Sunday, February 24, 2013


Male Cardinal

While the garden is sleeping, we're entertained by the birds. Betsy (my poodle) gets her share of thrills from the birdfeeder, too.  As soon as she sees me picking up my camera, she runs to the window, knowing that the action is picking up. Here are a few photos of this year's visitors.

Blue Jay

Looking for sunflower seeds.

I'm guessing this is a young Song Sparrow 

Female Cardinal

Downy Woodpecker

White-breasted Nuthatch

Watching for poodles on patrol.

European Starling

Male House Sparrow

I read this poem about birdwatching recently and just had to share it. I love what it says about grief, renewal, perseverance and faith.  The idea of being happy with what you have and keeping on when it seems like everyone else is much further along, even if you finish last.  I especially like the line "But when was there suddenly mass?" because it applies so nicely to gardening and seed starting.  Go away for a few days and forget, come back, and there is suddenly mass.  When did that happen?


A bird was making its nest.
In the dream, I watched it closely:
in my life, I was trying to be
a witness not a theorist

The place you begin doesn't determine
the place you end: the bird

took what it found in the yard,
its base materials, nervously
scanning the bare yard in early spring;
in debris by the south wall pushing
a few twigs with its beak.

of loneliness: the small creature
coming up with nothing. Then
dry twigs. Carrying, one by one,
the twigs to the hideout.
Which is all it was then.

It took what there was:
the available material. Spirit
wasn't enough.

And then it wove like the first Penelope
but toward a different end.
How did it weave? It weaved,
carefully but hopelessly, the few twigs
with any suppleness, any flexibility,
choosing these over the brittle, the

Early spring, late desolation.
The bird circled the bare yard making
efforts to survive
on what remained to it.

It had its task:
to imagine the future. Steadily flying around,
patiently bearing small twigs to the solitude
of the exposed tree in the steady coldness
of the outside world.

I had nothing to build with.
It was winter: I couldn't imagine
anything but the past. I couldn't even
imagine the past, if it came to that.

And I didn't know how I came here.
Everyone else much farther along.
I was back at the beginning
at a time in life we can't remember

The bird
collected twigs in the apple tree, relating
each addition to existing mass.
But when was there suddenly mass?

It took what it found after the others
were finished.
The same materials--why should it matter
to be finished last? The same materials, the
limited brown. Brown twigs,
broken and fallen. And in one,
a length of yellow wool.

Then it was spring and I was inexplicably
I knew where I was: on Broadway with my
bag of groceries.
Spring fruit in the stores: first
cherries at Formaggio. Forsythia

First I was at peace.
Then I was contented, satisfied.
And then flashes of joy.
And the season changed--for all of us,
of course.

And as I peered out my mind grew sharper.
And I remember accurately
the sequence of my responses,
my eyes fixing on each thing
from the shelter of the hidden self:

first I love it.
Then, I can use it.

Louise Gluck, Poetry, “Nest,” The New Yorker, February 8, 1999, p. 56


tina said...

Betsy is so cute! She is ready to help you photograph the birds I think.

TALON said...

Your bird photos are gorgeous, JGH! Betsy reminds me so much of my labradoodle Charlie who is similarly invested in bird-watching and waiting for me to grab my camera :)

That poem was beautiful! I love the stanza:

The place you begin doesn't determine
the place you end: the bird

because that is the truth of life, isn't it?

Jocelyn said...

Beautiful poem and beautiful bird shots Jen! I esp love the little woodpecker :)

Shelley Anne said...

Love the poem and the pictures, especially of the squirell.

Driveways Essex