This Side of the River
Last night I brought in the feeders (as is our habit because of bear activity). With hands full of suet and seed, I set the hummingbird and oriole feeders outside the sliding door with the intention of bringing those in next. Of course, I forgot. And of course, some hungry opportunist found the grape jelly very much to her liking. When I finally remembered the feeders long after dark, I thrust open the slider only to hear the panicked scramble of feet tearing lickety-split down the deck. I was only too glad the animal (raccoon?) didn’t race in the open door!
We can debate later whether it is wise to feed wild animals. One time I was buying sunflower seed in the garden center when a colleague from my university leaned over my cart and tsk-tsked me with the adage, “You know the birds are perfectly capable of finding their own food, right?” I was taken aback by his passive-aggressive judgement and could only mumble that it was so my elderly mother could enjoy the birds up close (which was true). Yes, we must be concerned about over-concentration of birds in an avian flu environment. Yes, we must not lure them so close to the windows that bird strikes threaten great harm. Yes, they can find food in the wild. But, for these few weeks in the Spring and Summer they are also hungry and have other mouths to feed.
On my shift at the food pantry yesterday, the trend of less food available from the area-wide food rescue organization continued. The math is simple: more people flocking in for food assistance, more pantries are being opened, less food available per pantry and per person. So, in our pantry, there are limits to how much of any one item a person may take. Yesterday, a woman came to the checkout with eight bags of salad greens and became irate when I told her the limit was two.
We do funny things when we are vulnerable. We may become humbly grateful or angrily entitled. Happily, most of our clientele at the pantry are exceedingly thankful.”
I simply had to absorb this lady’s anger, but all of my being wanted to quietly reply that she is not the only person we serve, that taking 6 extra bags of greens means that three other families will go without.
So that is what I have been observing lately-
there is hunger everywhere if we are willing to see it.”
Here at the bluff, the jays, orioles, grosbeaks, cardinals, robins, hummingbirds, thrushes, indigo buntings, goldfinches, and woodpeckers are eating-gobbling really-like they haven’t had a meal in a long time. Today the wild turkeys showed up at the banquet table of grass seed sowed two days ago. Even the deer are licking up the spillage from under the feeders. I have to believe that the rabbit, raccoon, and opossum are out there at night.
And here in the county, the food pantry is busy, and how I wish we could provide more. How I wish people knew more about cooking. Yesterday we had sleeves of Ritz crackers available, and one gal was particularly excited because her family loves crackers. When I shared that crackers are quite easy to make at home for pennies on the dollar, she was astounded. When the local farm donated a crate of rutabagas no one took any because they had no idea what to do with a rutabaga. I mentioned to a client she could use them to make pasties. She was surprised to think you can make your own pasties from scratch.
Of course, thinking of hunger reminds me that some folks are simply hungry for love, for a listening ear, a whispered prayer, a word of encouragement. So today, if you will, take a good look around for the hunger that surrounds you. It’s there. It’s there. And growing every day.