I am watching the birds at Trout Creek today, the outdoors swathed in snow mantle, the wind chill temps blisteringly cold. After our month-long absence, we found the birds waiting in the wings of the Norway spruce for “their” feeder to be refilled, and the water bath topped off.
It was blizzarding out, lacy snow swirling in a blinding, biting wind.
The intrepid titmouse was at the feeder immediately, running laps from there to the gutter to hammer open his seeds, and find a crack to hide them. The red-bellied woodpecker was not far behind, carelessly scattering seed for which the ground-hugging juncos were thankful. All afternoon they came, the hapless chickadees, bold cardinals, upside down nuthatches, purple and house finches, and downy woodpeckers. This morning, a finch parked itself on the feeder as I worked at my desk through a month’s worth of mail. Though birds’ feet can withstand the cold quite well, it was a happy sight to watch the finch balance on one foot with the other tucked up into her fluffed up feathers. Every so often, she switched feet.
While strolling through the ruins of the Roman Forum earlier this month, I sat for a time to rest and imagine the people who once lived in that grand, impressive place. In the Temple of the Virgins, statues of twelve virtuous ladies line the walk, but only one still has her stone head. On the headless statue in front of me, a small sparrow-sized bird landed, and began to drink out of the water bowled in the lady’s neck. Next, this bird, a red-breasted flycatcher common to southern Europe, jumped into that pooled water for a bath. I doubt the sculptor could have imagined his beautiful work serving as a bird bath!
Also in Rome, while watching the filthy Tiber River flow by, I observed a pigeon-a fat one at that- limping along on stumped legs; the bird had no feet. Still, it had adapted quite marvelously, and didn’t even seem to know or care that it was footless.
Jesus taught that
God cares for even the lowliest of sparrows, and that we should never worry about our lives, because He loves us even more.
It is why I like to watch the birds, knowing that while they neither reap nor sow, they are still known by their Creator. While we are busy flitting from thing to thing, worrying the bones of life like a determined dog, God sees us. Knows us. Knows our needs better than we do. Cares for us. Loves us. Provides for us. Hears us.
The birds teach me that. It’s my favorite subject in the school of nature.