I sit at my desk watching the still bare but just begun-budding weeping birch branches waving, blowing. I am listening to the blue jays and sparrows muttering in the trees’ higher branches, and in the shrubs out front. Beginning at 6:45 AM, when I opened wider the blind, and nearly nonstop until about an hour ago a pair of robins were sharing trilling time with anyone who would listen. I would, and did. It’s been a song-filled day today, even though I have not set one foot beyond the edges of the back and front porches. In fact, except to bring in the mail (front porch–mail basket hangs on the front door handle) and deposit in their bin the recyclable cat food cans (back porch–bin reachable by merely leaning over the side railing), I have not trod beyond the sills of the doors. The weather is most conducive to this internality of my day today.
I hope this finds you holding your own amidst this pandemic. I know for many of us it is easier than for others of us and for others we have not met. A friend has just lost a nephew. My friend cannot go to her sister’s to comfort her in the loss of her son. Her sister cannot go to her son-who-was-but-is-no-longer. My sister is experiencing her own new loss alone in her newly single-resident house. My friend’s brother fell prey to the virus, and recovered, but alone in his apartment, and continues solitary and, for all his life a waiter, currently unemployed and uncompensated, with bills due to arrive.
And yet the nests are being constructed in trees and shrubs around here everywhere. And yet, in fact, two days ago I watched an adult mourning dove caring for a juvenile mourning dove, poking food into the young one’s mouth, keeping close. And this morning three juvenile turkeys strolled down the sidewalk in front of our house, took a left into the driveway and strode into first our neighbor’s backyard, and then, cutting through the stand of arbor vitae, into ours. Cringe if you need to, but I, I was delighted.
Now I am warned time and again about how anywhere, be it my back yard or Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square, with turkeys, they hold court. In other words, mind them, kind of like my parents told me to do as a child, mind them my parents. Sometimes I did, sometimes… However, this time, yes, I will. I mind them, the turkeys, as to obey and I mind them as be attentive watch my back and in fact be still. Maria, the tuxedo cat here at home, was less cautious and growled low and treacherously through the bedroom window overlooking the backyard, which was open just a bit. Her growl remained low and private, and they ignored her. They pecked among the dropped seeds under the stand of bird feeders, convened very briefly (I was reminded “stand up” meetings at work. For me, a distant past, for some of you a month or so ago, and likely again in a month or so) and cut back through the arbor vitae to our neighbors’ backyard and to horizons east.
How the absence of us has freed the neighbors whose homes are, of necessity, single tree tops, pockets of thickets, small stands of woods, and utility corridors. I would like that they could hold fast to some of the new spaces they’ve had a chance to explore.
I know I have nay-sayers among my readers, so I will not rave on. I’ll leave you with a fragment of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s:
“To a Skylark”
Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
Better than all treasures
That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!
Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow
The world should listen then, as I am listening now