(Note: This is the first of several notes I’ll write to my Dad this year. He died from complications with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2012.)
To be honest, I thought for the longest it was senility and a general propensity to reclusiveness. I think you cared about those birds as much as anything else I’d seen.
You’d clean the housing sterile, repaint for the new season, systematically track the migration north, and at just the right moment (not too early, not too late) you’d raise the housing. And just about this time every spring they rewarded you with a season of pleasure. The purple martins arrived gracefully by the dozens. Nothing made you happier.
For the longest I wrestled with jealousy over how much you loved the birds, versus how much fun it was seeing you love something so simple and innocent. I’d never seen anyone sit outside for hours on end just watching birds fly around.
You surely loved “your birds.”
Now, all these years later, look at me. It raises minor panic if we’re low on bird seed and bad weather’s on the way. I have 10 seed feeders in winter, a dozen hummingbird feeders in summer, and just this week I scrubbed my own martin housing in hopes of their arrival. Those birds are so elusive in the city. But every day I’m watching – just like you.
I wish you were here to see the little backyard habitat we’ve created. The birds love it and we have a bunch. Beautiful cardinals, gold finches, house finches, tufted titmice, several woodpecker varieties, carolina wrens, chickadees, upwards of 50 hummingbirds during the southern migration in August, blue jays, and the occasional indigo bunting. If the martins are coming it will be any day now.
We could sit back here for hours and watch, you and I. Even Dana has become a pretty good spotter. If you could see what we’ve done with the backyard birds in Ecuador you’d really be amazed.
Am I senile now, or just a recluse? I often wonder, and I bet you think that’s funny.
I miss having you around. We all do.