I stand on my little porch and watch the birds discover the sunflower seeds in the picnic-table-shaped feeder hanging next to my angel mobile. I try to recall why my mother couldn’t buy bird seed with thistle all those decades ago. Something about a trade block with Ethiopia. She stockpiled to feed the wild birds in our yard before the stores ran out. My mother would have rolled her eyes if she could see my feeder but I couldn’t find anything more refined at Lowe’s.
They had dye-free hummingbird food though. I tried making my own from sugar water last year. I bought normal C&H sugar just for that purpose, a small bag of it. But the jar sat in my refrigerator and grew a weird sort of mold so I had to throw it away. I fill the plastic diskette and the taller one, made of glass, with this store-bought fancy stuff. A tiny wing flutters near my ear as I lean forward to re-hang the feeders.
The sky rises over me in an achingly clear blue so pale that I get a little breathless staring at it. I lower myself into the rocking chair and study the new growth on my Japanese maple. The one in our yard in Kansas City never quite recovered from being the subject of a Renaissance Festival wooden sword fight twenty years ago in the surreal days of black-out and free-play following an ice storm. My son and his friends crunched across the brittle snow, hats falling and coats flapping open. The sweep of my little tree’s frozen branches splintered as one of the boys lunged, demanding its surrender.
We don’t have such cold weather here in Northern California, and I have no little boys with too much energy scampering around the yard. In fact the only sound which disturbs my Saturday peace is the cascading run of the metal windchime hanging from a shepherd’s hook behind where I sit. I close my eyes and listen for robins, for finches, for loons. Instead I hear the slow steady hum of a leaf blower on the far side of the meadow.
I did little more than buy groceries today. I did make a run to my post office box, and I dropped off my old wooden desk chair to have its seat replaced. The upholsterer lives in Isleton, in an old FEMA hut at the back of a gravel lot on a turn-out road behind the Catholic church and across from the pallet place. We stood talking, about nothing much, about fabric, and uses for good pallets, and writing. Then I made a U-turn back onto the state highway towards home, stopping only for bread and eggs, before turning east, towards the Delta Loop.
I got distracted by the long expanse of new foliage alongside the levee road and had to swerve to avoid crashing. My heart raced. I sat for a good ten minutes before I trusted myself to drive. But by the time I turned into the park, calm had slowed my pulse. I found myself grinning. After all, can one really say that one has lived, until one has had to brake for a low-flying heron coming inland from its perch on the banks of the San Joaquin?
It’s the second day of the one-hundredth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.