed my eyes and lay back, warmed by the occasional song he offered in lullaby.
The sun climbed higher, and the bright light dragged me from my groggy state. I got up quietly and began to shut the blind - and there Bold sat, still in the same place. I whispered "Good morning, Bold" and offered him a nod. He scratched his head lazily with his leg, tearing several spent downy feathers from his neck and chest in the process, and then gave a final CHURP in return. It was the bit of peace that I needed, and it ushered me into a deep sleep.
As I write this, I hear a familiar song creeping in through the cracked window in the office. My heart soars.