Friday, March 30, 2012

Garden buddy

I didn't have a bad day. Nothing went wrong; it's pretty much been a good week, a whole good month, really. Except for the unusually warm weather, which has put the growing season about a month ahead, and my labors in my garden about a month behind. Things are growing and sprouting and blooming way faster than I can keep up with them. Not that I'm complaining about some warmth and sunshine, but I just don't believe that we ever get something for nothing. Anything good must be paid for. If it's 80 degrees in March, what on earth will July hold?

Have you ever had a time in your life where nothing was wrong...but, somehow, at the same time, nothing felt quite right, either? Of course, I am still adjusting to my new job, my commute to Decatur, the whole new routine. And with all the yard work, with the profusion of weeds created by the hot spring weather, I have had scant time to bird, which is my usual retreat from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

But even so, as I shoveled and scraped at my raised beds today, a very special bird came to me.

Everywhere I dug, it followed, bolder and closer than I ever would have expected, looking for worms and grubs in the earth exposed by my shovel. At one point, as I pulled up a stubborn knot of plants that must go, I uncovered a particularly disgusting fat, white, wriggling grub, and tossed it towards my little friend, who immediately ran forward and ate it as if it were the most delicious repast.

My little companion soon started to endear itself to me, so much so that I retreated to get the camera to take some photos and let it scramble about in peace for a half hour while I took a break.

As I snapped photo after photo, amazed at how this engaging little bird was so oblivious to my presence, I began to see the common American robin in an entirely different way. Have you ever stared at a printed word so long -- a simple, average little word like "quick" or "slop" or "ever" (this trick works better with short words) -- until it started to look weird, until you had somehow become estranged from the link between form and meaning and even wondered, just for a moment, if you were spelling it right or if it was even a word?

I find that I can do that with just about anything, look at it so long that I really start to see it as if for the first time. Like this robin, how often do I notice the white ring around the eyes, the black and white stripes under the throat?

The scalloped pattern on the feathers of its orange breast....

The perfection of a tiny foot....

The black at the tip of its beak...

Of course, if you keep your eyes open, beauty is everywhere.

Thank you, little robin, for reminding me to look.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to you and the robin for helping ME to really "see" this not uncommon bird. The first dozen or so robins one sees in early Spring are so special, especially up here in the UP, where robins really are a sign of Spring. After 50 or so, the "ho-hum, there's another robin", sets in, and you're right, one stops really looking. And their singing is lovely...they ARE thrushes! Enjoy your little friend; how special that it trusts you so much. Mom